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With Klay Thompson's return imminent, the Golden State Warriors designated him to their G-League affiliate in Santa Cruz on Sunday.
Thompson was due to practice with the team for the first time on Sunday afternoon. It’s unlikely he’ll actually play with Santa Cruz when they play back-to-back games against the South Bay Lakers next week.
Warriors center James Wiseman was also sent to Santa Cruz for increased reps while recovering from a knee injury.
Warriors assign Klay Thompson & James Wiseman to Santa Cruz: pic.twitter.com/dCcv9Td9ck
— Warriors PR (@WarriorsPR) November 28, 2021
"Klay will be scrimmaging and James will continue his work," Coach Steve Kerr said before Sunday's game against the Los Angeles Clippers, via ESPN. "I don't think [Wiseman] is scrimmaging yet, but Klay will be doing 5-on-5."
Thompson is recovering from a torn right Achilles tendon he suffered last November just before the season started. He was due to return in 2020 after tearing his left ACL during the 2019 NBA Finals. It’s been more than 900 days since the 31-year-old has played in a real game.
Thompson averaged 21.5 points and 3.8 rebounds per game during the 2018-19 season, his last with the Warriors. He has been targeting a return around Christmas for some time now, though the team has not announced any specific date.
Thompson was seen sitting on the bench for quite some time by himself and a towel draped over his head following the Warriors' 118-103 win over the Portland Trail Blazers on Friday.
"Him getting closer to than he's ever been to getting back on the floor, I kind of predicted this would be the hardest part of his journey,” Stephen Curry said after that game, via SF Gate. “He's got the basketball back in his hands every day, he's feeling like himself, he's playing pickup and is around our practices ... but he's still not on the court."
Though it’s not quite the same as being back with the Warriors, Thompson being sent to Santa Cruz is one of the last steps left before he can return — something that is right around the corner.