How late great Kobe Bryant could aid in Warriors' re-signing franchise legend

Golden State Warriors v Los Angeles Lakers
Golden State Warriors v Los Angeles Lakers / Stephen Dunn/GettyImages

Plenty is sure to go into Klay Thompson's thought-process as the 34-year-old veteran sharpshooter weighs up his career with the Golden State Warriors this offseason.

Despite a disappointing season that included a mid-year demotion to the bench, Thompson is still expected to have a number of suitors in free agency where he could attract a new deal in excess of $20 million per season.

Kobe Bryant's influence on Klay Thompson could help convince the four-time NBA champion to stay at the Golden State Warriors

The Athletic's Shams Charania reported on Monday that there is mutual interest between Thompson and the Orlando Magic, with the young Eastern Conference playoff team holding the potential of blowing Golden State out of the water with a huge contract offer.

However, in an interview with 95.7 The Game's Willard & Dibs on Wednesday, ESPN's Ramona Shelburne reiterated her belief that Thompson wants to remain with the Warriors, citing the influence of the late great Kobe Bryant as a potential factor.

"A lot of people around the league have said, 'I think Klay would benefit from a change of scenery.' I also think he really is a fighter and he's proud of the legacy he has with the Warriors. Deep down he's a Kobe guy. Kobe stayed with the Lakers. The teams were really bad at the end, but he stayed."

Ramona Shelburne

Bryant won five championships with the Lakers in a legendary 20-year career, but the last three of those saw the franchise finish 14th, 14th and 15th in the Western Conference with a combined 65-181 win-loss record.

The Lakers continued to look after Bryant from a financial aspect even beyond his prime, with the 18-time All-Star still the league's highest paid player in his final season. That's going to be the biggest question on Thompson -- how much will Golden State be willing to pay based on loyalty and respect for what he's done, rather than paying him simply on the merit of production? If the Warriors dive further into the latter, then that opens up the opportunity for Thompson to feel disrespected and depart the only franchise he's ever known.

Thompson has often discussed the long-lasting impact that Bryant has had on his hall-of-fame career, having previously stated that "everything I try to do on a basketball court, I try to emulate him. I just really loved his work ethic and style of play."