Last summer, the Golden State Warriors were in the mix to get Kevin Love out of Minnesota, but Flip Saunders would not back off his asking price — Klay Thompson. A lot of people (myself admittedly included) thought they should pull the trigger.
They didn’t. It was the right move.
Thompson blossomed this season under Steve Kerr, who gave him added responsibilities. Meanwhile the Warriors found the versatile four they needed in Draymond Green.
Who was maybe the most vocal about keeping their shooting guard? Arguably the best shooting guard of all time — Jerry West. The part owner and consultant to the team was ready to walk if ownership pulled the trigger on the deal, reports Chris Ballard in a brilliant piece for Sports Illustrated (his work is almost always must read).
Perhaps West’s biggest contribution came last summer, though, when, along with Kerr, he adamantly opposed a trade centered around Thompson and Love. West argued that trading Thompson would be an enormous mistake. The Warriors were built on defense and Love, while a skilled offensive player, was a subpar defender. What’s more, West was certain Thompson would continue to improve, giving the Warriors a potential Hall of Fame backcourt for the next decade.
West felt so strongly that, according to one person close to the negotiations, he threatened to resign if the team made the trade. Chances are, West wouldn’t have actually done it—that’s just the way he talks—but when the most successful talent evaluator in league history feels that adamantly about something, it’s probably worth listening.
West tends to feel strongly about everything. And he’s right far more often than he’s wrong.
As it is with Steve Kerr and his coaching staff and players, the Warriors front office moves are a collaborative effort. It is not a top-down dictatorship. GM Bob Meyers, Kerr, owner Joe Lacob, West and a couple of assistant GMs (including Lacob’s son Kirk) all collaborate on team decisions. There are debates and disagreements, things are hashed out and a decision reached.
That doesn’t mean there is always a consensus, and there wasn’t on trading for West. But as a group they reached their decision. Thompson stayed.
And now the Warriors are within one win of an NBA title because of it. In part, because of West.