Report: Defense the reason Warriors won’t include Klay Thompson in trade for Kevin Love

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The Warriors and Timberwolves got close on a deal that would have sent Kevin Love to Golden State, but the main sticking point was reportedly Minnesota’s demand that Klay Thompson be included as part of the package.

Those inside the Warriors organization were split on whether or not to give up Thompson, and on the surface, it appeared as though the team didn’t want to break up its promising young guard tandem for offensive purposes — after all, they are the greatest shooting backcourt in the history of the game.

But the real reason for keeping Thompson, according to the latest report, is that the Warriors are actually concerned about the defense.

From Sam Amick of USA Today:

The Mark Jackson firing and Steve Kerr hiring in mid-May were undeniably driven in part by the desire to improve offensively, as owner Joe Lacob and so many others within the organization grew tired of seeing their wondrous scoring talents so often struggle in the former coach’s system. But the post-Kerr question about Golden State’s third-ranked defense and what lied ahead on that end of the floor has been quietly answered during these seemingly-endless discussions about Love.

In short, they’re not willing to ditch the defense.

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.

Offense is easier to fix than defense, especially when the talent is already in place. With Kerr and associate head coach Alvin Gentry, who ran the top-ranked Clippers offense under Doc Rivers last season, the Warriors are likely to see a noticeable jump from last season’s effort that saw them finish the year there ranked just 12th.

The other issue that’s favorable to the Warriors where Thompson is concerned is his contract, because even though he’s likely to push for a max extension, his max deal would cost the team less than would one for Love, which would be required at the conclusion of the upcoming season.

If the brain trust in Golden State really believes that adding Love at the expense of Thompson doesn’t immediately vault the team into the realm of title contention, and that the overall drop on the defensive end would cancel out any benefits offensively, then standing pat is the way to go.

Superstars of Love’s stature aren’t made available in trade every day, however, so everybody better be on the same page in making this decision in case the Warriors keep Thompson, and end up going in the opposite of the desired direction.