The Golden State Warriors remain the logical bet to win the 2018 NBA Finals. The Dubs have been the best team in the league all year, won it all a year ago and have participated in each of the last three NBA Finals. To the shock of no one, they’re the easy favorites (-160 at to take home the hardware this summer.

Future seasons may not be so kind to the Warriors, however. With star shooting guard Klay Thompson set for free agency in 2019, the Warriors may have some tough decisions on their hands. They’ll have to make some difficult calls even before then in regards to their roster, but come 2019, they may have to decide if they have the salary cap room to accommodate one of their many stars.

If it were up to Thompson, this would be a done deal. The long-time Warrior likes the idea of playing for one franchise for his entire career and may even be open to taking less money to help this marriage stay connected:

“Playing for one team your whole career is definitely special…If not, I don’t even want to think about that.”

That sounds like a guy that is interested in staying where he’s found all of his NBA success.

That being said, Thompson will be 29 years old once he starts truly thinking about his next NBA contract. Depending what happens this summer and what other teams throw at him in free agency, it’s not crazy to think one of the game’s best outside shooters could jump ship.

What Would Make Klay Leave?

Thompson tends to be a man of few words – which is both shocking and refreshing in today’s NBA – but there are two things he seems to be highly interested in; loyalty and winning. The odds of him leaving Golden State don’t seem great, provided the Warriors appear to be doing all they can to compete for titles and also make him feel wanted and respected.

Thompson may be seen as the third wheel by outsiders. Stephen Curry is a two-time NBA MVP and Kevin Durant is arguably the best talent in Golden State. Thompson is a steady scorer and elite marksmen, but it’s arguable he is often overlooked or forgotten when discussions of Golden State’s elite players come up.

While that may be the case in some circles, it’s unlikely Golden State feels that way. They view Thompson’s scoring and perimeter defense as key components to their title-winning roster and shedding that from their rotation would greatly decrease their chances of winning more championships.

After all, there have been Klay Thompson trade rumors in the past and they’ve always involved huge names. If the Warriors were ever truly serious about letting their outside threat go, he probably would have been dealt by now.

It’s in Golden State’s best interests to maintain a winning atmosphere and holding onto Thompson kills two birds with one stone. Compensation could be an issue as well, especially with so many big names commanding massive contracts. If Thompson swallows his pride and takes a hometown discount like he’s suggested he might, though, that could be another non-issue.

Where Could He Go?

Klay Thompson probably isn’t leaving Golden State, but the NBA is still a business and a lot could happen in the next year. If the Warriors disrespect him, trade him or don’t do enough to make him believe they’re still trying to win, it’s not crazy to think he could leave.

This is a league where guys like DeMarcus Cousins, Dwight Howard and Shaquille O’Neal have all been traded. LaMarcus Aldridge, Gordon Hayward and even LeBron James have opted to head elsewhere in free agency. While not likely, there is a potential path for Thompson to do the same.

As things stand, the Klay Thompson free agency destinations that stand out the most are San Antonio, Houston, Boston and (gasp!) Cleveland. A wild card could even be the Milwaukee Bucks, who are stacked with versatile talent and could be one more shooter (and a big man) away from competing for a title.

All of those teams could have arguments built against them for finding a way to lure Thompson out of town, but they’re also all already title threats. In another year, who is to say Thompson doesn’t balk at what the Warriors offer him and decide one of these cities better suits his next NBA chapter?

For now, Thompson seems destined to stay in Golden State for the long haul and the Warriors would be wise to make sure they do everything they can to ensure that happens. However, big NBA moves happen every season and after Kyrie Irving did what he did last summer, you can’t know for sure what a player is thinking until they sign on the dotted line.

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