Monte Poole

Why Warriors prefer Klay Thompson over Paul George

Why Warriors prefer Klay Thompson over Paul George

Once again, the Warriors chose Klay Thompson over another All-Star.

This time, it was the Indiana Pacers who came knocking in search of Thompson.

And Paul George, speaking Thursday on the podcast of venerable NBA reporter Adrian Wojnarowski, confirmed that he was the bait.

The Warriors, of course, did not bite. They have their reasons.

Before trading the four-time All-Star to the Thunder on June 30, the Pacers shopped George around the league in hopes of making the best deal. George can become a free agent next summer, and he announced plans to leave Indiana. The Southern California native previously had made it clear that he’d like to land with the Lakers.

He instead got Russell Westbrook and Oklahoma City, at least partly because the Warriors rebuffed Indiana’s overtures.

"Yeah, I was aware of it,” George said of the proposed deal involving Thompson. “I would have looked forward to it of just being able to be in a good situation and a chance to compete for a championship. It didn't happen. It's still fun to team up with a special talent and have a chance to compete against that team."

So why would the Warriors turn down an opportunity to add George to a group that would include Stephen Curry, Kevin Durant and Draymond Green? There are no fewer than three rational reasons.

First and foremost, it would come at the expense of Thompson, a three-time All-Star they drafted in 2011. The Warriors value Thompson as much -- if not more -- for his defense than his prolific scoring. They consider him the perfect partner for Curry, who benefits from Thompson’s floor-stretching ability on one end and his defensive qualities on the other.

George would have to play guard, and the 6-foot-9 forward wouldn’t be able to defend the perimeter players to which the Warriors assign Thompson.

Second, George needs the ball and Thompson doesn’t. Thompson needed only 11 dribbles to score 60 points in three quarters -- and had the ball for a total of 90 seconds. George might dribble 11 times in five minutes.

The questions about whether Durant’s game could exist within the framework of the Warriors were not legitimate. Any questions about whether George’s game could do so are profoundly legitimate.

Third, the prevailing opinion George is he will land with the Lakers, the team he grew up rooting for largely because of a player, Kobe Bryant, that George idolized.

How could the Warriors, no matter how confident they are in the seductive qualities of their culture, reconcile swapping two more years of a player they know for one year of one they don’t?

It was three years ago that the Timberwolves and the Warriors discussed a trade involving Kevin Love and Thompson. The Warriors considered it, but the brain trust was divided. Coach Steve Kerr and then-adviser Jerry West -- after watching video of Love on defense -- were vehement in their support of keeping Thompson. The Warriors walked away.

They have no regrets.

This time, the Warriors most assuredly didn’t reach the point of serious consideration.

George, for his part, doesn’t think it would have mattered, that the league would have stepped in to block a deal that would have sent him to the NBA champs.

“Yeah I think that would have been the Chris Paul to LA (Lakers) situation, where they denied that trade,” he said, referencing then-commissioner David Stern’s block of a deal that would have sent Paul from the Hornets to the Lakers.

For what it’s worth, the Paul-to-the-Lakers deal, in 2011, was easier to kill because the league already had taken temporary ownership of the Hornets.

Casspi, Young fill huge void for Warriors: Come off the bench and let it fly

Casspi, Young fill huge void for Warriors: Come off the bench and let it fly

OAKLAND -- The departure of Marreese Speights last summer snapped a Warriors streak that, with very few interruptions, lasted for the better part of 30 years.

It’s a link that began with Terry Teagle and Sarunas Marciulionis before running through the likes of Victor Alexander and Tony Delk and Chris Mills and Gilbert Arenas and Anthony Morrow and, eventually, Brandon Rush and Speights.

The Warriors almost always have had someone, through times good and bad, who comes off the bench for the specific purpose of scoring. Instant offense.

Not so last season, when they placed 21st in bench scoring (32.8 points per game) and, moreover, 29th in 3-pointers made at 2.1 per game.

Consider that hole patched. Veterans Nick Young, who signed last week, and Omri Casspi, who signed on Wednesday, are here to score. They’ll mix in some defense and they’ll pass a bit. But they’ve come to light up the scoreboard, with Young providing what was delivered by the best of Rush and Casspi filling the vacuum left by Speights.

“Those are two guys we’ve always liked,” assistant general manager Kirk Lacob said Wednesday, during the ESPN telecast of the Warriors-Timberwolves game in Las Vegas Summer League. “They’re multidimensional. They’ve got size. They’ve got length. And they can shoot. They’re shooters. We like shooters. We’re really happy about both guys. It adds a new dimension to our bench.”’

Casspi, who has come off the bench in 361 of his 499 NBA games, was quick to clarify what drew him to the Warriors.

“I want to run, I want to shoot 3s,” he said during his introductory news conference.

“Obviously, my game, I don’t shoot a lot of mid-range whatsoever,” the 29-year-old added. “I want to do whatever it takes to help, whether to play tough defense, shoot open shots or move the ball from side to side, defend, do the stuff I do.”

The 6-foot-9 forward -- the first native of Israel to reach the NBA -- has played for five different teams, usually in the role of bench scorer. He’s a 36.7-percent beyond the arc shooter for his career, though twice has posted seasons above 40 percent.

Casspi’s single-game scoring high is 36 points, compiled against the Warriors while he was a member of the Kings in December 2015. He was 13-of-18 from the field, including 9-of-12 from deep in a 122-103 Sacramento loss.

Casspi was outgunned that night by Warriors stars Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson, who combined for 52 points, including 11-of-25 shooting from deep.

“It was fun, one of those moments,” Casspi said. “It doesn’t happen often that you make shots (like that). Some guys make shots, but then you have a guy like Steph coming right back and doing even better. It was a night to remember.”

It’s that kind of offensive capability that has kept Casspi in the NBA and also made him attractive to the Warriors, who signed him to a one-year contract worth $2.1 million.

“I can’t wait for the season to start,” he said. “I have so much to prove, and a big chip on my shoulder to go ahead and do the stuff I need to do to help my team win. This is what I’m looking for.”

The Warriors, despite finishing first or second in nearly every offensive statistic, were looking for bench scoring. They are returning to their roots. With Young and Casspi on board, the team has doubled down in its pursuit of triples off the bench.

“I don’t know (Young) personally, but we’ve played against each other plenty of times,” Casspi said. “We have shooting all over the place. This is just great. This is something that compliments his game and my game. I’m looking forward to working with him and our coaching staff.”

Two games, two losses in Summer League for Warriors who fall to Cavs

Two games, two losses in Summer League for Warriors who fall to Cavs

Two games into the Las Vegas Summer League, the Warriors are winless.

Trailing from the start, the Warriors were handed a 91-74 defeat by the Cleveland Cavaliers at Thomas & Mack Center.

Alex Hamilton scored 11 points to lead the Warriors, with Jabari Brown adding 10 and Pat McCaw 9 on 3-of-15 shooting.

Damian Jones and Kevon Looney each totaled had 6 points and nine rebounds, with Jones adding two blocks. Rookie Jordan Bell posted 2 points, eight rebounds and a team-high three assists.

The Warriors shot 32.9 percent from the field, while Cleveland, led by Brandon Paul’s 21 points, shot 45.9 percent.

The Warriors opened Summer League play Saturday with a 95-93 loss to the 76ers.

The Warriors conclude the regular schedule Tuesday against the Timberwolves. The Summer League playoffs, featuring all 24 teams, begin Wednesday.