It can be easy to forget thanks to the last six or so years, but the Golden State Warriors were not always one of the league's best teams. In fact, for a long time, they struggled to even be relevant, much less a regular playoff team and championship contender.
The turn of the last decade is when things started to look up for the oft-maligned franchise. In 2011, they had Stephen Curry slowly coming into his own when he wasn't battling ankle injuries. They had just selected Klay Thompson to be his backcourt mate. But they almost blew it all up in pursuit of... Chris Paul?
In yet another fun NBA what-if, Ethan Strauss of The Athletic noted in his new book about the Warriors' dynasty that it came close to ending before it even got off the ground. GM Bob Myers called up Dell Demps and offered Curry and Thompson for Paul, who told them they could make the trade if they wanted to, but he wouldn't re-sign there. The full excerpt from 'The Victory Machine: The Rise and Fall of the Warriors Dynasty':
"In one prospective move that would have radically altered the NBA, the Warriors attempted to trade Steph Curry and Klay Thompson for Chris Paul in 2011. It was far from the only time Curry was shopped, but in this instance, the deal got fairly close to completion. Myers made the offer and Hornets GM Dell Demps was receptive. The catch was Chris Paul, who wanted out of New Orleans but had no intention of playing for the woebegone Warriors. Paul told the Warriors they could do this trade, but he wouldn't be staying when his contract was up at season's end. "- Ethan Strauss
The Warriors are now widely respected as one of the NBA's better franchises, and most players would be happy to play for Golden State, but times were different back then. The Warriors had made the playoffs exactly once in 13 years when this trade was discussed. They had won one playoff series in 15 years. Cream of the crop, they were not. Paul, meanwhile, was the league's most coveted trade asset and ended up with the Clippers after a trade to the Lakers was nixed.
But man, what could have been, huh? The Warriors would only have had Draymond Green as their core if everything else remained equal. The Pelicans, meanwhile, would have pulled off the heist of the century by landing the best backcourt in the NBA in return for a disgruntled franchise player. They probably wouldn't end up with Anthony Davis or Zion Williamson, but I'd bet many a Pelicans fan would trade all those years of frustration and the Davis trade saga for nearly a decade of Curry/Thompson.
Fortunately for Myers, Paul's desire to play for a winning franchise helped turn Golden State into one of the most dominant dynasties the sport has seen. Quite a turn of events. If you want to know more about Strauss' book, check out his appearance on the Press Pass Podcast last week.