As The Athletic's Ethan Strauss reported in his new book, "The Victory Machine," the Warriors nearly traded Steph Curry and Klay Thompson to the New Orleans Hornets in exchange for guard Chris Paul during the 2011 NBA offseason.
Obviously, the trade never went down, and based on what has occurred since, Golden State has to be quite glad it didn't.
But just for curiosity purposes, how might the Warriors' recent history be different in a hypothetical world where that trade had been accepted? Simply put, without the Splash Brothers, there's no Warriors dynasty.
Down the rabbit hole we go ...
Had the Warriors traded Curry and Thompson prior to the 2011-12 season, it's highly unlikely they would have proceeded to deal Monta Ellis and Ekpe Udoh to the Milwaukee Bucks for an injured Andrew Bogut in March 2012. According to Strauss, Paul had made it clear to the Warriors that he wouldn't re-sign with them following the 2011-12 season, so they would have been operating under that assumption, meaning keeping Ellis.
Had Paul and Ellis been paired together for all 66 games of the lockout-shortened 2011-12 season, they likely would have led Golden State to more than 23 victories. Had the Warriors won even one more game in 2011-12 than they actually did, they would have had to send their top-seven lottery-protected first-round draft pick to the Utah Jazz.
In reality, the Warriors finished with the same record as the Toronto Raptors, and ultimately required a winning coin flip to retain the first-round selection at No. 7 overall. That pick turned into Harrison Barnes.
But in this hypothetical scenario where the Warriors swap the Splash Brothers for Paul, they never get the chance to pick Barnes. In fact, they don't select again until drafting Festus Ezeli and Draymond Green at the No. 30 and No. 35 overall picks, respectively.
Without Barnes at No. 7, there's a good chance they don't have the luxury of selecting Green in the second round. So, the franchise-altering 2012 draft likely never would have come to pass.
If we assume Paul stayed true to his word, that would have meant he departed in free agency during the 2012 offseason. So, you're looking at a core of Ellis, Udoh and not much else.
That team definitely doesn't qualify for the playoffs in 2012-13. That means no first-round upset of the Denver Nuggets. That also likely means no Andre Iguodala trade the following offseason.
Golden State gave up a lot to acquire Iguodala, including its first-round picks in the 2013 and 2014 NBA Drafts. So, the Warriors likely wouldn't have had Iguodala, but they would have had those picks -- both of which likely would have ended up very high in the lottery.
In the 2013 draft, Victor Oladipo and Otto Porter were selected with the No. 2 and No. 3 overall picks, respectively, while C.J. McCollum went 10th and Giannis Antetokounmpo 13th. Not even the Bucks saw what was coming with the Greek Freak, and based on the information on the time, it's unlikely the Warriors would have picked him even higher than that. So, just for the heck of it, let's say Golden State ends up with Porter.
Again, the roster still would be pretty barren, so it wouldn't have been shocking whatsoever to see the Warriors re-sign Ellis heading into the 2013-14 season. Guess what? Ellis, Porter and whatever else probably isn't making the playoffs, either.
While that would have given Golden State another lottery pick in the 2014 NBA Draft -- Andrew Wiggins went No. 1 overall, while Joel Embiid and Bay Area native Aaron Gordon went third and fourth, respectively -- it also likely would have meant no Steve Kerr.
Kerr was pursued by the New York Knicks before agreeing to take over as the Warriors' coach in May 2014, and the offense that he installed allowed the team to reach heights like never before. Now, obviously, the Splash Brothers were essential to that. But in this hypothetical scenario, they're not on Golden State, and thus, the job isn't nearly as attractive for Kerr.
Without Kerr, there is no 73-9 season.
Without the 73-9 season, there is no Kevin Durant.
No Durant, plus no Kerr, Iguodala, Green, Barnes, Andrew Bogut, Curry and Thompson means no back-to-back titles, and certainly, no dynasty.
Sometimes the best moves are the ones you don't make.