Updates from Sunday, July 20
The Minnesota Timberwolves forward who wants to wear a new jersey will suit up for Team USA later this month, as will the Golden State Warriors point guard whose team has been debating this notion of trading for Love for so long now. But as the days have continued to pass without a deal, and as the Cleveland Cavaliers have continued to ask themselves similar questions about Love and what price they're willing to pay to land him, this much has become clear: The Warriors still care about defense — a lot.
Their recent refusal to include guard and Timberwolves target Klay Thompson in the deal is rooted in this reality, as losing Thompson would not only leave Curry overexposed defensively in the backcourt but is compounded by the fact that Love — much like incumbent power forward David Lee, who would head to Minnesota if this deal got done — isn't exactly known as a two-way player. From Lacob on down, this is a major part of the Warriors' internal analysis and something that belies all the initial speculation about how this Kerr era might be defined.
Updates from Friday, July 18
Jon Krawczynski of the Associated Press has the latest on Thompson:
Andrew Wiggins has not been offered for Kevin Love. Klay Thompson has not been offered for Kevin Love. This is where things stand.— Jon Krawczynski (@APkrawczynski) July 18, 2014
Updates from Tuesday, July 15
Marc J. Spears of Yahoo! Sports provides information on a conversation new Warriors head coach Steve Kerr had with Klay Thompson:
Source: GS coach Steve Kerr called Klay Thompson recently to reiterate how excited he is to coach him & added not worry about trade rumors.— Marc J. Spears (@SpearsNBAYahoo) July 15, 2014
Updates from Saturday, June 28
Pioneer Press reporter Charley Walters has an update on Thompson's thoughts on the Timberwolves:
Although Love is forcing himself out of Minnesota, Thompson would accept coming to Minnesota if the deal were made, his father, Mychal, told the Pioneer Press on Friday.
"Klay's attitude about it is very professional," said Thompson, the former Gophers and NBA star said from Los Angeles.
"He says if he's traded, he'll make the most of it and enjoy playing with Ricky (Rubio, the Wolves' point guard), and if he isn't, he's fine. Either way, he's a pro and knows how to handle it."
Updates from Thursday, June 26
The Warriors’ Andre Iguodala doesn’t believe teammate Klay Thompson should be traded as part of a deal for Minnesota’s Kevin Love.
'That’s not going to happen,' Iguodala told Sirius XM on Thursday. 'I want to clear that up right now. We should not trade Klay Thompson. “I tell Klay this every day. I text Klay and say, ‘Don’t worry. I’m your man. I’m going to make sure you get paid. I’m going to get you the max (contract). You’ll be taken care of. Don’t stress.’
Klay really loves it in the Bay, and this is his first time going through trade rumors, and I’ve been through it many times, especially being in Philly. But Klay is my main man. I love Klay to death. One of my favorite people in the world even though he doesn’t speak. But we’re going to get Klay paid this year. He’s going to be a Warrior for life.
If I’m any other team, I’d take Klay as well, so I don’t know. You’ve got to look at the pros out of it. I tell Klay this: ‘Listen, if they’re talking about trading you for Kevin Love, that means you’re getting Kevin Love money.'
Updates from Wednesday, June 25
Marcus Thompson of the San Jose Mercury News reports on the thinking within the Golden State Warriors organization as it pertains to Klay Thompson:
Had a source tell me at least one member of Warriors brain trust wouldn't trade Klay Thompson for Kevin Love straight up— Marcus Thompson (@ThompsonScribe) June 25, 2014
The winning logic in GSW headquarters is that upgrading Lee not worth losing Splash Bros— Marcus Thompson (@ThompsonScribe) June 25, 2014
To dangle Klay Thompson or to not dangle Klay Thompson. That seems to be the question vexing the Golden State Warriors front office at the moment—to the point they cannot even agree internally.
ESPN's Ramona Shelburne and Marc Stein collaborated on a report Saturday that indicated Warriors head coach Steve Kerr and consultant Jerry West were the chief voices at the head of an "organizational split" on whether to add Thompson into a potential trade for disgruntled Timberwolves forward Kevin Love.
The young shooting guard is said to be the key to negotiations at this point. There have been multiple iterations of rumored deals sending Love to Golden State, each of which send Thompson elsewhere in some capacity.
“He’s got the right attitude,” Mychal Thompson told NBC Sports Radio, via Diamond Leung of the Bay Area News Group, on Saturday. “He’s not getting personally offended by his name being rumored to go someplace. He understands that unless your name is LeBron James or it’s Kevin Durant, anybody could be thrown into a trade or talked about in a trade."
Stein reported a tentative framework of a deal featuring Thompson, David Lee and at least one more asset for Love and shooting guard Kevin Martin. Mike Bresnahan of the Los Angeles Times cracked open a different scenario, in which the Los Angeles Lakers join the fray to acquire Thompson and send the No. 7 overall pick to Minnesota in a three-way deal.
ESPN's Chris Broussard reports that the Warriors won't be trading Thompson to two Western Conference teams:
Source: No way GState trading Klay Thompson to Minnesota or the Lakers.— Chris Broussard (@Chris_Broussard) June 23, 2014
Broussard expanded on the situation with the Timberwolves:
Serious game of chicken: source says no way GState getting KLove w/out giving up Klay Thompson. DLee & HBarnes not enough. Who blinks 1st?— Chris Broussard (@Chris_Broussard) June 23, 2014
For now, any iterations of the trade seem to be on life support—or at the very least on hold.
"Right now, I think it's unlikely," general manager Bob Myers said when asked if he sees the Warriors making a major move between now and the July 1 moratorium period. "Right now. Today."
Myers' wording obviously leaves plenty of wiggle room. Shelburne and Stein's report does not indicate which side of the "split" Myers falls on, but the general manager has a history of rolling the dice on big moves. Last summer, he dumped the salaries of Andris Biedrins and Richard Jefferson in order to sign forward Andre Iguodala outright rather than complete a sign-and-trade.
Adding Love, one of the game's 10 best players, would be another major coup that enters the Warriors into the NBA title discussion. The 25-year-old big man has become disenchanted with the Minnesota organization due to continued failures to add adequate surrounding talent, and his impending free agency next summer is forcing Flip Saunders to consider a move.
This past season, Love became the first player since Kareem Abdul-Jabbar in 1975-76 to average 26 points, 12 rebounds and four assists in the same season, per Basketball-Reference. The Warriors would instantly be among the game's most formidable offenses with Love in the fold. Love and Stephen Curry ranked third and fourth in the NBA, respectively, in win shares this past season as well.
All of that adds up to make Golden State's internal debate seem more like posturing than anything else.
Thompson is a fine player. He's increased his scoring averages each of his first three seasons, is a career 41 percent three-point shooter and combines with Curry to create the NBA's best shooting backcourt. His good relationship with Curry and his ability to atone for his backcourt-mate's defensive liabilities by occasionally guarding opposing point guards are other factors worth considering.
“When you have two shooters with the capability of Steph and Klay, that is rare,” Mychal Thompson said. “I’ve never seen this before, so why would you split it up when you have it right there in the palm of your hand?"
But, as Grantland's netw3rk pointed out, if Thompson is the cost of business for Love, it's worth biting the bullet:
Sorry, 190 threes. Love is the only player in history to go 2000 points, 900 boards, 190 threes. You give up Klay Thompson all day for that— netw3rk (@netw3rk) June 21, 2014
In the proposed trade, Thompson's entire offensive slack can be picked up by Martin. The aging guard is owed a little more than $21 million over the next three seasons, an onerous figure for an offense-only player, but was very effective in Minnesota last season. His 19.1 points and 38.7 percent shooting from distance are a near mirror image of the production Thompson put up.
Couple that with the significant upgrade from Love to Lee and the potential to add a defense-oriented perimeter player in free agency, and we're looking at a no-brainer for Golden State. The Timberwolves are going to be on the losing side of any Love trade, so it's understandable they're not willing to make a deal without Thompson.
If this deal is really on the table—and not just being floated by one side to drive up the price for their assets—then it should get done. West and Kerr may not want to lose Thompson, but it's a necessary evil.
Follow Tyler Conway (@tylerconway22) on Twitter.