NBA legend and former Warriors front office executive Jerry West might not have had the final say on arguably the most important non-trade in Golden State franchise history, but he surely had an immense influence, and without it, there might not be a dynasty to speak of.
"It wasn't me," West said Friday on 95.7 The Game's "Damon, Ratto and Kolsky" podcast, "because I wasn't making trades up there. Obviously, I'm a big fan of Klay Thompson. I think there were certain people that were of a different opinion because Kevin Love was an attractive player to have because of his ability to spread the court, his rebounding, his passing -- he's a good player.
"But to me, the perfect player -- and he wasn't as far along in his career when this trade had been talked about -- the perfect player for Steph was Klay. He never seeks the spotlight. He just plays the game. And he has gotten better and better, and frankly, he's one of the most underrated players in the league who gets not as much love as he should get.
"... the decision was made not to trade him, and you've got the best basketball backcourt in the game today in those two. And also, an incredible complimentary player to Steph in his own right -- as good as Steph in another way, the totality of his game. He's getting better, too."
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Hindsight is 20/20, but looking back, there's no question the Warriors made the right decision in opting to hold on to Thompson. He has developed into one of the preeminent shooting guards in the league, with the ability to light up the scoreboard and clamp down on his defensive assignment.
Thompson holds the NBA records for the most points in a single quarter (37) and the most 3-pointers in a single game (14). He has been named an All-Star in the last five seasons in which he has appeared, and the fact that he has only been named to one All-Defensive team is an indictment on the voters.
When the Warriors next play in an NBA game, Thompson likely will have had at least 18 months to recuperate from the torn ACL he sustained in Game 6 of the 2019 NBA Finals. Curry also surely will be well-rested, and West believes the Splash Brothers will lead Golden State back to contention next season.
"So, Warriors fans have got a lot to look forward to," West added. "Two players who are getting in their prime. They've had some injuries. It should be a promising year next year for the Warriors, because if they get a player in the draft that they like who can give them something different than they have, they should be back in the running for an opportunity to be one of the best teams in the West again."
With a healthy star-studded backcourt, a top-five draft pick and multiple useful assets, Golden State has the tools to prove that this past season was an outlier. Thompson's presence surely will aid the Warriors in that effort, and it's scary to think of what it would have been like without him all these years.
Sometimes the best trades are the ones you don't make.