The debate: Love for Thompson?

The debate: Love for Thompson?
June 20, 2014, 7:30 am
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Kevin Love averaged 26.1 points and 12.5 rebounds last year; Klay Thompson averaged 18.4 and 3.1. (USATSI)

The mere possibility of the Warriors including guard Klay Thompson in a deal to acquire Timberwolves forward Kevin Love has ignited a debate likely to burn among Warriors fans beyond the day the deal is dead or done.

I get it. Thompson, 24, is a terrific young player who made appreciable improvements each season since entering the league in 2011. He conceivably is the best two-way (offense and defense) big guard in the league.

Thompson and point guard Stephen Curry are as good as any backcourt in the NBA. There are reasons the Warriors made it clear they do not want to move Klay.

The idea of breaking up the "Splash Brothers" -- the franchise's best guard duo since Tim Hardaway and Mitch Richmond nearly a quarter-century ago -- churns stomachs inside and outside the organization.

But when a playoff team with one certified All-Star (Curry) has an opportunity to add another (Love), it is practically obligated to do so. That's how playoff teams become championship contenders.

[REWIND: Warriors willing to include Klay]

It is almost impossible to win an NBA championship with one All-Star/Hall of Fame caliber player on the roster. Though Thompson likely will become an All-Star, Love, 25, already is.

Here are some of the pros and cons of the Warriors making such a move:

Pro: They'd add a power forward who rebounds as well as any in the league.

Con: They'd lose a shooting guard who is capable of defending both the guard position as well as small forwards.

Pro: They'd create a PG/PF combo (Curry and Love) that would cause headaches for defenses and be particularly devastating in the pick-and-roll.

Con: They'd break up the most lethal scoring backcourt in the league.

Pro: They'd concede that championships are not won off the fingers of lethal scoring backcourts.

Con: They'd add a power forward whose defense is sub-mediocre.

Pro: They'd add a power forward who could play center in a small lineup.

Con: They'd need to find a guard who could adequately defend opposing backcourt scorers. Such a guard is not on Minnesota's roster.

Pro: They'd be able to offset Clippers power forward Blake Griffin at either end.

Con: They'd get torched by Clippers point guard Chris Paul -- at both ends.

Understand now, the deal remains fluid, with numerous moving parts. The core, however, is David Lee and Thompson for Kevin Martin and Love. Inasmuch as Love is the best of the four and Martin the least valuable, it is a fair for both sides.

The Warriors entered discussions with Timberwolves basketball chief Flip Saunders with the hopes of keeping Thompson in Oakland. They'd rather trade Harrison Barnes. But Minny wants Klay -- so much so that the T'Wolves reportedly are considering giving the Warriors their first-round pick (13th overall) in next week's draft.

That has forced the Warriors to rethink their stance on Thompson. They don't have a pick in the draft. The thought of adding one is enough to loosen their grip on Klay. If Minny is willing to hand over J.J. Berea as a backup point guard, the Warriors absolutely have to consider it.

[RELATED: Klay's father: 'I'm going to have to talk him down' if traded]

Should they do it?

Yes, if they're getting an immediate first-round pick in the deal -- even if it means losing a first-round pick in 2015.

Despite the recent championship work of the San Antonio Spurs, who proved an exquisitely operated system adds brilliance to everybody on the roster, the NBA is a league in which the best chance of winning is with stars -- All-Stars capable of finding their way into the Hall of Fame.

Klay Thompson? Maybe someday.

Kevin Love? Already on the path and should be on it for years to come.

 

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