Game one: 27 points. +22. 84%. 83% from three. 36 minutes. 1 turnover.
As rumors go, the trading of Klay Thompson was one of those imaginary what-ifs that fell flat on its ridiculous face over the 2017 summer. But several years ago. Jerry West, somewhat of a Thompson apologist, nixed a deal that would have sent Klay Thompson to Minnesota for Kevin Love. West was adamant. No way, no how. Thompson stays. That next June, the Warriors won the NBA Finals and even though Thompson didn’t perform well in the Finals, 30% on threes, he was a valuable asset to the Warriors win over the Cavaliers. His chemistry with Steph Curry was a significant part of the Warriors backcourt dominance.
Four years have come and gone since Jerry West drew that line in the sand. We know more and we know the same. Klay Thompson is untouchable. He is asked to shadow the best perimeter scorer on the opposing team. He is asked to sacrifice his offense. He is asked to make big shots. Trading Klay Thompson, a two way player, makes absolutely zero sense. Someone has to sacrifice and do what is necessary. Trade him for who? James Harden? He plays no defense. Bradley Beal? He is one dimensional, three point or bust. C.J. McCollum? His defense is ordinary. Jimmy Butler? He is the closest to Klay as far as a two way player but he is an average three point shooter. Butler’s iso game doesn’t fit the Warriors.
But GM’s keep calling.
Here is the sales pitch for Klay around the league. Hey Warriors. Want to increase depth? We are not asking for KD. Nor Steph. Nor do everything for you Draymond. Klay is who we want. Trading him would allow you to add a sensational guard and another offensive piece to the Warriors bench. The defense might drop off a little but the offense would improve. Or, a LeBron chase.
By all measurements, Klay had a strong 2017-18. Career highs in many categories.
Klay teammate Kevin Durant is an iconic talent and his integration into the Warriors culture has been seamless. His presence, as had been feared, had no impact on Klay’s game. So that particular scare tactic by GM’s, Durant vs. Klay, doesn’t hold water. Nice try though.
And so that is the backdrop of the Klay Thompson trade gossip when it comes around which it always does. If you can get return for his value, a scoring guard and some bench pieces, it is something to think about. Why wouldn’t the Warriors listen?
They would. For about five minutes and then they laugh. Klay Thompson will not be traded. Reason number one: you don’t break up a championship team because you are playing mad scientist. You add pieces. You don’t take them away. Second: there is no trade out there that would make sense. It would be a 2 for 1 trade and there isn’t a shooting guard and a center good enough to risk breaking up what the Warriors have built their team around. Trading Klay would make the rest of the NBA better. The Warriors would be worse. The Warriors backbone, what their team has been about ever since the Warriors drafted Klay from Washington State in 2011, would be over.
Klay isn’t one of those flashy players the NBA and ESPN loves to highlight in their promotional material. But he is as critical to the Warriors success as Steph Curry, Draymond Green and Kevin Durant. He drains shots. He guards scorers with physicality and willfulness and he can make big shots. He checks all the intangible boxes.
You don’t trade to make your team less than what it was. You trade to improve, plug up holes,keep the dynasty in tact. Until a two way guard who drains threes and is unselfish and is younger than Klay comes down the pike, Klay Thompson stays in Oakland and then San Francisco.
It’s a no brainer. You can ask. But the Warriors are saying no. Every single time.