Could the Houston Rockets pursue Klay Thompson in free agency?

Could the Houston Rockets target Klay Thompson this summer?
Could the Houston Rockets target Klay Thompson this summer? / Tim Warner/GettyImages

Keep your friends close, and your enemies closer.

Is that good life advice? It seems toxic. On a personal level, we'd prefer to keep our friends closer than our enemies.

Yet, in a strategic sense, the idiom makes sense. It's something the Houston Rockets could consider this summer. Klay Thompson and the Golden State Warriors have been enemies of the Rockets for a long time. Now, it seems possible that Thompson will leave his long-time team in free agency:

Could the Rockets look to get closer to him?

Could Houston Rockets pursue Thompson?

Thompson is not the worthy nemesis that he once was. At 24, the long-time Splash Brother is beginning to deteriorate.

That's not to say that he isn't a productive player. In 2023-24, Thompson averaged 17.9 points per game while draining 38.7% of his 9.0 three-point attempts per game.

Sure, that isn't the god-like blend of efficiency and volume we're used to seeing from Thompson. In 2022-23, he knocked down 41.2% of his 10.6 threes per game. Those gaudy numbers made Thompson a thorn in Houston's side throughout the entire James Harden era.

That, and Thompson's fantastic point-of-attack defense. To say that he's lost a step on that end of the floor would be an understatement.

Should the Rockets really commit to an aging player who's slipped so significantly on defense?

Houston Rockets should test the market

It depends on Thompson's contract.

He will undoubtedly have suitors. Thompson has often been linked to the Orlando Magic. If they want to give him a long, expensive contract, the Rockets should back out of the proceedings.

Yet, the Magic will have all of the same concerns as the Rockets. They may not see it as a responsible use of their cap space to commit much to Thompson. Concerns about his age and waning defensive ability may limit Thompson's market.

What if Houston offered him a large one-year deal? The Rockets would have to move some pieces, but then again, the Warriors could be interested in Jae'Sean Tate and Jock Landale in a sign-and-trade.

Thompson may be slipping, but he's still a quality NBA player who would make the Rockets better. If the price is right, the Rockets should offer him a contract:

They may not be enemies for much longer.