Throughout the summer, both sides worked feverishly to agree on a deal to send Kevin Love to Golden State until the new coach and the inspiration for the NBA’s logo became involved.
Three months after being hired, Steve Kerr pleaded with team ownership to pull Klay Thompson from any deal with the Timberwolves, believing the Warriors boasted the most potent back court combination in the league.
Once trade talks between Golden State and the Timberwovles broke down, Cleveland managed to pry Love away with a deal involving Anthony Bennett and Andrew Wiggins, the two players selected first overall in each of the past two NBA Drafts.
Despite an inconsistent season from Love, as he struggled with the adjustment from playing for a championship contender instead of a team bound for the draft lottery, Thompson thrived in Golden State.
Since the trade talks broke down, Thompson helped lead Team USA to a gold medal at the 2014 World Cup of Basketball, signed a four-year $70 million extension with the Warriors and earned his first All-Star selection as he averaged 21.7 points, 3.2 rebounds, 2.9 assists, 1.1 steals and shot 43.9 percent from 3-point range.
Billy Duffy, Thompson’s agent, helped land the maximum contract extension by declaring that he was the best two-way, two-guard in the league. Meaning he was the most competent shooting guard at both ends of the floor.
Under Kerr, Thompson was no longer required to defend the opponents best perimeter player, as he often spent a majority of his time defending point guards.
Instead, he provided a perfect compliment alongside the most valuable player in the league, as teammate Stephen Curry made more than the 238 shots Thompson converted from beyond the arc this season.
As Thompson made and attempted career-highs from downtown, he was able to maintain his shooting potency, as he made 43.9 percent of his attempts, a figure only surpassed by four other players in the league.
His precision from 3-point range hasn’t waned since the start of the post season, as he is making 42.5 percent of his attempts. Twice he has exploded for six shots from 3-point range in the post season.
The ability of the 25-year-old guard to erupt into an unstoppable scorer was the primary reason for Kerr and West to eliminate him from the deal with Minnesota.
Sacramento found out firsthand just how devastating Thompson can be when his shot starts to drop.
When he has it going, NBA records fall.
During a game in late January, it took him less than 33 minutes to pour in a career-high 52 points, as his range was seemingly unlimited on the night. Thompson connected on 11-of-15 attempts from 3-point range, seven more than the Kings managed as a team on the evening.
As the Warriors were closing out Houston in Game 5 of the Western Conference finals, Thompson was playing his best game of the series, scoring 20 points on 8-of-14 shooting from the field, with four makes from 3-point range on the night, along with four assists in just over 22 minutes.
Thompson faked another long range shot, forcing Trevor Ariza into the air to try and defend the shot. While dropping his arms, Thompson lowered his head, providing Ariza an opportunity to collide into the side of his head with his knee.
The impact sent Thompson down to the ground immediately, and after he returned to the court following examination from team doctors, blood was visibly running down his ear.
The extended break between the end of the conference finals and the start of the 2015 NBA Finals worked to Thompson’s benefit, as he was able to complete the NBA’s concussion protocol program and has been cleared to play in the series opener Thursday night.
On the other side of the court, Love will be watching from the bench, as his first career post season run was ended after Kelly Olynyk ripped his shoulder out of the socket.
The two could have been dealt for each other last summer, but will now battle for the Larry O’Brien trophy.
Standing still on the trade proved to best possible outcome for Golden State.