Klay Thompson talks about leaving Golden State, excitement in playing with Luka and how much barbecue he’ll be eating at introductory press conference


Four-time NBA champion Klay Thompson spoke for the first time Tuesday since the Mavs recent blockbuster trade to acquire the five-time All-Star.

DALLAS — As the Dallas Mavericks introduced the team’s three new offseason acquisitions to the media at the American Airlines Center on Tuesday, there were references to Jeopardy!, the Dallas Cowboys and Texas two-step as well as plenty of answers about how these players will mesh with their new teammates.

Four-time NBA champion Klay Thompson spoke for the first time Tuesday since the Mavs recent blockbuster trade to acquire the five-time All-Star. He was joined by Assistant General Manager Michael Finley as well as his new teammates Quentin Grimes and Naji Marshall.

After Finley introduced the three players, Thompson was the first to speak, opening up about why he chose to leave the Golden State Warriors, the franchise he had been with since the team drafted him in 2011.

“Whether you play basketball or work in the corporate world or whatever industry, sometimes change just can spur greatness,” Thompson said. “A new change of scenery can do wonders, and I’m very grateful for my time at Golden State. But I just felt like moving on could just re-energize me and do something special for the rest of my career.”

The sign-and-trade deal that brought Thompson to Dallas was executed with five other teams, the first time in NBA history involving six teams. The Minnesota Timberwolves, Golden State Warriors, Denver Nuggets, Charlotte Hornets and Philadelphia 76ers were all part of the deal.

Thompson, who averaged 17.9 points per game on 38.7% shooting on three-pointers in 77 games last season, will be playing without his fellow four-time NBA champion Stephen Curry for the first time in his career. While he’s no longer with his fellow “Splash Brother,” Thompson said he’s excited to play off Mavs superstar Luka Doncic and help space the floor in the Mavs offense.

“Even before he got in the NBA, you watch his EuroLeague highlights and you’re like, ‘This 18-year-old is doing this to grown men?'” Thompson said. “It’s just crazy.”

Quentin Grimes, who was born in Houston and went to high school in The Woodlands, Texas, joined the Mavs after the team traded Tim Hardaway Jr. and draft compensation to the Detroit Pistons for the 24-year-old guard. Grimes also spoke about playing next to Doncic and how the 25-year-old guard makes everyone else’s job easier.

“Everybody knows Luka is one of the top players in the NBA, so I feel like our job is to go out there, play as hard as we can and just try to get back to the position they were in last year,” Grimes said.

Thompson won his four championships with the Warriors in 2015, 2017, 2018 and 2022. Thompson will wear No. 31, switching from his previous number (11) with Golden State. Kyrie Irving wears No. 11 for the Mavericks.

Thompson and Irving also have played together before as members of Team USA on the 2016 Olympic team that won gold and the 2014 FIBA World Cup team. The 34-year-old guard said he’s looking forward to being on Irving’s team and not having to worry about getting “shook by him” because of Irving’s handles.

“Kyrie and I are good friends,” Thompson said. “We came into the league together in 2011. We played on Team USA together twice. Obviously, we played against each other at the highest stages for many years, and I’ve always been a fan of Kai’s game and guarding him was hell. So it’s nice to be on the other end of that for once.”

Thompson ranks sixth in league history in 3-point field goals made (2,481) and is just 80 3-pointers shy of passing Reggie Miller (2,560) for fifth all-time. He has made at least 100 3-pointers in each of his 11 seasons, including 200-or-more 3-pointers nine times and a career-high 301 triples in 2022-23, and was crowned the 3-point Contest champion at All-Star Weekend in 2016.

However, last season, Thompson came off the bench for the first time since his rookie season, playing as sixth-man for 14 games. The Warriors finished 10th in the West with a 46-36 record and failed to make it out of the play-in tournament. 

Thompson said he was disappointed at first about the inevitable breakup with the Warriors and how it ended, but he also reflected on the realization that he’s not the first athlete to leave a franchise that player had played with for a long time. Growing up in Portland, Thompson saw Chicago Bulls legend Scottie Pippen play four seasons with the Portland Trail Blazers.

“As time goes on, you have a lot of time to reflect, and you realize what you did,” Thompson said. “They can’t take that away from you as far as the championships or…I mean, records are meant to be broken, but the impact you have on a community and all that. That will forever live and sometimes breakups are necessary to do what’s right.”

Later in the press conference, Thompson spoke more specifically about what was difficult about his final season in Golden State.

“There were times last year it was really tough,” Thompson said. “You know, everyone expects you to be that All-NBA player. Sometimes it’s hard to consistently do that. That’s why there are only 15 slots on that team. Coming here is just such a fresh start in feeling just wanted again, and I bring great value. It just gets me excited again to go out there and work out after this press conference and get shots up.”

Thompson will likely slot into a Mavs starting lineup that is expected to include Luka Doncic, Kyrie Irving, P.J. Washington and either Daniel Gafford or Dereck Lively II at center.

Thompson has dealt with both a torn ACL and an Achilles tendon injury that forced him to miss both the 2019-20 and 2020-21 seasons.

While he hasn’t been as strong of a defender since returning, Thompson has still shown himself to be an elite shooter from deep, and someone who can fit into a role on a successful playoff team. Thompson emphasized that he can play that type of role and showed adoration for how the Mavs and the city of Dallas have treated him so far.

“The organization has shown me so much love, and the fans, whether it’s on the Internet or the street, are very grateful,” Thompson said. “Everyone I’ve met, there’s just a great buzz around the city, especially coming off a championship appearance. Everyone wants to get over that hump. That’s what’s so attractive to me to be someone who can help them win and help these young guys grow. Being on the back end of my career or in my 30s, it’s so special to have this opportunity.”

“Not many guys who play 13 years get a chance to win a championship or championships to end their career, and I think we’re set up for a great run,” Thompson continued. “Expectations are high, but you have to welcome that. I mean, that’s what you want as an athlete. You want to have that pressure and have expectations from the fanbase.”

Thompson also said he is ready to make sacrifices to help the Mavs play winning basketball and compete at the highest level.

“I’m not really into breaking more shooting records,” Thompson said. “I just want to win at this point. That’s what I learned in Golden State. Everyone has to make sacrifices to win at the highest level.”

Michael Finley, who played for the Mavs from 1996-2005 and is now the Vice President of Basketball Operations and Assistant General Manager for the team, left the team after that 2004-2005 season for the San Antonio Spurs. He spoke Tuesday about the similarities and differences in what he and Thompson went through in changing teams.

“It wasn’t about the basketball,” Finley said. “I talked to him more about the experience and the veteran leadership that he can bring to the team. The difference is he was a champion going to a different team, and I was a guy trying to get a championship. But the experience and veteran leadership we do have in common there. I think with Klay, he can bring that experience and knowledge for the young players as well as Luka and Kai. So experience is key, and I think he brings that to the table.”

Thompson played for Mark Jackson (2011-2014) and Steve Kerr (2014-present) during his tenure with the Warriors. The shooting guard will now play for Jason Kidd, who Thompson said he grew up watching play in the NBA.

“I mean, it’s Jason Kidd, have you seen his highlight tape?” Thompson said. “Luka will throw crazy passes, but I still have not seen the passes made that J-Kidd used to make to this day. Just learning from a Hall of Fame talent like that, someone who I really grew up idolizing and appreciating his game and his athleticism. He just has a mind for basketball. I know we’re all excited to play for him. I’m just excited to ask him what it was like to guard Michael, then guard Kobe. I got a lot of questions for him, really.”

Marshall, who reportedly signed with the Mavs on a three-year deal worth $27 million, also reflected on playing for Kidd.

“Just to be able to learn from Jason Kidd every single day is an unbelievable honor,” Marshall said. “I’m so excited to play for him.” 

Towards the end of the press conference, the media members had some more light-hearted questions for the three players, asking them why they chose their jersey numbers, about their hobbies and if they had any dance moves they’ll be bringing to the court.

Thompson explained why he would be a good Jeopardy contestant and also touched on his excitement for both some Texas barbecue and Dallas Cowboys games.