Insider's contract prediction shows Warriors are headed for massive free agency trap

Utah Jazz v Golden State Warriors
Utah Jazz v Golden State Warriors / Thearon W. Henderson/GettyImages

Klay Thompson's future continues to garner plenty of headlines, yet it appears many are divided on the sort of contract the veteran sharpshooter is expected to get when free agency opens in less than a fortnight.

After arguably his worst year in the league since his second season, Thompson's projected value seems to vary substantially among analysts. While the 34-year-old won't get near the max contract he last signed in 2019, it does seem like his new contract could soar far higher than some previously expected.

Golden State Warriors veteran Klay Thompson could still be in line to earn $35 million per season on a new deal in free agency

Having briefly moved to the bench mid-season and after finishing with a zero point, 0-for-10 shooting display in Sacramento, some believed Thompson was on track for a deal worth less than $20 million per season.

However, interest from a number of rival teams, most notably the Orlando Magic, has seen his predicted contract rise in recent weeks. Bleacher Report's Eric Pincus evaluated last week that Thompson would get a three-year, $81 million deal from the Magic -- a contract that would also align with his wish to get at least a three-year extension, according to NBC Sports' Monte Poole on Monday.

An average salary of $27 million may already be on the high side for Thompson, but it's nothing compared to the valuation given by ESPN's front office insider Bobby Marks. He's proposed a two-year, $70 million contract for the five-time All-Star -- which is only just over $8 million less from the $43.2 million Thompson made this season.

If the Warriors are faced with having to pay $35 million per season to retain Thompson, that'll put them in a major trap and nothing short of a lose-lose situation. On one hand that kind of contract could quickly become one of the worst in the league, but the alternative would be to let one of their greatest ever players walk to another team for nothing.

This is the balance Golden State need to find, though they shouldn't be forced into a corner on a deal worth $35 million per season. A three-year, $81 million deal? That will be serious cause for conversation, and perhaps be a number the Warriors are willing to meet. But two-year, $70 million? You'd think the franchise would be quick to dare Thompson into heading elsewhere.