Warriors finalize draft return in heart-wrenching departure of Klay Thompson

Dallas Mavericks v Golden State Warriors
Dallas Mavericks v Golden State Warriors / Thearon W. Henderson/GettyImages

The departure of franchise legend Klay Thompson from the Golden State Warriors has officially been finalized, with the veteran sharpshooter heading to Dallas Mavericks on a three-year, $50 million contract via sign-and-trade.

Dallas forward Josh Green will head to the Charlotte Hornets, with the Warriors getting back a 2031 second-round pick from the Mavericks, along with a 2025 second-round pick that's the least favorable between the Denver Nuggets and Philadelphia 76ers, according to The Athletic's Anthony Slater.

Along with two second-round picks, the Golden State Warriors have also opened up a trade exception in the departure of Klay Thompson

The most valuable aspect from the deal is that Golden State now have a trade exception that falls just shy of $16 million, per NBA insider Marc Stein. That allows the Warriors to absorb a player's contract up to that number without needing to send out any salaries in a trade.

It's important to note that the exception cannot be aggregated with other player salaries, meaning it can only be used on a player making less than $16 million. The Warriors can now spend their time browsing the market to pinpoint what should be a valuable rotation player, with the exception not expiring for a full 12 months.

Golden State came to a free agency agreement with former Philadelphia 76ers guard De'Anthony Melton on Monday, with the 26-year-old signing for the non-taxpayer mid-level exception on a one-year, $12.8 million contract.

After missing out on Paul George, the Warriors are reportedly pivoting their attention to seven-foot forward and 2023 All-Star Lauri Markannen, though the 27-year-old's $18 million deal falls just above the exception created in the Thompson sign-and-trade.

Thompson's decorated 13-year career with the Warriors has officially come to an end, with the 5x All-Star joining Luka Doncic and Kyrie Irving in a potent offensive lineup for the NBA Finalist Mavericks.