Klay Thompson readies to put up a shot during practice at Oracle Arena on June 4, 2019, ahead of Game 3 of the NBA Finals. (Ryan Gorcey / S.F. Examiner)

Warriors Media Day Notebook: Klay Thompson not rushing back

Kevon Looney set to be starting center, Spellman drops 40 pounds, Curry accepts elder statesman role

CHASE CENTER — Klay Thompson is still months away from returning to the basketball court, but he seemed mobile enough on Monday during the Golden State Warriors media day, especially when he scampered out of the Bill King Interview Room while Golden State PR head Raymond Ridder tried to keep at the podium for one more question.

“He’s doing fine,” general manager Bob Myers said. “We’ll have another update on him probably around the All-Star break. Don’t construe that as if we think he’ll be back by the All-Star break, that just means we’ll have an update then.”

The Warriors plan to move with caution when it comes to Thompson, who injured the knee in Game 6 of the NBA Finals and underwent surgery on July 2. Since then, the five-time All-Star has been trudging through what he calls a “tedious” rehab process, after signing a max contract extension.

“I mean, the workouts, they’re not fun,” he said. “You’re not on the court putting together dribble packages and getting up jumpers and playing one-on-one. You’re doing a lot of tedious exercises just to build back strength and confidence and pass those mental hurdles that might hold you back.”

This the first major injury of Thompson’s basketball career. Thompson has a noted high pain tolerance, and is a notoriously quick healer, but he plans to abide by Golden State’s wishes and not come back to the court too soon.

“The last thing you want to do is rush back, especially for a player like me who wants to play until he’s in his late 30s,” Thompson said. “I want to play at a high level until that point, too. As much as it kills me not to be on the court, patience is a virtue, and rushing back would be not very smart.”

Kevon Looney excited for an expanded role

The Warriors took a major blow to their center rotation last week, as free agent signee Willie Cauley-Stein suffered a mid-foot sprain. On Monday, Golden State announced that he will miss the entire month of October. That means the only other player on the roster with meaningful center experience — Kevon Looney — will get the nod in the Oct. 24 opener.

Looney’s role has expanded each of the last two seasons, and he started 27 games at center as Golden State made its way to a fifth straight NBA Finals in 2018-19, averaging over 17 minutes per game. Even after the return of Cauley-Stein — the presumptive starting center — Looney could see his role continue to grow.

“Looney is the starting center,” head coach Steve Kerr said. “Yeah, I’ve got bigger plans for Looney anyway. I think I’ve told you guys that. He’s one of our best players.”

Looney’s postseason was marred by a costal cartilage fracture in the NBA Finals, which took two months to heal. Still, Looney said his conditioning is where it needs to be headed into training camp.

“Steve always told me your opportunity is going to come,” Looney said. “You’ve got to be ready when it happens. Every summer I prepare for that, and this year I’ve been even more excited because I know I have a chance to play a big role and be part of a team that’s special and be one of those main guys.”

Old Man Curry

For the first time in his 11-year career, Stephen Curry is the oldest player on the Warriors roster — but don’t tell him that.

“Stop reminding me,” Curry said when this fact was brought to his attention. “I mean, just hearing it is weird, but I’m still young.”

For Curry, 31, the knowledge and wisdom he’s amassed over the decade-plus he’s been in the NBA is something that he hopes to share with a roster that includes seven players with a year or less of NBA experience.

Curry and Green will be the veteran leaders on the team for the first time in their careers, with the departures of Andre Iguodala and Shaun Livingston.

“I think leadership will be huge for those two guys,” Myers said. “Steph is our oldest player, which I still have to remind myself of. I think he does, too. We will be tested. And they’re going to have to lead through adversity, through youth.”

Curry prefers the term “elder statesman” — a more digestible way to describe his new role.

“At the end of the day, myself, Draymond, Klay are going to lead the charge on that front,” he said.

Omari Spellman drops 40 pounds

Second-year forward Omari Spellman knew his body wasn’t where it needed to be when he stepped on the court in Las Vegas for the NBA Summer League.

“I’m pretty sure you guys saw, I was pretty heavy,” he said. “I was about 315.”

Coming out of Villanova, Spellman was drafted by the Atlanta Hawks in the first round of the 2018 NBA Draft, but his time there was short-lived. Thanks to his weight management issues, Atlanta traded him to the Warriors this summer for center Damian Jones as well as a 2026 draft pick.

“Straight up, I cried,” Spellman said. “It hurt me. It was just something like very emotional to feel, as though someone that graced a first-round pick on me decided that my time had come to an end after only one year.”

Aware that he was in no shape to play basketball at the highest level, Spellman lost 40 pounds over the course of 11 weeks to prepare for his first training camp with Golden State.

“This morning before breakfast I was 275 (pounds),” Spellman said, visibly pleased with his progress.

Since arriving in the Bay, Spellman has made efforts to change the way he eats, in order to get his weight under control.

“A lot of help, a lot of help from the Golden State Warriors staff,” Speallman said. “Just helping me being consistent, and that was something that I wanted to stress. I never verbalized it to them. They just kind of did it organically, helping me just with being consistent. I’m extremely grateful to them for helping them along this process.”

But Spellman isn’t done shedding some extra poundage. In fact, he says he wants to drop another 10 pounds before the season begins.

“I still want to get down to about 265,” he said. “That’s my comfortable plan for myself, so that’s where I’m at with myself.”

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