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

Jul 19, 2014, 11:00 PM EDT

Los Angeles Lakers v Golden State Warriors Getty Images

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.

  1. muathjam21 - Jul 19, 2014 at 11:06 PM

    Klay Thompson is one of the best, young two-way SGs in the league, and is still 24 years old with plenty of room to grow.

    The notion that it’s a ‘no-brainer’ trade for the Warriors is simply untrue. Not only do they have to think about defense, but they also have to think about the chemistry that Curry and Thompson have built up and developed, and also have to think about how much of their bench would be sacrificed in the trade as well.

    I personally would do the trade, but it’s not an easy decision by any measure.

    • antistratfordian - Jul 19, 2014 at 11:20 PM

      Thompson isn’t good enough at age 24. He should be better. Love is only a year older and is 3x the player. It is a very easy decision.

      • smoothaswilkes - Jul 19, 2014 at 11:52 PM

        You’re right, it’s a a very easy decision. They should definitely hold on to Thompson.

        Kevin Love can’t guard the other team’s best guard. Who is going to pick up that slack for Curry if Thompson is traded?

        Besides Love isn’t going to vault the Warriors to the Finals because he won’t have any impact defensively and the offense he’d bring isn’t really needed since they have David Lee – Yes, I realize that Love is a million times better than Lee, it’s just they really won’t need Love’s offense and that’s all he brings.

        If the Warriors are going to take that next step they need to find somebody like Ibaka not Love. Defense wins championships. So it should be a pretty easy decision to keep Thompson and quite being leverage against Cleveland.

      • antistratfordian - Jul 20, 2014 at 1:09 AM

        Thompson’s defense does not make up the value difference between him and Love. He just isn’t that good.

        And what do you think a defensive rebound is? That’s how you end defensive possessions, by getting a rebound. If you don’t, you end up like Miami – watching your opponent get 2, 3, 4 more chances. Defensive rebounding is an important part of defense and Love does it as well as anybody. Maybe better than anybody.

        Thompson should’ve been gone a month ago. A person who won’t trade such a middling player for a Hall of Fame caliber talent is either an over-thinker or something worse.

      • apkyletexas - Jul 20, 2014 at 2:10 AM

        If Love was as good as his press, he would have taken the Twolves to the playoffs at least once in his first 6 seasons. Kevin Garnett had a similar lack of talent on the team, but he took Minnesota to the playoffs 8 straight years. Love is a good individual stat guy, but he’s done nothing to put himself into an eventual HOF discussion.

      • antistratfordian - Jul 20, 2014 at 2:29 AM

        Maybe or maybe not. If MJ was as good as his press he would’ve posted a winning season without Scottie Pippen – but that never happened.

        Love would be insanely great next to LeBron. He’s a perfect fit for James. That alone should be reason enough to make the trade.

      • apkyletexas - Jul 20, 2014 at 2:58 AM

        Look what happened to LeBron when Wade stopped playing defense. Got blown out in the finals. Defense matters. Is Love going to do enough on defense to win a title? Remember, MJ and Scottie were defensive freaks.

      • antistratfordian - Jul 20, 2014 at 3:17 PM

        Wade’s defense started to slip years ago. Ray Allen never played defense – 2 titles.

        Love’s defensive rebounding helps keep your defense off the field, to use football jargon. He does help on that end.

        Will Wiggins actually be a good defender in the NBA? Who knows. We’re already treating Wiggins like he’s Scottie Pippen when the chances of him actually becoming that are so small. I’d probably trade Scottie Pippen for Kevin Love anyway.

      • sportsfan18 - Jul 20, 2014 at 8:23 AM

        1st season in playoffs 96/97. Tom Gugliotta had a higher PER than KG did that season. Tom played more min’s that season than KG. Tom scored more than KG that season. Tom outrebounded KG that season.

        2nd season in playoffs 97/98 Stephon “Starbury” Marbury had a PER of 20.6 that season and KG had a PER of 20.8 Tom Gugliotta had the exact SAME PER as KG did that season. Hmm, 3 starters with a PER ALL OVER 20. Guess KG had some help. The big 3 on the Heat weren’t all over 20 as Bosh was below 20. Scoring oer 36 min’s on the team that yr, Tom G. 18.7 pts, KG 17.0 pts, Starbury 16.8 pts, Sam Mitchell 16.1 pts, Chris Carr 15.6 pts, Terry Porter 15.7 pts. Yep, looks like KG did ALL the heavy lifting.

        3rd season in playoffs 98/99 KG was the leader but he still had solid help of 3 to 4 others. KG’s win shares per 48 min’s was just .146 and Joe Smith’s was .126 meaning it wasn’t KG blowing all his teammates away. Terrell Brandon only played 712 min’s but his win shares per 48 min’s was higher than KG’s and his PER was over 20 too.

        4th season in playoffs 99/00 Terrell Brandon’s season PER was over 20 again, not far under KG’s. Wally Szczerbiak had very good TS%, much higher than KG’s. KG’s offensive rating on that team that season was 4th. Yeah, his defensive rating was the best but others weren’t far off, especially Joe Smith defensive rating of 102 to KG’s 99.

      • sportsfan18 - Jul 20, 2014 at 8:40 AM

        5th season in playoffs 00/01 Terrell Brandon again hit a season PER of 20. Three teammates of KG’s had a win share per 48 min’s of .125 or higher to KG”s .176. KG had the 3rd highest offensive rating on the team that season.

        6th season in playoffs 01/02 Were four other guys with a win share of .125 or higher and 2 of them were over .150 to KG’s .194. KG had the 5th highest offensive rating on the team that year.

        Kevin Love NEVER had two other teammates with a PER at 20 or higher with him the same season like KG did.

        KG’s 2nd season with the Wolves he was the ONLY player with a PER above 20 and he of course led the team in offensive efficiency. OH, the next HIGHEST win shares per 48 min’s to Kevin’s was only 0.90 to Love’s .138. KG had more help in yr 2 than Love did.

        KG usually had 2 to 4 players well above 1.00 win shares per 48 min’s and once had 4 teammates above .125 and 2 above .150 in the SAME season. Love’s 2nd season he had NO teammate even at 1.00 win shares per 48 min’s.

        Love season 3 Love win share per 48 min’s was .210. Next HIGHEST teammate was only 0.89. KG had MORE help than Love in year 3 than Love did.

        Love’s 4th season. Love had one teammate above 1.00 win shares per 48 min’s.

        Love’s 5th season. Broken had only played 18 games.

        Love’s 6th season. hey, 3 teammates above 1.00 but one was at .107 and the other at .117 not 4 above .125 with 2 above .150 like KG had with his best help. This was Love’s best help.

        NOW NOW NOW. KG is an all time great and has had a much better career than Love. I’m not saying Love is better than KG.

        I’m ONLY saying that KG had more help than our faulty minds remember.

        KG had MORE help than Love has had on the Wolves.

        STATS show us this.

      • wiltchamberlainthethird - Jul 20, 2014 at 10:17 AM

        @sportsfan: Dude….PLEASE shut the hell up about a PER. You clearly don’t/won’t/never have watched a game, but instead go around spewing stats from an ultra-flawed system as the end all be all. You really just gonna sit here & say Wally Szerbiak was better than KG because a system some ESPN nerd made up says so? Yea Terrell Brandon was cool, Joe Smith had his moments as did Szerbiak…..but compared to the Lakers, Spurs, Blazers, Mavs, Kings, Jazz of that era, KG was surrounded by a lacking roster. & the fact you’re tryna argue that shows your knowledge as a hoops fan. Actually go back & WATCH the game, it’s deeper than numbers my man.

      • jkfargo - Jul 20, 2014 at 1:55 PM

        People blaming Love for not making the playoffs is just silly. Every west playoff team has a lead guard that is better than any guard on Minnesota, in most cases way better. Tony Parker, Russ Westbrook, Steph Curry, James Harden, Chris Paul, Mike Conley, Damian Lillard and Monte Ellis were all better than Rubio. Rubio is a starting level point guard, but he is more Jay Cutler than Peyton Manning. He’s probably about the 10th best point guard in the west. It’s loaded with awesome guards and Love doesn’t play with any of them. On top of that, the Wolves bench was horrible last season. Make a list of the best guards in the west and see how long it takes to get to Rubio and Martin. It’s not so much a rip on those guys. It just shows how many good guards there are in the west. It’s the reason the Knicks were bad last year. They had the worst guard play in the NBA last season, but people still blame Melo for the Knicks missing the playoffs.

      • trevor123698 - Jul 20, 2014 at 3:31 PM

        kevin love is garbage. hes a major injury risk and I guarantee he gets hurt sometime within the next two seasons.

      • antistratfordian - Jul 20, 2014 at 4:00 PM

        Nah, Trev. Nah.

      • trevor123698 - Jul 20, 2014 at 4:26 PM

        its going to happen. klay is just a flat out better player

      • antistratfordian - Jul 20, 2014 at 8:06 PM

        Who? The guy who is already 24 and still hasn’t made an All-Star or All-NBA team? Will he ever make one? Not at this rate.

      • trevor123698 - Jul 20, 2014 at 9:12 PM

        will kevin love be done playing soon because of injury. at this rates its about a guarantee

      • antistratfordian - Jul 20, 2014 at 9:25 PM

        Klay Thompson is the kind of guy where it doesn’t matter if he plays at all – no one will remember him. Well, he’ll be remembered about as much as Todd Day.

        Love’s name is already in the history books.

      • trevor123698 - Jul 20, 2014 at 9:27 PM

        you are a moron. i traded kevin love for klay thompson and josh mcroberts and a 2nd round pick in my fantasy dynasty league with no hesitation. hes not going to last long. its a guarantee love gets hurt and misses significant time in any 1 season. DEAD ATHLETES DONT LIE. look it up

      • antistratfordian - Jul 21, 2014 at 1:10 AM

        He didn’t miss significant time last season – he played as many games as LeBron – so… there goes your guarantee.

        Love may or may not get injured. Thompson will always be average and unspectacular.

      • trevor123698 - Jul 21, 2014 at 1:14 AM

        yeah a 24 year old who puts up daggers in two straight playoffs. he does nothing. won’t grow as a player. isn’t an underrated defender. but chad fords average PER is the death kiss. say good bye to him. say hello to the stat stuffing no defense injured bum whose going to rape a team for around a hundred mill. good idea

      • antistratfordian - Aug 19, 2014 at 11:30 PM

        Chad Ford?

        You sound like your mad. It’s not my fault that 1) Klay Thompson is closer to being a bum than good and 2) The Dubs are insane because they’d rather keep a guy that no one will remember in 20 years vs a dude who will probably be in the hall of fame.

    • bkbell3 - Jul 19, 2014 at 11:54 PM

      Again, klay= 13.9per for his career and 14.4 last year- league average=15per. He shot 43% from the field and 40% from the 3. And just who was he locking down with his defense last year? AND he wants a max contract. With lee they had a top 10 defense last year and that’s with bogot being out alot. I would rather have barnes that klay.

    • 1friendofthepeople - Jul 20, 2014 at 8:19 AM


      In the Clippers-Warriors series he scared me as much as, and at times more than, Steph Curry.

      My one problem with Klay was that he picked up boneheaded fouls and then wouldn’t make adjustments so he ended up piling them up rather quickly.

      Great 2 guards don’t grow on trees. Surprisingly, Klay is already among the upper echelon of 2 guards thanks to his two way play. Its smart for GS to hold onto him. Anyone but Klay and Step are expendable imho.

      • vikes69 - Jul 20, 2014 at 2:01 PM

        please stop using PER as an argument, thanks! Keep Klay, build with what you have, stay healthy. You were in the WCF 2 years ago, dont break up this core.

  2. tigerpork - Jul 19, 2014 at 11:15 PM

    That’s fine keep your roster GS. But you are going to be disappointed again because you can’t beat the Clippers, OKC, Spurs, Blazers, and Rockets in the 1st round of playoffs. Bank on it.

    • Seth Hamlin - Jul 19, 2014 at 11:26 PM

      let’s not forget the dubs took the clippers to 7 games WITHOUT a center.

      this team is great and would have gone deeper if andrew bogut hadn’t gotten injured at the wrong time.

    • realfootballfan - Jul 20, 2014 at 12:43 AM

      Kevin Love isn’t going to change that. It might get worse regardless because of the coaching change, but his Charmin tissue defense definitely won’t help to get to that goal of beating any of those teams.

  3. nflcrimerankingscom - Jul 19, 2014 at 11:27 PM

    I’m trying to understand what exactly GS is offering to Minny that is of any real value? Late 1st round picks and David Lee???

    • casualcommenter - Jul 20, 2014 at 12:51 AM

      One First round pick plus David Lee plus Harrison Barnes

      That’s it. That’s why Minnesota wants Thompson.

      • nflcrimerankingscom - Jul 20, 2014 at 11:03 AM

        Right, and in any other situation, GS would have to give up a 1st round pick just to unload Lee’s contract.

        So basically they are offering up Harrison Barnes for Love.

        Meanwhile, other rumors are saying the Cavs give up 2 1st round picks, and two of their young talents. Rumors sound like BS.

  4. genericcommenter - Jul 19, 2014 at 11:30 PM

    Maybe if teams are willing to give up a whole bunch of talent and max money for a guy, they should expect him to place defense. Or is everyone like Kevin McHale and unable to ask their stars to play?

  5. j0esixpack - Jul 19, 2014 at 11:30 PM

    I’m as big a believer in Defense as anyone – but if the Cavs have both LeBron and Love, they don’t really need a defense

    • realfootballfan - Jul 20, 2014 at 12:47 AM

      Yep, that’s about the dumbest thing said here. That combination could out score the Spur juggernaut, OKC, or even the clippers. I think not. In the meantime, Kevin Love will be not playing defense while those teams are putting up 110 every night on the Cavs because LeBron can’t guard everyone. He had other athletic players who know the defensive system inside out in Miami and tried to do it, and they got run off the court, so how do you think that’d go in this scenario you’re presenting? Badly, very badly.

    • savvybynature - Jul 20, 2014 at 2:12 AM

      You can score effectively with just one guy, if that one guy is a Lebron James-like talent, but it takes 5 guys to defend a well-orchestrated and talented offense like the Spurs.
      That comment was pretty stupid.

  6. 88heatnation - Jul 19, 2014 at 11:35 PM

    All GSW needs is better role players and Bogut to stay healthy. Love would help but another Star is not needed.

    • vikes69 - Jul 20, 2014 at 2:05 PM

      Agreed 100%, stay healthy, 2 years removed from WCF. Livingston will be a great addition for that team, they are contenders

  7. campcouch - Jul 20, 2014 at 12:12 AM

    It is quite possible that Love’s defense improves if he’s not forced to exert so much offensively. He’s not a feed the post player clogging up the lane, we see his game is more dynamic. Spending your time scoring and crashing boards just to keep your team involved in a game takes a lot. Sharing that scoring load may allow him to allot a little more to the defensive end.

  8. shadowgamesshades - Jul 20, 2014 at 12:41 AM

    Kevin Love is overrated. All he does is pad his stats on a mediocre Wolves team and miss the playoffs. He disappears in the 4th quarter of games. His defense is downright atrocious. He’s basically what David Lee was except with the ability to shoot threes. Love is nothing special.

    • realfootballfan - Jul 20, 2014 at 12:52 AM

      Yep, at least somebody watches the games instead of recite geek numbers. If you don’t play defense, you go down a notch in my book. It’s been what’s been holding back Carmelo his whole career, and these same people praising Kevin Love would kill Carmelo for the same thing. At least Carmelo’s taken teams to the playoffs and is elite at one thing, scoring. This guy isn’t elite at anything but grabbing garbage stats to make the stat nerds happy when they make their arguments but have no answer for why he’s never led a team near the playoffs.

      • jkfargo - Jul 20, 2014 at 1:09 PM

        Kevin Love hasn’t taken his team to the playoffs because the roster was a disaster his 1st 3 seasons. Do you blame Love when he was starting next to Michael Beasley, Darko and Johnny Flynn? None of those players are even in the league anymore besides Beasley and his time might come to an end soon. Seriously, look at those crappy rosters his 1st 3 seasons, it was just awful. In his 4th season, the Wolves were fighting for the 8th seed until Rubio tore his ACL. The Wolves simply didn’t have the talent to withstand the injuries. Their guards/wings were Wes Johnson, Luke Ridnour, Wayne Ellington, Martell Webster and JJ Barea besides Rubio. That is pretty much role player central. Name a west playoff team in recent history with that poor of wing players and guards. None of those players have been starting level players in their careers. In Love’s 5th season, he missed almost the whole year so it’s hard to blame him for not making the playoffs when he basically didn’t play. The Wolves also lost over 20 games due to injury with Rubio, Pekovic and AK47 that year. Last year, the west was simply brutal and the Wolves lost to many close games. The Wolves actually had the highest point differential to miss the playoffs since the NBA/ABA merger. They had the 10th highest point differential in the league last season. Who are the best teammates he’s played with in Minnesota? If you look at last season’s west playoff teams, you will see that every team’s 2nd best player was better than anyone on the Wolves. Look at the 2nd best players on those teams. Blake Griffin, Mike Conley/Z-Bo, Lillard, Harden, Tony Parker, Klay Thompson/AI, Westbrook, Monte Ellis were all way better than anyone Love had. Pek was a beast, but missed almost 30 games. Even then, he isn’t really better than any team’s 2nd and even 3rd best players.

  9. skoivu10 - Jul 20, 2014 at 12:50 AM

    If this report is true, then Minnesota should have just taken Wiggins when they had the chance. Now I can see Trist thompson, and a first at best. Although Bennett behind Love wouldn’t be that bad. Well I mean it would seeing how he was wrongfully the first pick, but in the grand scheme of things, it might benefit Cleveland.

  10. tv63 - Jul 20, 2014 at 1:05 AM

    Blah Blah Reporters don’t know what is going on. Basically GSW is out of the trade talks not just because they want to keep Thompson (because they should btw) but giving up David Lee, Barnes and second round picks and only get a 1 year rental in Love. Love has come out publically he would only sign an extension with Cavs if they got Lebron and they did.

    Cavs are in the driver’s seat and can wait for a better deal from Minnesota without giving up 3 players and next year picks. It makes sense for both of these teams to play the waiting game and see what deals Minnesota will realistically take, Afterall it is Minnesota with the ticking clock on Love.

  11. saint1997 - Jul 20, 2014 at 1:16 AM

    Something makes me think there is more to this whole Love business than is being released here. There’s no way teams should theoretically hesitate on a 26 and 13 guy like this, there must be something about Love we aren’t hearing here

  12. npr772013 - Jul 20, 2014 at 2:47 AM

    I would not trade Klay Thompson or Andrew Wiggins in a deal for Kevin Love. KL can’t play defense and has not been a dominating player taking his team to the playoffs so…no defense and no playoffs? No deal. Klay Thompson can shoot 3s and is part of one of the greatest scoring backcourts in the NBA and Wiggins is just a rookie but even though he is not a superstar now and won’t be for a couple of years he can score, steal and block shots as seen in the Summer League…
    K Love? padded stats cause there is no other option on that team. I say let K Love stay in Minnesota and either get traded before the deadline or become a free agent in 2015. He is no Kevin Garnett.

    • bkbell3 - Jul 20, 2014 at 4:51 AM

      This greatest scoring backcourt must be comming from curry’s side because klay shoots 43% and 40% from the three 13.9 career per one trick pony. And why are loves stats empty on a bad team but KG stats on a bad team were for real and he had to team with 2 other hall of famers to get only one chip? And wiggins shot 40% in summer league where there are summer league heroes every year that are never heard from again. And playoffs are about how good your team is and being healthy. Has dirk made the playoffs every year? What did kg win before boston. And klay’s stats, such as they are are a direct benifit of curry and lee and other commanding double teams so he can stand in the corner and shoot wide open shots. He can’t create for himself very well yet. And GS had a top 10 defense last year with lee who is comparable to love on defense. wow their is just nothing you said that makes any sense and isn’t just talking points from media talking heads.

    • jkfargo - Jul 20, 2014 at 2:18 PM

      If it’s easy to pad stats on a team with no other option (Pekovic and Martin were both top 30 scorers by PPG), why didn’t Orlando, Philly, Boston, Milwaukee, Utah, LAL, Detroit, etc. have any scorers that even got 20 a game? None of those teams had a 20 PPG and the only guy on those teams to get 10+ RPG was Andre Drummond. Kevin Love made the 8th most 3’s in the NBA. The only other PF/C within 50 3’s of Love was Channing Frye. Love also made the 3rd most free throws. He was 3rd in total rebounds and he led all PF’s in assists. He also was one of only 3 players with over 50 double doubles. He led the NBA with 65. There has never been a player who could put up those stats in the history of the NBA. If a guy can shoot and get to the line at elite levels, he can score on any team.

  13. kamauthabiti - Jul 20, 2014 at 3:26 AM

    Love’s man runs all over the place as love stands under the basket to build rebound stats.

  14. timb12 - Jul 20, 2014 at 4:01 AM

    Is anyone worried Love will turn into a Bosh type stretch 4 if he plays for the Cavs? Bosh gets killed for being soft, not rebounding, and taking too many 3’s. I don’t know if it’d fully happen to Love, but it would end up being a similar fit.

  15. inthearex - Jul 20, 2014 at 8:51 AM

    The writers on this website fawn over Love. I get that he brings a unique skill set to the table at his size. But at no point when I watch a game that he’s in, do I feel like he’s a presence or a “game changer” on the floor. He’s a stat guy. Much like Melo just being a stat guy.

  16. erking1991 - Jul 20, 2014 at 1:07 PM

    Idk who’s more overrated, GS or LAC. By far the two most overrated teams in the league. The only teams that have a real shot in the west are OKC, SAS, and maybe POR.

  17. seasickcecil - Jul 20, 2014 at 1:47 PM

    I’m not sure making this trade would put GS up there with the big boys in the west especially with what they would be giving up.

  18. pondersucks07 - Jul 21, 2014 at 3:22 PM

    they are not saying Love cant play defense, They are saying Curry cant play defense, And Thompson helping out Curry and if they lose Thompson, They are also saying their back up guards cant play 2 way basketball

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