Kevin Love Klay Thompson
Kevin Love and Klay Thompson, pictured at Quicken Loans Arena on Dec. 25, 2016 in Cleveland, were nearly traded for each other. Now, they are facing off in the 2017 NBA Finals between the Cleveland Cavaliers and Golden State Warriors. Getty Images

Kevin Love and Klay Thompson are squaring off in the 2017 NBA Finals, but the two All-Stars were nearly traded for one another not too long ago. The three-year rivalry between the Golden State Warriors and Cleveland Cavaliers that’s dominated the league might have never occurred if the proposed deal went down in the summer of 2014.

With the Minnesota Timberwolves shopping Love three summers ago, the team had discussions with Golden State about trading the power forward for Klay Thompson, David Lee and a future first-round pick. Members of the Warriors’ front office wanted to do the deal, but head coach Steve Kerr and consultant Jerry West reportedly opposed the transaction.

READ: Kevin Love Trade Rumors Will Continue If Cavs Can't Beat Warriors

After Golden State decided not to pull the trigger, Cleveland sent Andrew Wiggins and former No.1 overall pick Andrew Bennett to Minnesota for Love in a three-way trade that also included the Philadelphia 76ers. The deal happened less than seven weeks after LeBron James left the Miami Heat to re-sign with the Cavs.

It’s impossible to know what would have happened if the Warriors acquired Love instead of the Cavs, but Golden State has to be thrilled that the deal was never made, considering the success they’ve had over the last three years.

All the Warriors have done since deciding against swapping Thompson for Love is win the most regular season games in a three-year stretch in NBA history. The team came one victory shy of winning their second straight title a year ago, and they appear to be on their way to defeating the Cavs in the finals for the second time since 2015.

Thompson has been integral in the team’s success. As one half of the Splash Brothers alongside Stephen Curry, he’s given Golden State the NBA’s best backcourt. He’s made the All-Star team in each of the last three seasons and was named to the All-NBA third team in both 2015 and 2016.

With his abilities as an elite defender and one of the best shooters the NBA has ever seen, Thompson has been a perfect fit for Golden State. It’s hard to believe they could have won 73 games in 2016 without his production, and he was arguably the No.1 reason the Warriors got past the Oklahoma City Thunder in last year’s Western Conference Finals.

Thompson hit 11 three-pointers and scored 41 points in Golden State’s Game 6 comeback of that series, helping the Warriors avoid a major upset. Since Kevin Durant wouldn’t have signed with Golden State last summer if Oklahoma City had reached the NBA Finals, Thompson played a significant role in one of the biggest acquisitions in NBA history.

By the same token, Cleveland might not have won a championship had they not traded for Love. Wiggins has been a good player in his first few years with Minnesota, though he’s just 22 years old and has never made an All-Star team.

LeBron James seems to find his way to the NBA Finals no matter who is on his team, and he helped the Cavs cruise through the Eastern Conference in 2015 when Love missed most of the playoffs with an injury. Love has been involved in various trade rumors throughout his time with Cleveland, and that will likely persist if the Cavs can’t come back and win the 2017 NBA Finals.