As rumors go, the trading of Klay Thompson was one of those imaginary what-ifs that fell flat on its ridiculous face. I’m not talking about a couple of weeks ago and the Kyrie Irving mess. But three 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.
Three 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.
A Klay for Kyrie trade was…well…ridiculous. The Warriors don’t need Kyrie. His ball stopping game doesn’t fit the Warriors style. Kyrie is a gifted scorer who can do Houdini like things with the ball. No point guard is more creative off the dribble and can make the exceptional out of some hot mess of an unheard of shot. But his defense is lackluster. He has zero leadership skills. He’s not out there helping his teammates but helping himself. There’s a reason Kobe Bryant was his favorite NBA player and is now his mentor.
But 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.
By all measurements, Klay had a strong 2016-17 despite his slow start. Kevin Durant didn’t affect his shots. He took the same amount of shots as before Durant. He took the same amount of threes. His trips to the line were identical to the previous season. His rebounds and assists were consistent. Klay figured it out.
Durant is an iconic talent and his integration was seamless and had no impact on Klay’s game. So that tactic by GM’s, Durant vs. Klay, doesn’t hold water either.
And so that is the backdrop of the Klay Thompson trade gossip. 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. Kyrie Irving isn’t a good enough player. Period.
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.
photo via llananba