The clock is ticking for the Golden State Warriors. Once LeBron James and Carmelo Anthony made their decisions, free agency fell like a stack of dominoes. But since then, things have died down a little bit and it doesn’t feel like there’s really a sense of urgency. But if the Dubs are serious about adding Kevin Love to the roster and pairing him in a superstar duo with Stephen Curry, they’ll act quickly.
Before this weekend, the Warriors had the most concrete and tempting offer for Kevin Love…if only they had actually been willing to offer it. Most trade talks between the Dubs and the Minnesota Timberwolves were either centered around Klay Thompson and David Lee in exchange for Love, or Thompson, Lee and Harrison Barnes for Love and Kevin Martin.
Wait, teams other than the Warriors are allowed to trade for Kevin Love? Unfair, and I wish I’d been informed earlier
— Ethan Strauss (@SherwoodStrauss) July 9, 2014
Here’s the problem: Thompson is included in both of those trade scenarios, and the Warriors aren’t convinced they need to include their sharpshooting guard in a deal, even when it’s in the pursuit of Kevin Love. The Dubs value Lee, who averaged 18.2 points and 9.3 rebounds per game in Golden State last season, and according to Tim Kawakami of the San Jose Mercury News, believe that by including him in the deal, they’re giving the Wolves plenty of value without having to add Thompson.
Minnesota isn’t so certain. Lee is an effective stat sheet-stuffer, but his problems on the defensive end have largely been masked by Andrew Bogut, one of the league’s best defensive centers. The Wolves don’t have a player like Bogut and a Lee-Nikola Pekovic frontcourt won’t be getting many stops in the paint. In order for a deal to go through, Lee has to be involved, however.
His $15 million contract needs to be off Golden State’s books for the trade to go through, with either Thompson or Barnes marking the second and final piece of a deal (unless Martin is included, that is, in which case the Dubs would have to include both Barnes and Thompson). Minnesota’s and Golden State’s differing opinion on Lee’s value means they disagree on whether Thompson or Barnes should be the other piece.
T-Wolves’ stance in recent trade talks is said to remain same: If Klay Thompson part of deal, Kevin Love will go to Warriors, not Cavs. — Sam Amico (@SamAmicoFSO) July 13, 2014
Barnes regressed last year in his second NBA season, clearly struggling to adjust to his new role coming off the bench with the arrival of Andre Iguodala. Averaging 9.5 points and 4.0 rebounds per game while shooting 40 percent from the field, Barnes really hurt his trade value and had he been able to build on his great 2013 NBA Playoffs run, he and Lee might have been able to cut it.
Now, the Wolves are adamant that Thompson be included in any potential Love trade, and rightfully so. Barnes is only 22 years old, far too early to declare his underwhelming year a sign of things to come, but Thompson is much closer to a sure thing and he’s a solid, young piece Minnesota could use to rebuild after Love’s impending departure.
Thompson averaged 18.4 points per game last season and shot 41 percent from three-point range as the complementary member of the Splash Brothers. But Thompson will never be an All-Star, and the Warriors are being foolish by not pulling the trigger on a deal here. Why? There’s the obvious reason that Love is a top 10 player in this league who would complement the Dubs’ offense perfectly as a stretch-4, but even worse, the Warriors don’t have the best offer on the table anymore.
When LeBron James decided to head home to the Cleveland Cavaliers, he changed the landscape of the East. Armed with the King, Kyrie Irving and No. 1 draft pick Andrew Wiggins, the Cavs have a solid core to build around. But talks between the Cavs and Wolves involving Kevin Love were inevitable. And although Cleveland currently has a similar situation going on in their reluctance to include Wiggins in a Love deal, the Cavaliers could offer Minnesota something far better now.
If Kevin Love does indeed go to Cleveland, the Warriors are going to have a lot of egg on their faces.
— Nate Duncan (@NateDuncanNBA) July 9, 2014
The Phoenix Suns and Boston Celtics are also looming large as potential Kevin Love destinations that could present superior offers to Golden State’s. By signing-and-trading for Isaiah Thomas, the Suns amassed the league’s best and deepest backcourt, but with Goran Dragic, Eric Bledsoe and Tyler Ennis already on board, Phoenix could offer something like Bledsoe (who would have to agree to the deal), one or both of the Morris twins and a multitude of picks to get the job done.
The Celtics have Jared Sullinger, Kelly Olynyk, the newly acquired Tyler Zeller and tons of draft picks to put a deal together. They also drafted Marcus Smart and James Young into their now-crowded backcourt, and those are two attractive prospects that could sweeten a deal (though the Celtics would be far more likely to move Young than Smart). Either way, the Cavaliers, Suns and Celtics all could put together better deals than the Warriors’ best offer.
That is exactly why the Warriors need to strike now while they’re still in the running. If they’re able to convince Minnesota they don’t go through a full rebuild, they have the most attractive pieces that will help the Wolves win now. You can never wait during free agency, and although Thompson is one of the league’s better shooting guards already, that’s not saying much about the state of the shooting guard position in today’s league and he’s certainly not worth missing out on Kevin Love.