Apr 14, 2014; Oakland, CA, USA; Golden State Warriors guard Klay Thompson (11) reacts after being called for a foul against Minnesota Timberwolves guard Kevin Martin (23) during the second quarter at Oracle Arena. Mandatory Credit: Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports

Golden State Warriors: Klay Thompson Must Be Expendable


The Golden State Warriors are a young, exciting team on the rise, one of only a few in the Western Conference that we can confidently say is a piece or two away from contending for a championship. In my book and the books of many others, firing Mark Jackson was a mistake in that line of thinking, but Steve Kerr is a promising coaching candidate who has been around some of the greatest basketball minds of all time like Michael Jordan, Phil Jackson, Gregg Popovich and Marv Albert. Still, another year under the belts of this team won’t elevate them to contender status alone, which explains the Dubs’ interest in trading for Kevin Love.

Earlier in the week, the Minnesota Timberwolves superstar expressed his interest in the Chicago Bulls and Golden State Warriors as potential trade destinations after informing the world that he would not be interested in re-signing with the Wolves after the 2014-15 season. Yes, Love is in the air. So with Minnesota’s fear of letting Love walk out the door for nothing becoming a very real possibility, the Wolves will strongly consider getting the best possible deal for their franchise player now, despite whatever Timberwolves owner Glen Taylor is saying.

The Boston Celtics, Houston Rockets, Phoenix Suns, Los Angeles Lakers and a few other teams will join the Warriors and Bulls in summertime Love craze, so there will be plenty of competition here. But Love is worth fighting for, and the Golden State Warriors have a unique pitch unlike any other team: “We have the best pieces, right now, that anyone can offer you. With guys like David Lee, Harrison Barnes and Festus Ezeli, you won’t have to start over from scratch and can remain competitive in this brutal Western Conference. Why depress your fans even more with a long rebuild when you can pair Ricky Rubio with a terrific power forward like Lee?”

Klay Thompson

Apr 14, 2014; Oakland, CA, USA; Golden State Warriors guard Stephen Curry (30) shoots the ball against Minnesota Timberwolves forward Kevin Love (42) during the third quarter at Oracle Arena. The Golden State Warriors defeated the Minnesota Timberwolves 130-120. Mandatory Credit: Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports

You’ll immediately notice two things, especially if you’re a Wolves fan urging caution on settling for a deal unworthy of Love: 1) Klay Thompson‘s name doesn’t show up and 2) This “unique” offer is actually a crap deal when the smartest thing for a Love-less Wolves team to do is avoid shortcuts and rebuild from the ground up. If the Warriors are sneaky enough to talk the Timberwolves out of this smarter approach, they have to sell Minnesota on the idea that the young pieces they’d be getting in return for Love are foundational pieces. And that means Klay Thompson would almost have to be included in the deal.

The Warriors wanting to be a contender, trading for Love and keeping as much of their current roster intact as possible form three intertwining strands of an incredibly difficult tightrope act. Giving up David Lee, Klay Thompson and Harrison Barnes would obviously be a blow to the Warriors’ core. But it would leave the Dubs with Stephen Curry, Andre Iguodala, Draymond Green, Kevin Love and Andrew Bogut, a pretty terrific starting five, especially with the way Green is coming along. But the Dubs would clearly be that much more dangerous if they had Thompson in tow.

Klay Thompson

April 09, 2013; Oakland, CA, USA; Golden State Warriors shooting guard Klay Thompson (11) gestures after scoring a basket against the Minnesota Timberwolves during the second quarter at Oracle Arena. Mandatory Credit: Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports

Unfortunately for the Warriors, and every other team looking for Love this summer, we’re not talking about some overrated star unworthy of a max contract. We’re talking about a top-10 player in the NBA, a guy who just put up 26.1 points, 12.5 rebounds and 4.4 assists per game while shooting 45.7 percent from the field and 37.6 percent from 3-point range. He was the only player to finish in the top four in the league of scoring AND rebounding and he had the third highest Player Efficiency Rating in the NBA (26.9).

In the past six years, Kevin Love has served up more double-doubles than my neighborhood McDonald’s. He’s a versatile big who can lock up the defensive boards, throw exceptional outlet passes to jumpstart a fast break and draw defenders out of the paint as a stretch-4. Blake Griffin probably earns the title of best power forward in the league because of his team’s success, the one knock against Love, but Minny’s superstar puts up better numbers than any other player at his position. There’s a reason only an exceptional package will convince the Timberwolves to give up on Love before the final year of his contract, even if him coming out and saying he won’t re-sign theoretically hurts any leverage Minnesota had in trade talks.

In an ideal world, the Golden State Warriors would be able to trade Lee, Barnes and their 2015 draft pick for Love without having to give up Klay Thompson. But that’s most likely not the best offer the T-Wolves will receive in the next few weeks for their superstar and if Taylor is true to his word, only a terrific offer will force Minnesota to turn its back on Love and start over. Any offer from the Dubs that doesn’t include Klay Thompson is not that offer, even if the Wolves aren’t serious about trading him before the draft.

Thompson’s first three years in the league have gone better than almost anyone could have anticipated. As the No. 11 pick in the 2011 NBA Draft, Thompson has developed into a deadly shooter, he just averaged 18.4 points per game and shot 41.7 percent from downtown this season, and he’s one of two founding members of the Splash Brothers. But is Thompson ever going to be an All-Star? Probably not. Would replacing Thompson with a serviceable shooting guard on a cheap contract while adding Love into the fold keep the Warriors at least as good as they are now? Absolutely. By that line of thinking, the Warriors need to do whatever they can to convince the Timberwolves that Golden State has pieces that could be instrumental in their upcoming rebuilding process.

Holding out on a Kevin Love trade for the sake of holding on to Klay Thompson would be like passing up a free cruise because you might get sunburned. Thompson is easily the most attractive of those pieces, since he’s not a 31-year-old former All-Star on an expensive contract (Lee) or young, athletic piece who showed this past season he might not amount to much more than that (Barnes). Steph Curry and Kevin Love in pick and rolls is a tantalizing enough concept in and of itself to make the Dubs pull the trigger and the Wolves would love a spot-up shooter like Thompson. When it comes to bringing a stud like Kevin Love to the Golden State Warriors, Klay Thompson must be expendable.


Tags: Featured Golden State Warriors Kevin Love Kevin Love Golden State Warriors Kevin Love Trade Rumors Klay Thompson Popular

  • David Kleinberg

    You’re wrong. Thompson is untouchable now, and is moving toward one of premier off guards in league. He’s deadly from three, is learning to drive, and dash, and is one of the best 2 defenders in the league. At 6-7, he has it all. Maybe Lee, Green (who is at least currently is much better than Barnes; and I’d hate to see go) and a No. 1 would do it. That’s the best the Warriors can offer unless they get a third team involved. Imagine: Bogut, Love, Iggy, Steph and Clay. No one would have a better starting five. Might not be possible because, as stated, Thompson should be untouchable.

    • Nick Jones

      People forget Klay added a pump-fake, scored more from in the the paint, and was able to mark top tier PGs and SGs all season. Saying he won’t be an All-star at some point in his career is a ridiculous statement that is all hypothetical considering this guy is developing on both ends of the floor at a rapid rate, so why don’t you re-evauluate him and check stats such as Curry/Thompson yielding the NBA’s highest +/- all season for a back court… the kid is without question untouchable,

      • http://hoopshabit.com Gerald Bourguet

        He’s a good defender and a more well-rounded player than people give him credit for. But think about what you’re saying for a minute. You’re calling Klay Thompson untouchable, in respect for trading him for arguably the league’s best power forward. That’s a bit much.

        • Nick Jones

          I respect the point I just think Klay is going to be a continue to be a great second option behind a still refining super-star, and you may say Kevin Love can transform the warriors with his boards and shooting but also let’s take a look at Kevin Love’s 3 point %… consistently inconsistent with the injury and this season he fell to .376, but if you look closer you see his peak was in 2011-2012 with 41% with the next highest season at again 37% with the remaining seasons being his rookie year of 10.6%, 33% the following year, along with of course the 20% season bearing injury. Klay is in terms of a shooter, consistently at 41% for his career and has the stats such as the highest % of catch and shoot 3′s, created off the Iguodala and Curry penetration. Kevin Love can pass decently but isn’t the key to a championship. I understand Love’s impact on the offensive end and his board dominance is huge, but again why make such huge moves on a guy that is sub-par on the defensive end with honestly not proven marksman abilities. I really do “Love” Kevin Love, just not at the cost of the proposed deals. I see the Warriors thriving in the years to come regardless of the trade.

          • http://hoopshabit.com Gerald Bourguet

            That’s fair, no one can make the argument that Love could fill the three-point shooting void that Thompson would leave behind. But a Curry-Love pairing elevates them to elite status and if Bogut could stay healthy for once, he’d make up for a lot of Love’s defensive issues. David Lee isn’t a great defender and Love is certainly an upgrade offensively. Losing Thompson would hurt defensively on the perimeter, but Andre Iguodala and Draymond Green would help there. A Curry-Love pick and pop would be deadly and I think Love’s percentages would go up with more open looks that Curry could provide. But yes, I agree the Warriors are in a good spot moving forward either way

          • Nick Jones

            Well said. We are merely mortals and are at the whims of the front office. You should understand the value that 3 point spacing makes on teams, even if it’s a pure shooter like Korver. For the guy commenting below me, he doesn’t understand the psychological factors that a knock-down shooter creates in terms of matchups and nightmares for coaches. Novak two years ago on the Knicks straight shot the lights out and led the NBA in 3 point % and we all forget how big of an impact he had day to day for Carmelo and NY. The point I am making is that for someone who is a Suns fan, you should understand the shift in the game to 3 pointers, Guys like Dragic and Gerald Green this year had huge improvements from 3% (.319->..407 and .314->.400 respectively) it’s inevitable that 3 pointers dominate the game, for better or worse. I think it’s what will be the cornerstone of a championship team in the next 10 years, and I think the warriors are that team obviously centered around Curry. Percentages do not lie and as teams shift to players that can shoot the 3 ball guys like Thompson who are not 1-dimensional shooters sky rocket in value, evidenced by the premise of this argument. This article last year would have me agreeing with you, but not after a season of watching every single game of Klay Thompson’s become evidence of his future value,

          • Steve Cefala

            It seems like the Warriors have always been great at 3point shooting , even for all those years they sucked 3′s were never a problem . I don’t think we should worry about 3′s so much . It would be nice to see some more midrange jumpers for instance . I think Mark Jackson was right that the team’s emphasis should be on defense . So they hire an offensive minded unproven coach to replace him . Great!

    • Steve Cefala

      All this stuff about Klay being such an amazing defender is rubbish . Also he and Curry both turn over the ball way too much with errant passes – especially at crucial parts of the game – including during the playoffs. And for all the talk about Thompson’s offense: doesn’t Kevin Martin actually avg. more points ? and will be cheaper than Klay when Klay gets the big contract . Igoudala sucked last year by the way . And Bogut is always injured . David Lee has been steady, positive, and a team leader in turning the team around . So of course they will trade him.

  • gargigulos

    Klay Thompson is not special in any way. He’s a good shooter. So what. Curry is a great shooter AND he has handles. You could replace Thompson with Kyle Korver or any number of players that can hit a jumper at a decent clip.

    • http://hoopshabit.com Gerald Bourguet

      Thompson is a young asset, he’s a terrific three-point shooter and he’s a very good defender. But the idea that he’s untouchable in a potential Kevin Love trade is ridiculous.

      • Nick Jones

        I respect your opinion Gerald but is this guy serious with the Korver analogy? Classic.

        • gargigulos

          I am serious in that Klay Thompson isn’t special. he’s a decent rotation player nothing more and could easily be replaced. Not a max contract guy by any stretch. I don’t get why he’s so overrated. Curry is the heart of the team. Lee and Bogut do what they do well when healthy. Thompson is just kind of there. He shoots when curry doesn’t. Big deal. He’s 11th in FG% for Shooting guards. You guys are overrating him.

          • Nick Jones

            Let’s just have a quick recap here, you cite Klay as decent rotation player with nothing special. Who else in the NBA falls under the category of a “decent” rotation player? I mean fundamentally the kid can straight out do much more than shoot if you take a look at stats strictly other than FG%, read up my friend about the real stats that determine a players value. Hitting Game winners, Check. Synergy with Curry, Check, Ability to lock down PG’s like CP3, Check, Pump-fakes and the NBA’s highest catch and shoot 3point%, Check, Top +/- with a guard combo between Thompson and Curry, Check. Now again how is Klay a “decent role player.”

    • Nick Jones

      If you honestly think that Korver and Klay are interchangeable in any regards other than knocking down shots you clearly don’t watch the Hawks or the Warriors my friend.

  • David Kleinberg

    Charles Barkley said early this season that Thompson was better than curry. Thompson has improved immensely since then, but Barkley is still wrong. Besides being a great shooter, Curry is also a great point guard and distributor. Anyone who makes everyone else on his team Goes to the top of the totem pole.

  • David Kleinberg

    Barkley made that statement because Thompson can shoot almost as well as curry, is 6 foot seven, and play some of the best defense for his position in the league. So the waters need to find a way to get love without giving up Thompson.

    • http://hoopshabit.com Gerald Bourguet

      I completely agree the Warriors should try to keep Thompson if at all possible, but my thing is that they shouldn’t back out of a deal if he DOES have to be included. Any time you’re talking about dealing for a top-10 player, there are going to be some great offers on the table. I highly doubt the Dubs could put together a package that appeals to the Wolves without Thompson being included.

      • David Kleinberg

        You might be right except that neither the Warriors nor Minnesota will decide what happens. . If Love decides he wants to be a Warriors, he’ll likely want Thompson there too. Love is on record as not just wanting to go to a contender, but also a first-class organization. The new Warrior owners have definitely demonstrated that they are that, and that a championship is the goal. And I would bet that the hire of Kerr has added to that in Love’s eyes. I was at the Minnesota game this year. Love hit the team’s first three shots, all 3s, and ended up with 40 points. 40 Love, good in tennis or basketball. Let’s hope it all turns out for the Warriors.

        • http://hoopshabit.com Gerald Bourguet

          Love took away a lot of the leverage Minnesota has in getting the best offer, but they still hold the power of a potential trade. If Love is going to walk, they’d have no problem trading him to Boston or Cleveland because they wouldn’t care whether or not he’d want to play for that team after a year when he can hit free agency. Unless Love comes out and demands a trade, the Timberwolves will still be the ones who decide where he gets traded (if he IS traded).

          • David Kleinberg
          • David Kleinberg

            Just sent you a link of a column written by columnist Bruce Jenkins of my hometown newspaper, the San Francisco Chronicle. You might find it interesting. He takes the same position that I do regarding Thompson. We will see what happens. I don’t think the Warriors have lost much if they lose love because they had to give up Thompson. Whatever they gain between Lee and love

          • David Kleinberg

            They would probably lose between Thompson and what they get to replace them. So their best bet is to give them anybody but Curry, Thompson, or

          • David Kleinberg

            Bogut. Sorry I can’t seem to post and make corrections when I dictate my posts, have to make multiple posts to complete one thought.

  • Mario Wheeler

    Why do the Warriors need Kevin Love? GSW want to stay under the salary cap.. Defense is what they need!

  • fitzwilliam777

    Not worth it, trade Bogut instead, altho they probably don’t want him