There are a few things in this league that are more important than sheer talent. A team's collective chemistry is one of those things.
The Golden State Warriors are in danger of threatening that connectivity as they dangle one of their prized assets in talks to acquire Kevin Love from the Minnesota Timberwolves. Those talks may or may not have reached a breaking point, but they certainly aren't proceeding without their fair share of expected drama.
ESPN.com's Ramona Shelburne and Marc Stein reported that the, "Warriors have hit an impasse in their trade pursuit of All-Star forward Kevin Love due to what is being described as an 'organizational split' on the willingness to part with prized shooting guard Klay Thompson, according to sources close to the process."
Per Shelburne and Stein, "sources told ESPN.com that Hall of Fame consultant Jerry West and new Warriors coach Steve Kerr have voiced opposition to surrendering both Thompson and a future first-round pick to the Timberwolves along with former All-Star forward David Lee for Love and Wolves guard Kevin Martin."
West and Kerr aren't the only ones expressing unease.
So too is 2013 acquisition Andre Iguodala.
According to Inside the Warriors' Diamond Leung, Iguodala told Sirius XM radio, "We should not trade Klay Thompson," going on to explain, "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."
As USA Today's Sam Amick put it, "The pro-Klay Thompson camp is speaking up in ways that they didn't seem to be just three days ago, and the stance — for now — that the Warriors third-year guard is going nowhere means there will likely be no deal done here unless someone budges."
Ambitious though this organization has proven to be, is it really willing to risk causing such a stir among its key contributors—potentially even ruffling Kerr's feathers in the process?
That would be beyond bold.
It would be counterproductive foolishness.
This roster is already on edge after the franchise parted ways with popular head coach Mark Jackson. Of Jackson's dismissal, star point guard Stephen Curry said in May that it's "stressful knowing how it all went down," according to the San Jose Mercury News' Marcus Thompson.
Per Thompson, "Curry said the emotions of watching his coach — the guy he most credits for improving his Warriors tenure — get canned, and being helpless to stop it, have yet to subside."
Two weeks later, Curry still didn't sound perfectly content.
"There's no sugarcoating it -- it was a weird, expedited situation that we didn't see coming," Curry said, according to the AP via ESPN.com. "And guys are human. You have to be able to adjust to it and have some time to respond. That's kind of what happened. I think we'll be fine once we have a clear picture of what's going on next year."
Curry added, "One thing I can say about this organization, they want to win. Each decision is geared toward winning...Obviously, I had a certain opinion of Coach Jackson that they made a decision otherwise, and I heard the reasons, but I won't dwell on it."
Sometimes loyalty is an integral part to that whole "wanting to win" thing.
That doesn't necessarily mean moving on from Jackson was a mistake. But having done so, another seismic move could generate serious consternation internally.
Curry has yet to take a firm stand on the talks reportedly involving Thompson, but Iguodala's voice should be heard loud and clear.
If the Warriors want their best players firing on all cylinders next season, they should tread lightly.
Everyone involved with the franchise wants to see this team get better, but not at the expense of one of its most promising young pieces. And certainly not at the expense of the cohesion that's gotten this team this far.
Even if there weren't such vocal opposition to dealing Thompson, there's something to be said for keeping a good thing going. There's something to be said for preserving the corporate knowledge that's been built over the latter two years of Jackson's tenure as head coach. This club is clearly on to something special, and playing musical chairs can be a dangerous gamble—even if it ostensibly improves the roster on paper.
Perhaps that kind of thinking is starting to sink in and gain sway within the organization.
The San Jose Mercury News' Tim Kawakami reports that, "An NBA source insisted to me that the Warriors flat-out will not agree to any of the proposals Minnesota is currently suggesting in the Kevin Love discussions."
"The first stumbling block," according to Kawakami, is that, "The Warriors are making it clear to everyone in the league, including Minnesota president Flip Saunders, that they very much do not want to part with Klay Thompson, the key part of any Minnesota demand."
That should come as welcome news to Thompson, and it should assuage the concerns of Iguodala and others.
At least for now.
Until Love is finally moved, Thompson will likely remain subject to a flurry of ever-changing rumors. Part of that has to do with the fact that he's due for a very expensive extension that could complicate Golden State's ability to add another cornerstone piece.
The Timberwolves clearly covet Thompson and are well aware of the financial implications of the Warriors holding onto him beyond next season. It's the driving force of their hope that Golden State will relent on this front, the idea that keeping him after his rookie contract expires next summer while somehow landing Love in the process means the Warriors' payroll would be somewhere between painful and untenable.
In other words, the Timberwolves are banking on the fact that keeping Thompson and adding Love would be too expensive for the Warriors to manage—especially with Curry and Iguodala (and Andrew Bogut's remaining contract) also in the fold. The Warriors would essentially be looking at paying four superstars according to their commensurate price tags, and that wouldn't be easy.
But nor would trading Thompson. The Warriors have built something special, and they know it. It may not have yielded a title just yet, but we should keep things in perspective.
This is a young team with its best basketball still to come.
Here's to hoping Klay Thompson will remain part of it.
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