As it goes with every hectic trade deadline and rumors according to sources responding to rumors, the Golden State Warriors' Klay Thompson somehow found himself on the trading block. The rumors quickly circulated of a package involving Thompson that would bring over Eric Gordon from the New Orleans Hornets, making him the 288th (somewhere around there) player the Warriors would play who has some sort of nagging injury.
A potential starting lineup that includes Andrew Bogut, Stephen Curry, and Gordon shares about two combined healthy knees and ankles—not a good look. But that isn't the only reason why the Warriors shouldn't trade Thompson. It isn't because of Eric Gordon's health or availability but a combination of internal and external factors that should dictate the Warriors keep Thompson.
First up, we take a look at the salary numbers for players that the Warriors would take back when trading a young asset like Thompson.
Last week, the Houston Rockets traded Patrick Patterson among other bench players for a top draft pick in Thomas Robinson. Reason? They knew what they were going to get with Patterson, and he was nearing the end of his rookie contract.
Robinson, on the other hand, had a couple more years on his rookie deal and presents skills as a rebounder that portends him being a beast on the boards. Trading a solid role player who's about to become too expensive for a young player boasting promise is a top-notch move.
For the Warriors, the pitfall of trading for Gordon would be having to take on the veteran guard's max contract. And seeing that they just traded two somewhat talented bench players (Charles Jenkins and Jeremy Tyler) for salary-cap relief, a move to acquire Gordon doesn't make much financial sense.
That being said, the Warriors are probably looking ahead to offseasons and don't want to start paying the repeater tax, especially if they're over by such a small amount. Unless your name is Mikhail Prokhorov or the someone associated with the Los Angeles Dodgers, chances are you can't afford it.
Gordon would put them well over the luxury tax.
That brings us to the next point. Is Gordon that much better than Thompson? The second-year guard just finished off a game in which he harassed Tony Parker into a 7-for-18 shooting performance with three assists. It's just one game, but we see how Thompson's height can provide problems for opposing guards.
When healthy, Gordon is a dynamo shooter and a terrific scorer off-the-dribble. Just one problem, however. Gordon has played 85 games in the past two seasons and change. Say what you will about Thompson's struggles handling the ball, he's still played 122 games in fewer than two full seasons. And it isn't like Gordon's struggles with his knee are behind him, as he still is sitting out the back end of back-to-backs.
That's a recipe for failure for a Warriors team that's once again without Bogut.
Injury concerns notwithstanding, one could argue that the risk of a Thompson-for-Gordon deal is worth the reward for Golden State, because the Warriors ostensibly need a slasher and a go-to scorer to get them over the proverbial playoff hump.
If not Gordon, then whom? Other slashers who are great young players are mostly untouchable. From Paul George to James Harden, there isn't a single healthy, promising player for whom the Warriors could possibly trade Thompson.
An aging veteran player who may help them on their stretch run? Perhaps, but at what cost?
Thompson shouldn't be untouchable, but the Warriors shouldn't mortgage their future for a player to win now, especially with the Western Conference race essentially coming down to three teams: the San Antonio Spurs, Oklahoma City Thunder and Los Angeles Clippers.
In the past several years, the Warriors have been active in trade talks for Chris Paul, Dwight Howard and James Harden and have yet to pull the trigger. One could possibly see them making a big move in the offseason, but evaluating their young core this season is a higher priority, especially without the option of a significantly more promising player than Thompson on the trade market.