Editor's note: The above video is from June 20, 2014.
OAKLAND – The debate in the Warriors front office was, in the beginning, very real. CEO Joe Lacob was on one side, executive board member Jerry West and new coach Steve Kerr on the other. In between was general manager Bob Myers.
The discussion, according to several sources, came down to this: We like Kevin Love, but do we like him enough to part with Klay Thompson?
Lacob was intrigued by the idea of adding a second All-Star alongside Stephen Curry. Myers was open-minded. Kerr lobbied against it. West summarily rejected it.
After weighing the pros and cons – and closely analyzing video of Love – the Warriors decided, unanimously, to stand pat. There would be no trade for the power forward as long as the Timberwolves requested Thompson. Period.
It was the right decision.
Love eventually went to the Cavaliers, joining forces with the newly signed LeBron James to theoretically create a powerhouse in Cleveland. The Warriors will get a good look at Love when the Cavs visit Oracle Arena on Friday.
They have no regrets. Zero.
"I really like the team we have, the way it is," Kerr told me recently.
"I knew when I got to this team that it was a 51-win team a year ago," the coach said Thursday. "The talent was apparent. The group that they put together over the last few years is really impressive. Continuity in this league is really important. And I love the internal growth that I'd seen from the Warriors the last couple years before I got here."
Everyone in the building sees it now. They see it with the splendid symmetry with which the team operates, with the Warriors leading the NBA in shooting accuracy and defensive effectiveness. The Warriors own a league-best 28-5 record, the best start in franchise history.
This season almost certainly would not be going so incredibly well had their desire for Love trumped their faith in Thompson, whose ongoing progress has been a key component to what has been a fantastic first 10 weeks.
"I don't know where we'd be if we had made that move," said one team source, "but I doubt we'd be better."
It's not that the Warriors were turned off by Love. They all liked the idea of making a deal to acquire him. But the Timberwolves insisted upon getting Thompson. Very little changed even as the teams continued to stay in contact. The Warriors did not change their minds.
Lacob, according to a second source, placed his trust in West and Kerr. The CEO was reluctant to ignore the wishes of a coach he'd hired only weeks earlier, in the wake of his controversial dismissal of former coach Mark Jackson.
"That would not have gone over well at all," said a league source. "I don't know what Steve would have done, but he would not have been happy at all. He might have thought he'd made a mistake."
Myers also concluded that the addition of Love would not offset the subtraction of Thompson. Lacob was persuaded and, after studying basketball and considering team chemistry, it was not particularly difficult.
Yet the speculation didn't die until Love went to Cleveland as part of a multi-team deal.
After an offseason of uncertainty, Thompson has settled in and become an All-Star caliber player. He never wanted to leave, and reaching agreement on a four-year extension worth $69 million in October means he's contractually bound to the Warriors through 2018-19.
And Love is a member of the Cavaliers, with James and All-Star point guard Kyrie Irving. They are the nucleus of a team that, under rookie coach David Blatt, was expected to take the Eastern Conference by storm.
The Cavaliers have instead struggled. They are 19-17, currently fifth in the conference playoff race. James has missed the past week and will not play Friday night. Blatt is under fire. The elation of July has become the disappointment of January.
That's Cleveland. Here in the Bay Area, the Warriors are delighted with the way the team is playing and that Thompson is such an important figure in it all.