It might be the first time in NBA history a 19-year-old Canadian has ever scorched the rumor mill without playing his first regular season minutes. Whether or not trade talks for Kevin Love are hot for the Cleveland Cavaliers and now cold for the Golden State Warriors, one thing’s for sure…the Warriors remain the best trade partner for the Minnesota Timberwolves in the Love sweepstakes.
The length of this Love triangle between the Cavs, Dubs and T-Wolves has become chronologically exhausting. It’s not as bad as say… LeBron James, the Decision Part Deux, but with talks of trading Love moving into the upcoming season – most want to see speedy resolution.
No other team wants to see a speedier resolve than the Warriors.
After the Cavaliers got over their reluctance to include No. 1 overall pick Andrew Wiggins in a trade for Love, the Warriors were left saying, “Hey, what about us?” Almost one month ago, the Warriors floated a trade of Klay Thompson, David Lee and a few other moving parts to the Timberwolves for Love. In the days since, there hasn’t been any sign of Love’s arrival in Oakland, and Thompson has been removed from the trading block according to league sources.
Nothing’s ever finite and done until the league places its stamp on a transaction and approves, so let’s assume that since the Warriors and Timberwolves are still in negotiation, there’s a slight chance Thompson can be moved. Since Lee packaged with Harrison Barnes and Draymond Green doesn’t seem to be enough, it’s fair to assume the Warriors are at the height of reluctance in dealing Thompson, but are leaving the window open for a change of heart. In this league, even the most lifeless of deals are never dead.
I’m sure that irritates and perplexes Warriors head coach Steve Kerr, owner Joe Lacob and general manager Bob Myers. On one hand the Warriors front office separated themselves from an opinionated head coach that changed their culture and win total. He was quickly replaced by a rookie head coach who immediately balked at the idea of losing Thompson and designated him untouchable, barely weeks after Lacob and Myers were willing to offer him to Minny. Irony at its best.
What’s equally tragic is that when the Warriors became ready to pony up and part ways with their stellar shooting-guard (Thompson), the Cavs stepped in and offered a deal that claimed more of Minnesota’s attention. Pandemonium, in the time of year that’s usually a circus anyway.
In the center of it all is Andrew Wiggins. While the package of Wiggins, last year’s first-overall pick Anthony Bennett and an unnamed salary filler has been offered for Love, it’s necessary to examine not only if it’s a worthwhile deal for the T-Wolves, but a better one.
Right now it’s not a better deal and if Flip Saunders can’t see that – the Timberwolves can expect to tally their 10th straight season played under .500.
It’s near impossible to compare Lee and Bennett in addition to Thompson and Wiggins. There’s 12 years of experience between Thompson (three) and Lee (nine) combined, compared to Wiggins and Bennett who have one season of hardwood experience shared.
Comparing the least significant parts of the trade first, Lee obviously trumps Bennett. Devoid youth and his one year of experience, Bennett’s rookie year was atrocious. He’s down about 15 lbs, but his 1.1 PER is the lowest from a rookie in the last 24 years in the NBA – enough said. You can try to make a case for Bennett’s play in this year’s NBA Summer League, but then again – it’s Summer League. Moving on.
David Lee doesn’t blow your socks off or raise eyebrows either. When his health is not a detriment to the Warriors, he contributes his 15 points and 10 rebounds career average and most nights is pretty capable in the post. His defense is lackluster and perimeter shot inconsistent, but his marginal performance further proves he’s better trade bait than Bennett. Although Bennett’s a former first-overall pick, who knows whether he can average the same numbers Lee’s put up throughout his career.
Yes, Andrew Wiggins is an athletic freak – but that’s about it at the moment. His ball-handling skills and outside shot are very suspect. He’ll be a great player in the league, however the level of greatness he will achieve is in question. It’s fair to say that the hype surrounding Wiggins possibly being the next LeBron James or Kobe Bryant has died down.
Minus the vertical, Klay Thompson does everything Andrew Wiggins will need to do in the NBA. He also does these things at a very high rate. He poured in a career high 1488 points last season while 44 percent of his field goals and 42 percent of three balls thrown up. Last season Thompson was one of three players who hit over 40 percent of three point attempts (Thompson, Stephen Curry, Gerald Green).
When comparing the two, it’s easy to debate Wiggins’ promise versus Thompson’s proven abilities. However it’s important to remember that Thompson just finished his third season with the Warriors. He’s only 24 years old and has some “promise” left in the tank as well. He showed an ability to be a quick defender in last year’s post season, as he gave Los Angeles Clippers point guard Chris Paul fits. In fact, Thompson has become a bit underrated as a wing and post defender where he held point guard, forward and power forward opposition to PERs of 8.3, 10.5 and 12.2 respectively.
As it stands, the Timberwolves are faced with a tough decision. They’re in no rush, but once they decide to part ways with Love they’ll probably be dealing with only one of two teams. Take the trade offer that’s headlined with first overall picks and is a momentary ticket draw, or be basketball smart and select the one that advances your team further now and possibly in the long run. With no word on when there will be any decision from Minnesota, both Cleveland and Golden State will have the opportunity to fine tune their packages. However, should the Warriors offer Thompson and cast to Minnesota they’ll have an edge in this competition that hopefully won’t be ignored.