NBA free agency 2024: The market impact of Klay Thompson's move to Dallas

In one respect, Klay Thompson’s departure from the Golden State Warriors — now that the legendary shooter has agreed in principle to join Dallas on a three-year, $50 million deal with the Mavericks, league sources confirmed to Yahoo Sports — began last offseason, when the Warriors and Thompson could not agree on a contract extension. Golden State offered Thompson a two-year deal, sources said, in the ballpark of $50 million of total value that was roughly half of the four-year, $100 million commitment the Warriors handed Draymond Green in free agency.

That difference in valuations for the second and third members of a storied trio — who supported Stephen Curry to four championships from 2015-22 — started shifting both franchise and player down the path that ended with Thompson exiting stage left. This past year of streaky shooting certainly was an added factor in this breakup. Flashing forward, if Thompson had returned to Golden State, the Warriors planned to bring Thompson off the bench behind sophomore guard Brandin Podziemski, sources said, after Golden State started its prized rookie for a good stretch during the second half of last season.

FILE - Golden State Warriors guard Klay Thompson gestures after making a 3-point basket against the Los Angeles Lakers during the second half of an NBA basketball game Tuesday, April 9, 2024, in Los Angeles. Klay Thompson is moving on from the Golden State Warriors, with the four-time league champion agreeing to join the Western Conference champion Dallas Mavericks and change franchises for the first time in his 13-year NBA career, two people with knowledge of the decision said Monday, July 1, 2024.(AP Photo/Ryan Sun)
Klay Thompson's decision affected a number of teams. (AP Photo/Ryan Sun)

Thompson’s decision will have ripple effects across the league, where much of the mid-level market is full of wings who were waiting for Paul George, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope and Thompson to slide off the board before determining their own landing spots. The Lakers, sources said, still hold an affinity for veteran scorer DeMar DeRozan after Los Angeles finished as the runner-up for Thompson. The Lakers were aware that, thanks to the $16 million traded player exception Dallas created by moving Tim Hardaway Jr. to Detroit, this three-year, $50 million mark for Thompson was what they had to compete against.

The biggest domino from Thompson’s outcome, however, could very well be the future of All-Star forward Lauri Markkanen. Golden State has tried to maximize its optionality this summer by chasing the biggest fish who are feasibly available for the taking. First, the Warriors moved back Chris Paul’s guarantee date to try and find a trade of his $30 million expiring salary. The Warriors tried to negotiate a trade for Paul George with the Clippers, sources said, before the All-Star wing opted out of his contract to test free agency and ultimately join Philadelphia. Golden State now remains one of the few teams most connected to a pursuit of acquiring Markkanen from Utah, according to league personnel.

The Jazz are indeed welcoming calls on Markkanen, league sources told Yahoo Sports. Perhaps Utah will ultimately exact a similar offseason to that of Brooklyn, where the Nets once envisioned adding star-level talent alongside Mikal Bridges before determining their best course of action was to enter a rebuild — thanks to a massive haul from New York. The Jazz, as previously reported at Yahoo Sports, were looking into trading for Bridges, held conversations with Atlanta about both Dejounte Murray and Trae Young, sources said, and were working to assemble a group around Markkanen that could have possibly drawn George’s eye.

This latest round of Markkanen trade conversations could very well just be the Jazz trying to gather information from interested teams, or an effort to solicit some kind of exorbitant offer akin to the five first-round picks, plus an additional unprotected pick swap from the Knicks for Bridges. The Jazz have so far indicated to various parties around the NBA they would still like to renegotiate and extend Markkanen when the two sides become eligible to do so in August, sources said, and that listening to offers for Markkanen is just part of doing good business.

That good business, though, leaves the door open just like Brooklyn did for Bridges to waltz across the East River. In addition to Golden State, Sacramento and San Antonio have been the two other teams characterized by league figures with knowledge of the situation as strong possible suitors for Markkanen at this point. For the Kings to land Markkanen, NBA personnel believe the Jazz would require Sacramento to part with Keegan Murray, and that might leave other trade options like Brandon Ingram as a more palatable outcome for the Kings. Minnesota has shown interest in Markkanen as well, sources said. Philadelphia never appeared to place real attention on Markkanen throughout the Sixers’ long approach of finding a third star to slot between Joel Embiid and Tyrese Maxey.

With Thompson decided, the Warriors moved quickly to sign De’Anthony Melton to the full mid-level exception, league sources confirmed to Yahoo Sports. That deal will be for one-year at the $12.8 million salary slot Golden State opened after Thompson’s large cap hold slid off their books and the Warriors waived Paul.

For Dallas, if Thompson can stabilize his outside shooting and stay on the floor as he approaches his 35th birthday with a long history of significant injuries, this move marks another inventive victory for Nico Harrison’s Mavericks front office. From acquiring Kyrie Irving at a relative discount at the 2023 trade deadline, to this deadline’s double dip of Daniel Gafford and P.J. Washington that helped net a run to the NBA Finals, to Dallas’ minimum-contract signing of Derrick Jones Jr. that surely aided that trip to the championship round, Harrison has proven his mettle. And even though a change of representation from Jones complicated his free agency, the Mavericks swiftly signed one of their top replacement targets in former Pelicans wing Naji Marshall.

So for the Mavericks, who once appeared closing in on a revamped wing group that featured Jones Jr. and Caldwell-Pope — via trade, before KCP opted for free agency — Dallas was able to turn Tim Hardaway Jr. and Josh Green into Thompson and Quentin Grimes, while landing Marshall on a three-year, $27 million deal as well.

How the Lakers recover from losing Thompson will be a fascinating subplot in its own right. While LeBron James has indicated a willingness to take less salary, sources said, in order to help Los Angeles add more talent to a roster that fell in the first round of the playoffs, time seems to be running out for how long James is willing to wait before securing his next deal. For the Lakers to bring on DeRozan, Los Angeles may have to work with a third team to offload some salary, such as D’Angelo Russell or Gabe Vincent, sources said. The Nets have been open to welcoming Russell back to Barclays Center since this past trade deadline, sources said.