For the past two decades, the Golden State Warriors anguished under circumstances that necessitated the constant urging of potential and hope. Things would almost assuredly get better, because how does this kind of depressive basketball fall any lower? It turned around and peaked with Baron Davis' "We Believe" team. But buttressing the two years of success (counting the 48-win season despite the lack of a playoff appearance) were the pungent smell of atrocity marked by the ineptitude of a front office unable to recognize or cultivate talent.
Fast forward to 2014, with a team coming off two straight postseason appearances, and it appears they are at the crossroads between a franchise looking to straddle the line between a young, talented, growing team and that of a win-now championship contender. These Joe Lacob-led Warriors are not the San Antonio Spurs. They can't rebuild a team while competing for the title every season. No one can. But the dilemma falls directly on the shoulders of whoever is in charge. Steve Kerr, Joe Lacob, Bob Myers, Jerry West, Stephen Curry, Mychal Thompson, so on and on and on and on**.
**Mychal Thompson is Klay' dad and has no say in this. It's just funny that he's the one "leaking" rumors left and right.
The team currently constructed won't win the title that Lacob so desperately craves, and promised. "If healthy" is not so much an excuse or footnote to the team's season but its perpetual downfall as long as its core players remain older and injury-prone.
And with Andre Iguodala and Andrew Bogut's contracts piling up the payroll, the team has to decide how much to pay Klay Thompson, if at all. The debate whether he deserves the max is a debate. While the Warriors, understandably, are unwilling to take back Kevin Martin's crappy play and monster contract, it's Kevin Love they're getting back.
There are people on both sides - one willing to concede that Love is a top-5/10 NBA player and pretty much any package will work as long as it excludes Curry. The other truly believes Thompson as that max player, arguing that his dual role on the team sets him up as the eight-figure player he'd likely become.
Keeping Thompson requires a leap of faith, assuming he'd develop even more that he did last year, combining the newfound driving ability with that of a playmaker and becoming a player as productive as the other Splash Brother. It allows this team to grow together, hope Harrison Barnes recaptures some semblance of confidence, allow us to enjoy Green's ascendence into a crazier Tony Allen, and keep their 2015 first round pick. It perhaps keeps the slight waft of air through that tight championship window open a tad longer.
Dealing Barnes/Green, Klay, and a first round pick for Love swings everything open. The team loses much of its depth, going towards the Miami Heat route, having to spend miniscule amounts of money on key bench players they can't afford. But it constitutes a core that revolves around an elite offensive and defensive combo. Curry and Love can probably get me and you an open shot on an NBA court. Iguodala and Bogut can, and has, cover defensive-deficient players like the former two. It's a dream match that reinforces the notion that the present is now. There's no time to hope for the continued ascendence of Thompson. Curry's contract is up in 2017 and this would resemble the most amount of talent anyone has ever seen in Warriors Land. The downside remains that injuries have sapped significant games out of every top four game. It's a gamble leaning on guys that rarely play 82-game seasons.
The decision assuredly comes down to much more than Klay Thompson and Kevin Love. The Warriors don't need to flip their core assets for Love the way they might/should have for Chris Paul and Kevin Garnett. There are financial obstacles to this that even a big-talker like Joe Lacob might steer away from.
Or maybe they'll just sign him as an unrestricted free agent and, well, forget everything I just wrote.