Before Kevin Love was a Cleveland Cavalier, he was almost a Golden State Warrior.
In the summer of 2014, as the Minnesota Timberwolves were aggressively shopping their star forward, Golden State looked like Minnesota’s most likely trade partner. After all, the Warriors were a good-but-not-great team hoping to take the next step, and they featured a promising young player the Timberwolves reportedly coveted: Klay Thompson.
At the time, Thompson was a career 16-points-a-game scorer whose career-high 3-point percentage was a respectable 41.7 percent. He had neither been an All-Star nor come particularly close.
Love, on the other hand, was a bona fide star, coming off a season in which he averaged 26.1 points and 12.5 rebounds a game and was selected to his third All-Star Game. Love was 25 years old (soon to be 26), while Thomspon was 24, so the age difference wasn’t huge either.
Still, the Warriors balked, and the Wolves ended up shipping Love to Cleveland for a package centered around rookie Andrew Wiggins. And just about everyone thought that Golden State was out of its mind.
Just so we're clear, the Warriors chose not to trade Klay Thompson and David Lee for Kevin Love. Officially.
— Chris Towers (@CTowersCBS) August 27, 2014
@7Var Because they could have added Kevin Love and chose not to. That’s a huge mistake.
— Zach Harper (@talkhoops) August 26, 2014
@7Var Yes, very solid team. Could have been a title contender with Love. He would have stayed unless they fell apart.
— Zach Harper (@talkhoops) August 26, 2014
Kevin Love is good and all, but how could you possibly part with Klay Thompson? #BasketballComedy
— Jeff Skin Wade (@SkinWade) August 17, 2014
@steventurous is it me or is this whole debate about klay or wiggins for love completely insane? why wouldn't you do either deal??
— Matt Helgeson (@MattHelgeson) July 17, 2014
One East NBA coach on K-Love: "If I'm Golden State, I trade Klay Thompson. If I'm Cleveland, I trade Andrew Wiggins. Kevin is that good."
— Chris Mannix (@ChrisMannixYS) July 17, 2014
Based on Summer League trip, I'd say over 90% of NBA people outside the Bay think the idea of preferring Klay/Lee to Love is hilarious
— Ethan Strauss (@SherwoodStrauss) July 22, 2014
— Charlie Parrish (@charlieparrish) July 16, 2014
About as dumb as deciding not to trade for Kevin Love because they can't let Klay Thompson go. So, y'know, don't put it past them.
— Chris Towers (@CTowersCBS) July 20, 2014
— Brandon Tierney (@BrandonTierney) July 18, 2014
If the Warriors don't trade for Kevin Love because Steve Kerr is 'excited' to coach Klay Thompson, they'll regret it for a decade.
— Or Moyal (@OrMoyal) July 15, 2014
Let me get this straight… Warriors don't wanna give up Klay Thompson for Love and Cavs don't want to give up Wiggins for him. HUH?!?!
— Tony Rock (@TONYROCK) July 15, 2014
@diamond83 You have to give up Klay Thompson for Kevin Love. This is silly. I like Klay and understand his value, but it's go time.
— Andy Glockner (@AndyGlockner) July 13, 2014
HAHAHAHAHA MT @SpearsNBAYahoo: Wolves still focused on trying to land Klay Thompson in Kevin Love deal but Golden State won't budge on Klay
— Jace Evans (@JaceTEvans) July 1, 2014
Golden State won't move Klay Thompson for Kevin Love? Really? That's dumb. Real dumb.
— Cody Stoots (@Cody_Stoots) July 1, 2014
Spoke with a former long-time NBA coach last night. He told me that he'd trade Klay Thompson (with D. Lee) for Love in a heartbeat.
— SportsBusinessRadio (@SBRadio) June 24, 2014
— Brandon Tierney (@BrandonTierney) June 24, 2014
If the Warriors lost their chance to get Love because they refused to include Klay, they're nuts. Just totally insane.
— Chris Towers (@CTowersCBS) June 23, 2014
Several articles from major outlets played Devil’s Advocate, praising Thompson and extolling his value to the Warriors on both ends of the floor, but even then the authors concluded that Golden State should pull the trigger and trade for Love.
— Sports Illustrated (@SInow) July 23, 2014
— JohnnyG (@johngreenphoto) July 18, 2014
We all know what happened next. Thompson blossomed into an All-Star and one of the NBA’s best shooters, helping the Warriors to the 2014-15 NBA title and 73 wins in 2015-16. On Monday, he again reminded us how good he can be, scoring 60 points in 29 minutes in a Warriors win. Love, meanwhile, struggled to find his role in Cleveland and immediately saw his numbers drop across the board (though he, of course, did win a ring last season). He has been at the center of trade rumors for almost a year now. Although Love is having a bounceback season and Thompson has been inconsistent so far, Golden State’s decision to hold onto Thompson instead of acquiring Love looks obvious in retrospect.
Now, it’s certainly possible that if Love had joined Curry with the Warriors and Thompson had gone to a moribund Timberwolves franchise, their fates would have been switched. But as it is, we can laugh heartily at tweets like this one:
And if I live to be 100 I'll still never understand why Golden State won't move Klay Thompson for Kevin Love. That seems crazy to me.
— Gary Parrish (@GaryParrishCBS) July 26, 2014
Do you understand now, Gary?