For the Golden State Warriors, this is the end of an era.

Klay Thompson will reportedly sign a three-year, $50 million deal with Dallas, marking the end of 13 years with the Golden State Warriors, including 12 years alongside Steph Curry and Draymond Green.

Together, they became a dynasty, reaching six NBA Finals and winning four championships over eight years. They were tied as the second-longest-tenured trio in the league. They were the cornerstones of one of the greatest teams ever, winning an NBA-record 73 games in 2015-16. 

In a constantly shifting league, the Warriors’ Big Three was a constant. We got to know them as individuals. And as friends and brothers. Curry played with joy. Green played with fire. Thompson played with heart.

Then, we watched his heart break. 

Thompson was at the top of his career, considered one of the greatest shooters of all time, a Game 6 assassin, a Splash Brother, before back-to-back ACL and Achilles injuries robbed him of two and a half seasons of his prime from 2019 through January 2022. 

Thompson’s anguish has been palpable since. 

He desperately wants to return to his peak level. He fought through two incredibly challenging rehabilitations to get back onto the court. We saw him struggle to hold back tears with a towel over his head shortly before his return. We know how badly he wanted this. 

But he hasn’t been the same player since his return. He averaged 17.9 points on 43.2 percent shooting from the field and 38.7 percent from beyond the arc last season, his fewest points since 2012-13. 

Thompson is still an elite scorer and good defender. But things have changed, and he can’t consistently reach the peaks he once did. He’s also incredibly hard on himself when he feels he’s underperforming. Or his bursts aren’t as explosive as they once were. Or he’s in a shooting slump. Or his game has been diluted by his knee and Achilles deceiving him. 

Warriors coach Steve Kerr cautioned him last season to enjoy this before it all passes him by. That helped shift Thompson’s perspective. He tried to re-discover his love for the game.

But it’s clear things have been trending toward a divorce for a while.

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Talks around Thompson getting a contract extension stalled after he reportedly passed on a two-year, $50 million extension offer. He was asked to come off the bench for a while last season. There was obviously a growing fissure between the way Thompson wanted to be seen and the way the front office saw him. 

After the Warriors missed the playoffs last season, Thompson’s teammates and coach made it clear they wanted him to return.

“I can never see myself without those two guys [Thompson and Green],” Curry said.

“You don’t have the opportunity to finish with the guys you started with often, and we have that opportunity,” Green said on his podcast.

“We desperately want him back,” Kerr said.

But Thompson found the recent silence from the front office ahead of free agency deafening after pouring himself into this franchise. He wasn’t willing to be a second option. He wasn’t willing to wait. Or play a diminished role. Or take less money than he felt he deserved. Things were broken. And like a hurt ex, he even unfollowed the organization on Instagram in June.

It’s the unfortunate side of the business of basketball. 

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Thompson had spent his entire career with the Warriors after being selected by the franchise with the 11th overall pick in 2011. And it wasn’t long before he became a superstar. 

He set the NBA record for most points scored in a quarter with 37 in 2015, going 13-for-13 from the field and 9-for-9 from beyond the arc over the third period. He scored a career-high 60 points against Indiana in 2016 in 29 minutes with only 11 dribbles. 

He scored 41 points in Game 6 of the 2016 Western Conference Finals, helping the Warriors storm back from a 3-1 series deficit. He broke Curry’s single-game 3-point record (13) with 14 in 2018 against Chicago, scoring 52 points in under 27 minutes. He made two free throws after suffering a torn ACL in Game 6 of the 2019 Finals. 

He’s a five-time All-Star, a two-time All-NBA player and a one-time All-Defensive Team selection. He was the 3-point scoring champion in 2016. He’s one of the key reasons for the Warriors’ meteoric rise and incredible sustained success. 

And it’s clear he loved the team.

He defended Green when he crossed the line. He raved about Curry. He deeply respected Kerr.

And he adored the Bay Area. He bought a sailboat and learned how to sail it himself. He’d often take it to practice. He loved jumping into the chilly water in San Francisco. When he talked about the ocean, we’d see a smile on his face and a glimmer in his eyes. He described it as his happy place off the basketball court. “You just feel a little closer to God when you look up at the beautiful skies and you’re in the ocean,” he said during the 2022 NBA Finals. 

Now, for the first time in his career, he’ll be surrounded by unfamiliar faces. He’ll be landlocked. 

This much is for sure: He’ll be motivated. 

Thompson’s desire to remain with Golden State was well-known. Last season, he told reporters, “I would love to be a Warrior for life.” He’s going to want to show them he was underestimated. Overlooked. 

His future looks bright. 

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He’ll be playing alongside Luka Doncic and Kyrie Irving on a Mavericks team that reached the NBA Finals against the Boston Celtics in June. He’ll help open up the court for them. He could help them reach the next level.

But that doesn’t make the separation of one of the greatest trios in history any less bittersweet. 

There was a deep well of mutual respect between Thompson, Curry and Green. The latter two understood Thompson’s humor. His quirks. His pain. His perseverance. 

But that chapter has now come to an end.

It’s going to be a huge transition for them. And for all of us, who witnessed something rare and spectacular in the rise and fall of a dynasty. 

Melissa Rohlin is an NBA writer for FOX Sports. She previously covered the league for Sports Illustrated, the Los Angeles Times, the Bay Area News Group and the San Antonio Express-News. Follow her on Twitter @melissarohlin.

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