Mar 22, 2014; Oakland, CA, USA; Golden State Warriors guard Klay Thompson (11) reacts after being called for a traveling violation against the San Antonio Spurs in the first quarter at Oracle Arena. Mandatory Credit: Cary Edmondson-USA TODAY Sports

Why Klay Thompson Should Be Tradable In Potential Kevin Love Deal

In his third season in the NBA, Klay Thompson emerged as one of the best shooting guards in the NBA.

That being said, even in what was a breakout season for the Washington State product, the Golden State Warriors should be willing to trade him if it allows them to get Kevin Love in return.

Thompson’s game took great strides for the Warriors this past season. He upped his scoring average, improved his three point shooting percentage, shot a better percentage from the field, and turned the ball over less. But Thompson’s improvement and importance to the Warriors was more than just because of his offensive game.

Even with the addition of Andre Iguodala, Thompson appeared to be the Warriors best wing defender. If you don’t believe me, just watch any film from the Clippers-Warriors first round series. Whenever the Warriors needed stops defensively, Thompson guarded Chris Paul, one of the league’s best players. Andre Iguodala did not.

But Thompson still has not shown major improvements in his playmaking ability or rebounding ability. He is still the true definition of a “shooting” guard.

Last week after a report that Kevin Love is not planning on signing an extension with Minnesota, the Warriors were linked in countless trade rumors that would send the UCLA product to the Bay Area. The Warriors best package would likely be centered around David Lee and a younger player, either Harrison Barnes or Klay Thompson, but owner Joe Lacob made it clear that the Warriors don’t plan on trading Thompson.

What a shame that would be.

Are you telling me that the Warriors would actually be unwilling to ship off Thompson and David Lee for Kevin Love? Even if it was only two years of Love? He is one of the ten bet players in the NBA. He is a true six feet and 10 inches tall and can do just about anything he wants on the offensive end of the floor. Love averaged 26.1 points and 12.5 rebounds this past season and has averaged double-digit rebounds each of the past five seasons. Love not only has legitimate three-point range, but can also play in the post. Pick-and-roll’s involving Stephen Curry and Love would be almost impossible to stop.

But the Warriors don’t want Love. They would rather have Klay Thompson.

The Western Conference is loaded with stellar guards: James Harden, Damian Lillard, Goran Dragic, Russel Westbrook, Chris Paul, Mike Conley and Tony Parker among others. In other words, Thompson is good, but the players above are in another class. Thompson may make one All-Star team, but I have a hard time believing that he would make consecutive All-Star teams with all the competition for the Western Conference guard spots. Love is already a three-time All-Star and looks poised to continue to be a dominant force in the NBA for years to come.

While the Warriors don’t want to break up the Warriors’ Splash Brothers backcourt, they have shown that they can find talent even without having first round picks. The Warriors found Draymond Green in the second round and he has emerged as their best bench player. Without a first round pick this season and in 2017 and 2019, the Warriors will need to do a good job signing free agents and a good job finding gems like Green in the second round.

It can be done. You can find a guy a shooting guard who can score 12 to 15 points per game, dish out three assists, and collect three rebounds per game. But it is rare to find a player with Love’s ability. And for as good Thompson was this year, if it means giving him up to get Love, the decision should be a no brainer.

Tags: Klay Thompson

  • PeteyBrian

    Agreed, but it’s also very early in this process to be throwing out your better hands. The W’s Front Office is street savy – and will try to pay less first. I mean, we’re talking the Minnesota Timberwolves here – who if they’d have not passed on Stephen Curry (Johnny Flynn) – they might have inked Kevin Love to a max deal already!!!

    • Ben Pickman

      Thanks for the comment. You are correct to an extent. Anyone with eyes knows that Klay Thompson is better than Harrison Barnes. Not surprisingly the Warriors would rather trade Barnes over Thompson and so it is not a bad tactic to say that Thompson is untradeable especially to the media. It would not be surprising if internally, the Warriors management has discussed moving Lee and Thompson to the Wolves in exchange for Love. But we have not heard reports of those discussions. But your latter point is not as valid as the Timberwolves management that took Johnny Flynn was headed by GM David Kahn. He is now gone. Flip Saunders is running the show.

      • PeteyBrian

        I think “at the end of the day” the W’s offer even more than Lee and Klay to pair Kevin Love with Stephen Curry. All the W’s/Timberwolves talk is just posturing and positioning… After all, the Minnesota Timberwolves are on record that they have no intention of trading Kevin Love… LOL!

        Kevin Love seems to hold all the cards (leverage) here. We’ll just have to wait until the draft or the February deadline…

        The question we should all be asking is – where does Kevin Love want to
        play (where will he be willing to sign an extension)?

  • Alan Craig

    Warriors are posturing to try and get best deal. The Wolves would be fools to take anything less than Thompson/Lee. That deal would put Wolves in playoffs since they were 40-42 despite Pekovic missing 28 games. Lee has averaged 18-10 for last 6 years with Knicks and Warriors. Since Rubio isn’t a scorer, Thompson would be a 20+ ppg. Plus they have their number 1 in draft and can get other 1′s from teams wanting Love if Warriors don’t play ball.

    • Ben Pickman

      While Thompson and Lee for Love would work it is unlikely to happen. The Wolves have a ton of Wing depth. Kevin Martin was signed last offseason to a long term free contract where he makes almost 7 million per year. They have 3 more years of Chase Budinger at 5 mill per season. They also have Corey Brewer for 5 mill per and their first round pick last season Shabazz Muhammed also plays on the perimeter. That is why the Warriors would have to take either Budinger or Brewer back in return as well. The T-Wolves seem to be more interested in Barnes because they are looking for their small forward of the future. They like Kevin Martin a lot and Martin and Thompson can play a similar role for a team. The Warriors also don’t have a pick to give away. The Warriors can trade their first round pick but not until after the draft. The Wolves are struggling to find the perfect team to trade with. Team’s like the Warriors and Rockets have some attractive assets but no picks. The Celtics and Suns on the other hand have mediocre assets and a ton of picks.

      • Alan Craig

        Barnes regressed so much that his value has dropped. Wolves have plenty of suitors so Warriors have to give them value. Also, a healthy Budinger can shoot 3 pointers and run, so he wouldn’t be bad addition and would match contract numbers. Martin is 31 and would be a better scorer off the bench which is what many teams need. So they could keep him or trade him. Brewer easily outplayed Barnes and is better defender. Wolves want playoffs now and injuries kept them from getting there. They’re not looking for youth movement because Pekovic 28

        • Richard Truong

          He wasn’t use to being the 6th man. In Minnesota, he’ll be a starter. On a loaded team like the Warriors, most of the players are starters on other squads. It was either Klay or Harrison going to play SG but since Klay’s D is better, then Klay got the nod.

          • jaybo

            Harrison Barnes regress was partially due to the fact he had to get use to playing on the bench, also cause Mark Jackson isolated him making him have to create his own shots or post up. Harrison Barnes is at his best when he is used off the ball and is used as a cutter or a spot up shooter. Mark Jackson wanted tried to change is identity taking away from his game and taking his confidence away. If you put him in a system where he can play the way he best suited for it will only help him.

          • Alan Craig

            After last year’s playoffs Barnes became flavor of offseason with stretch 4 talk. It was offseason B.S. and now this year’s flavor is Green as starter. While Green is not a starter type he is excellent bench player. Barnes isn’t because he needs others to get him the ball and works better in running game. If they traded Thompson, Barnes would be SF, and Iggy SG where he played most of career. He was lost trying to play wing and spacing the floor. His game is going to hole like he did against Clippers. The Warriors aren’t loaded and Barnes is only other starter type.

  • $eany B

    Tradable if it means getting Love, he’s hit his ceiling as a player…maybe he’ll get slightly better but he’ll never be a superstar. Klay will almost get the max extension, laughable he’ll be paid more than Curry.

    • jaybo

      You can’t say he hit his ceiling maybe he did playing in Mark Jackson’s system. But he is going into his 4th season. Look at Paul george nobody thought he would be a all star. Steve Kerr if anybody could get Klay to play at an all star caliber, being he played SG and being he played with the greatest SG all time.

      • Ben Pickman

        Paul George different player than Thompson. Kerr will use him well and will enjoy coaching both Thompson and Curry, but Thompson will not be George. George is 6’9” Thompson is 6’6” or 6’7”. Though both are good defenders, Thompson is nowhere near as complete a defender as George. Thompson can stifle point guards but is not as good against LeBron and Durant-types. George is the prototype for the LeBron/Durant defender. Statistically his game has not seen a ton of growth, but he has improved greatly both on offense and defense. I agree that he has not hit his cieling, but disagree he will never be an all-star. Look at the guards in the West. I listed some of the best ones in the article. He is not and will not be better than Tony Parker, James Harden, Goran Dragic, Stephen Curry, Russel Westbrook, Damian Lillard, and Chris Paul.

        • jaybo

          Paul George is 6’8 im not saying he is going to be Paul George im saying nobody thought Paul George would be as good as he is,I dont like to compare players because they all have different talents. George defense is better but Klay’s is still working on his defense given another year or two he could be just as good on defense as anybody. He is only going into his 4th season . When Curry was in his 3-4th season nobody really seen him being as good as he was,Most fans wish he would of got traded so they could of kept monta ellis . Im Just tryna say time will tell , you can never doubt a player so early in their career . Like Goran Dragic great player but who really seen him having the year he had. Klay may never be as good as any of the topplayers you mentioned , keyword is MAYBE we will have to wait to see him prove us wrong

  • jaybo

    Klay’s playmaking is a product of Mark Jackson’s shoot everytime if your open. The warriors offense was based on 1-2 passes per possession. He wasn’t asked to be a play maker. Thats one of the reasons they picked up Igoudala. But Steve Kerr offense is 3 or passes this is going to take away Klay’s shoot first mentality. He was asked to be a lockdown defender and he accepted it, if he’s asked to be a better playmaker im pretty sure he will accept and own that role. I feel like if you cant get Love for Lee and Barnes then you shouldn’t pull The trigger. If Klay was an injury riddled player then I would be all in, but you can’t loose a player that hasn’t missed a game because of an injury for someone who has been injured almost every year. Kevin Love is a great player also in final year of deal, so there’s no telling if he would sign an extension on any team he goes to next

  • Steve N

    How quickly we forget. The warriors starting 5 was one of if not THE best unit in basketball this year. The starters were not the problem, the bench was. Why should we trade 2 starters for one starter and thin out the team even further? That’s just crazy. Love will be a free agent next off season. I say wait and see what happens with our current starting 5 under Kerr and if things don’t improve then go after Love next off season. At that point Lee is much easier to move too.

    • Ben Pickman

      Well ideally you only make the trade with a guarantee that Love will stay. The Warriors would not trade Lee and Barnes/Thompson for a one year rental. And because Kevin Love is Kevin Love. the guy is on the verge of becoming a true superstar. They can fill out their bench by signing quality cheap guys if they need to. Look at the Heat’s bench. It can be done.

  • Hugomarink

    Thompson is still too inconsistent as a scorer, which makes him tradable, especially because they can get value for him. Of course once they trade him he’ll probably become an elite player, but I think if you can get Kevin Love in a deal for Lee and Thompson that the Warriors should do it. Absolutely.

  • methuselah46

    The question is not whether the Dubs are better with Love or Thompson, it’s whether they are better with Love than they are with both Thompson and Lee. For all his defensive liabilities, Lee is an excellent player. Also, I expect Thompson to continue to grow his game. In the second half of this season I saw signs that Klay could become an all-star in the next couple years.

    Barnes has potential but doesn’t fit the Dub’s system…he thinks too much & would be better off in the East with a team that plays a slower half-court style…Chicago maybe??

    • Ben Pickman

      I don’t think there’s any question that Dubs management would want to trade Harrison Barnes instead of Thompson. They could package Thompson/Lee for Love and trade Barnes seperately for a team looking for a three/stretch four. If Melo leaves New York, Barnes for Iman Shumpert maybe. The Nuggets and Jazz have young wing talent. And there is wing depth in the draft.

  • 9erNation2012

    Why would the Warriors give up Klay and Lee, when all you have to do is wait out the Wolves? Love is leaving no matter what and it’s up to the Wolves to get something in return before that time comes. Lee and Barnes or nothing, who else has a better deal on the table?

    • Ben Pickman

      Because if they wait and don’t act they will miss out on Love. The Wolves will trade him, but they are looking for the best package. Phoenix and Boston have a ton of picks. The Rockets and Warriors have assets. The Lakers want to be included but are not a true contender. And teams such as the Cavs and Kings have also been rumored to be interested. The T-Wolves don’t necessarily need the Warriors to trade with them. if they think that a boatload of picks and plus some role players from Phoenix is a better deal than Lee and Barnes from the Warriors then they will look to the Suns. The Wolves have better options. Lee did not perform up to his ability in the playoffs and Barnes has been very inconsistent. I think the Boston Celtics and Rockets both have better possible packages. And Love must be salivating at the prospect of playing with Harden and Dwight, two team USA teammates.

      • 9erNation2012

        Yea but Thompson is still growing and his game is becoming more all around, so why would they trade him and Lee for Love even though it leaves a hole at the 2 spot? Thompson is the second best wing defender on the team and second best 3 pt shooter, who do you put in his spot? There’s also the rumors that Lacob and co are already trying to sign Klay to an extended deal so that leaves us with just Barnes and Lee to deal. Why not just go after someone like Melo if he opts out (word is he is thinking hard on doing so) and not have to give up any pieces other than to dump Lee off on someone like the Magic?

        • Ben Pickman

          The Warriors don’t have the cap space to get Melo and if they want to sign and trade for him they don’t have enough value in their picks to use the picks as the sweetener of the trade. Thompson is a great two guard, but he is nowhere near Kevin Love in terms of ability. You can replace a good two guard. The Dubs can sign a player who can give them 12-15 points and a few rebounds and assists. But Kevin Love is a franchise player and franchise players are hard to find.