In 2014, when Kevin Love was considered a far better talent than he is right now, the Warriors and the Wolves engaged in serious trade talks that stalled and eventually ended because of one thing. The late Flip Saunders eventually sent Love to Cleveland for Andrew Wiggins and a guy called Anthony Bennett.
In short, the Wolves said it would be Klay Thompson or bust. The Warriors refused, and in hindsight, kept together the undisputed best shooting backcourt in NBA history.
But at the time, the general consensus outside of Oakland among NBA fans/players/coaches/execs was that the Warriors were probably refusing a favorable deal.
Tim Kawakami, a columnist for the San Jose Mercury News, wrote this shortly after the 2014-2015 season began:
Some also agreed with the Warriors’ thinking, but I’d say most NBA analysts and many front office people (and maybe even a few in the GSW hoops office) vehemently believed the Warriors were crazy not to do this trade.
Again, just because the Warriors are 9-2 and Thompson looks like a borderline All-Star doesn’t prove that the Warriors made the right call. That four-year, $69M deal Thompson signed is a plus and minus–plus because he’s locked up long-term and happy, a potential minus because it’s a TON of money and that will affect the Warriors’ salary structure immediately.
But the Warriors made the right call because Thompson is a better piece for them and because they didn’t know if Love was the long-term answer, because Love could opt-out, because he might cost $20M per when he opts-out and because the Warriors might be able to add somebody better eventually if that’s the going rate down the road.
And some part of me believes that Draymond Green is more valuable to the Warriors for what he does and how hard he plays… than Love would’ve been. Just straight up. (As long as the Warriors have Andrew Bogut to gobble up rebounds, that is.)
(Isn’t that funny to read? “Just because the Warriors are 9-2.” No one could have seen what was about to happen with these Warriors. No one knew they were about to become arguably the best team ever.)
The bigger point is, the Love deal seemed the right thing for the Warriors at the time, even after the GS’ hot start. Also, props to Kawakami for rightly predicting the meteoric rise of Draymond Green in the last graf.
About a year ago during this time, a report came out that the main opponent in the Warriors camp was Jerry West. Per SI’s Chris Ballard (story published June 11, 2015):
Perhaps West’s biggest contribution came last summer, though, when, along with Kerr, he adamantly opposed a trade centered around Thompson and Love. West argued that trading Thompson would be an enormous mistake. The Warriors were built on defense and Love, while a skilled offensive player, was a subpar defender. What’s more, West was certain Thompson would continue to improve, giving the Warriors a potential Hall of Fame backcourt for the next decade.
So who is to blame for this annoying/amazing Warriors team? Freakin’ Jerry West.
Now, these two players, both sons of former NBAers, who once played on the same Little League team in Portland, will square off in the NBA Finals two years after nearly being traded for each other.
Image via Mercury News