Warriors

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.

Breaking down Pelicans vs Warriors Western Conference Semifinals

Breaking down Pelicans vs Warriors Western Conference Semifinals

SAN ANTONIO -- By eliminating the San Antonio Spurs on Tuesday, the No. 2 seed Warriors advanced to the Western Conference Semifinal round, where they will face New Orleans, with Game 1 set for Saturday at a time to be determined.

The No. 6 seed Pelicans advanced last Saturday with a four-game sweep of the third-seeded Portland Trail Blazers.

Here is a look at recent history as well as matchups -- as best we can determine, considering many will involve cross-matching -- between the Warriors and Pelicans:

POINT GUARD

Andre Iguodala vs. Rajon Rondo: It’s possible but not likely that Stephen Curry will be available for Game 1, which means Warriors coach Steve Kerr should stay with Andre Iguodala, whose defense and intellect were on display against the Spurs. Rondo clearly is the leader of the Pelicans and is playing at a very high level. He averaged 13.3 assists per game against Portland and scored well enough (11.3 ppg, 48.7 percent FG) to keep defenses honest.

EDGE: Even.

SHOOTING GUARD

Klay Thompson vs. Jrue Holiday: This matchup, featuring the best two-way guards in the league, should be highly entertaining. With the exception of Game 4, Thompson was fabulous against the Spurs, averaging 22.6 ppg on 52.9-percent shooting, including 51.6 percent beyond the arc. Holiday also was superb, averaging 27.8 ppg on 56.8-percent shooting while shutting down Trail Blazers star Damian Lillard. Thompson is four-time All-Star and Holiday, who hasn’t been an All-Star since 2013, is reminding everyone of his considerable skills.

EDGE: Even.

SMALL FORWARD

Kevin Durant vs. E’Twaun Moore: Durant is a consensus top-5 player and, at 6-foot-11, presents a matchup headache for any defender. He can also expect to at times match up with Pelicans star Anthony Davis. Durant led the Warriors in scoring against the Spurs (28.2 ppg, 48 percent FG but only 25 percent from deep) and will be target No. 1 for the New Orleans defense. Put another way, Moore, will spend less time on Durant than a couple of his teammates.

EDGE: Significant edge to Durant.

POWER FORWARD

Draymond Green vs. Nikola Mirotic: Another juicy matchup, featuring the splendid defensive gifts of Green against the brilliant shooting of Mirotic. Though Green also will get turns against absurdly good Pelicans center Anthony Davis, he is sure to see plenty of Mirotic, who against Portland averaged 19.3 ppg, shooting 46.2 from deep and 57.1 overall. In either case, Green, who at times single-handedly thwarted San Antonio’s offense, will have to spend more time playing on-ball defense.

EDGE: Slight edge to Green

CENTER

Entire Warriors army vs. Anthony Davis: The matchup description is not much of a stretch. Davis, who is every bit to matchup headache that Durant is. Davis’ 33 ppg in the first round leads all playoff scorers, is going to see no fewer than four different defenders -- Kevon Looney, JaVale McGee, Durant and Green -- over the course of this series. Anyone who defends the 6-10 star is going to need both skill and luck. On the other end, Davis will patrol the paint in an effort to protect the rim. He leads all playoff performers in blocks (2.8 bpg).

EDGE: Significant edge to Davis

SEASON SERIES

The Warriors and Pelicans met four times, with the Warriors winning three times:

Nov. 20 at New Orleans: Warriors 128, Pelicans 120 Nov. 25 at Oakland: Warriors 110, Pelicans 95 Dec. 4 at New Orleans: Warriors 125, Pelicans 115 April 7 at Oakland: Pelicans 126, Warriors 120

Draymond calmly claps back at Webber, 'my (championship) jewelry fit well'

Draymond calmly claps back at Webber, 'my (championship) jewelry fit well'

OAKLAND -- Draymond Green concedes he doesn’t generally look to score, that he’d rather set up his teammates to provide that for the Warriors.

So he was only mildly annoyed by comments made by TNT analyst Chris Webber during the telecast of Game 5 between the Warriors and Spurs on Tuesday night.

Webber said that if Green were on another team and was expected to score that “he may not be in the starting lineup.”

Naturally, Green was fully loaded for a ready response.

“I don't have a scorer's mentality, especially for the team that I play on,” Green began after a 99-91 victory. “If I did have a scorer's mentality, it would throw all this off and it wouldn't work out.

“You know, there are times in the game where I probably need to score more, but it's hard to turn a scorer's mentality on and off. I've had that once before in my life. You don't just click that on or off. Nonetheless, I do know when I need to be more aggressive and that helps my team out.”

Green was just warming up, saving his best stuff for punctuation.

“But I don't care,” he continued. “I've done some great things in this league. I've been to All-Star (games) twice averaging like 11 points, 10 points or something like that. Look, you know, I don't need to score.

“However, I don't think (Webber) can find many GMs are coaches that wouldn't say I wouldn't start on their team, and you know, my -- I'm fine without scoring the ball. I think I've created a new lane for guys in this league to where you don't have to score 20 points to be an All-Star or be a starter in this league and it is what it is.

“That's fine and my (championship) jewelry fit well. So I'm doing really pretty good. You know, much love to C-Webb, though, from Michigan, State of Michigan, you know, we good.”

There is good reason to believe there is at least a degree of friendly-unfriendly rivalry at work. Webber grew up in Detroit and attended the University of Michigan. Green grew up in Saginaw and, and 15 years later, attended Michigan State University.

For the record, Green averaged 11.4 points, a team-best 11.2 rebounds and a team-best 8.0 assists in the five-game series with San Antonio.

Green has earned two championship rings with the Warriors, who have reached three consecutive NBA Finals with him at power forward.

Webber spent his rookie season (1993-94) with the Warriors, and was named Rookie of the Year. Though the Warriors were swept by Phoenix in the first round that season, he eventually appeared in 80 playoff games -- 53 as a member of the Sacramento Kings -- but never reached the NBA Finals.