Golden State Warriors star Klay Thompson returns to rotation vs. Cleveland Cavaliers

SAN FRANCISCO -- Golden State Warriors guard Klay Thompson announced Saturday he will make his long-anticipated return on Sunday against the Cleveland Cavaliers.

Posting a clip from the movie "Space Jam" on his Instagram page, Thompson said, "How I'm pulling up to chase [Center] tomorrow."


"IM SO EXCITED TO SEE YALL DUBNATION! LETS GET IT," Thompson wrote.

Thompson later said in a statement posted by the Warriors: "I hate to use the phrase 'can't wait' because I love to be present in my life. But I cannot wait to play in front of our fans again. I really, really enjoy being a Warrior."

Thompson participated in a light scrimmage with the team on Saturday before announcing his return. The Golden State star shooter has not played since tearing his left ACL in Game 6 of the 2019 NBA Finals against the Toronto Raptors on June 13. Thompson then tore his right Achilles in November 2020.

"Really, really good," Warriors forward Draymond Green told Marc Spears of The Undefeated, regarding how Thompson looked in a Saturday scrimmage.Green said it was his first scrimmage with Thompson since Green was recently in health and safety protocols.

"Just playing with him in practice today, which was my first time really scrimmaging with him, it just felt right," Green told Spears. "Last night I couldn't sleep. I literally had like electrical currents just flowing through my body like I'm sitting on a wire, and when we lined up for the jump ball today and I'm just sitting there looking at him. Wow, I have not lined up next to this man in two and a half years."

For Golden State, the anticipation of Thompson's return has been building for weeks. Head coach Steve Kerr and the players have said they can feel "a jolt of energy coming our way right now" with Thompson returning and center James Wiseman nearing a return and on schedule to participate in contact practice on the Warriors' upcoming road trip.

Thompson is one of the most beloved Warriors, and teammates are giddy about his return.


"I've been lucky enough to probably have played in 1,000 games and coached in 500-something," Kerr said on Saturday. "There's a few games that you just always remember. Certain moments you always remember. I have no doubt that when Klay walks onto the floor for the first time, I will never forget that particular game.

"It will stand out as one of the highlights of my entire basketball existence just because of who Klay is and how much he has meant to our franchise and the Bay Area, to me personally, to his teammates. He is kind of everybody's favorite guy and we have all seen him suffer for two and a half years. It will be very emotional."

Thompson will have his minutes increase gradually. But by several accounts, the shooter still has his touch. When the Warriors had their game at Denver postponed on Dec. 30, Kerr had his team scrimmage instead. The head coach called the scrimmage a "really crucial" and "important emotional event" to have the group with Thompson back together again.

"He's a bucket," forward Juan Toscano-Anderson said of how Thompson looked in a recent scrimmage. "I mean, he's buckets. He had 12 points in 43 seconds. ... I said, 'Damn! We got two guys that can do this?'"

And if there was any doubt as to whether or not Thompson will regain his starting spot, Kerr told a story about when Michael Jordan returned and came back out of retirement.

"I was thinking about that game the other day and I was driving to the airport to go to Indianapolis with Jud Buechler, my teammate," Kerr said of his former Bulls teammate Jordan. "Michael had come back for the final 16 games for that season and practiced maybe twice and I turned to Jud and said, 'Jud, what is Phil Jackson going to do? Do you bring him off the bench? Do you start him?' And Jud goes, 'Steve. Steve. As a general rule, when you have your own statue outside the stadium, you're in the starting lineup.'


"A few people ask me what are you going to do with Klay? He's Klay Thompson, you know? When you can score 60 points in 29 minutes, generally your coach should start you. So Klay is going to start."

The excitement for Thompson's return isn't restricted to the Warriors' locker room.San Antonio Spurs coach Gregg Popovich said it will be a win for the entire league.

"It's another big thrill for the fans. I don't mean just Golden State," Popovich said Sunday. "The league is about players, it's about talent, it's about show. And him being one of the best shooters in the world, and also a hell of a defender, just adds to the aura of their team and to the NBA. Just like whenKevin [Durant]was hurt. It's the same thing. You want as many of those guys in the league as possible so they can be seen, because it's good for everybody."

Durant said he's looking forward to seeing his former teammate get back on the court.

"I'm excited for him," Durant said after Brooklyn'sSunday afternoon win. "I know it's a huge, huge day out there in the Bay Area. It's going to be electric in there today. Talking to Klay over the last couple years, you can just feel it through text messages how excited he is to get back on the floor. I know every basketball fan is going to be tuned in, so I'm looking forward to his return and a healthy rest of the season and the rest of his career as well. I'm glad he's back."

ESPN's Nick Friedell contributed to this report.

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