By Justin Taylor
Earlier this week I asked Warriors fans, if presented with a shot at a superstar, whether they would prefer to trade Harrison Barnes or Klay Thompson? On one hand I got exactly what I expected, a great deal of hate mail accusing me of “trying to break up a potential championship contender.” My stance is that if Joe Lacob has instructed Bob Myers to look for that swing-for-the-fences move then so should I.
I understand the want and the need to see this young team reach its apex together but there are a maximum of ten superstars in this league. When you get your pitch you better swing at it, end of story. Today I’m following up on that hypothetical questionnaire with a very real hypothetical trade proposal. I’m taking my cuts, backlash be damned.
Right now I’m submitting a fake proposal to an imaginary league office that will send the Warriors' David Lee and Harrison Barnes along with a purchased 2013 first round draft pick to the Minnesota Timberwolves for Kevin Love and Alexy Shved. If David Kahn were still the Wolves GM I’d tack on Derrick Williams but I’m pretty sure Flip Saunders is a smarter than him and the league might veto that version. I also want to keep this fake trade as realistic as possible.
Golden State fans hate the thought of dealing Barnes because we’ve been down this road before. Team drafts good player; team develops good player; team hits its stride with good player; team trades good player for unproven rookie. The difference here is that we’re not looking at Billy Owens or Brandan Wright and Nellie isn’t the one pulling the trigger. We’re talking about the best power forward in the league and he hasn’t even hit his prime yet.
(Quick Question: Would Lebron James consider signing with a team with the best shooting backcourt in the NBA, the best rebounding and passing power forward in the league and a legit seven foot defensive center in 2014? It would easily be the best, most well rounded squad he’s ever played on and that might include Team USA!)
Fans won't care if David Lee is traded but Harrison Barnes is different
Why the Warriors do it:
Kevin Love is a bona fide star that averaged 20 points and 15 boards as a 21 year old, 26/13 as a 22 year old and he is still only 24. He also happens to be a better shooter, low post scorer, rebounder, passer and defender than David Lee. On top of all that, they will be making damn near the same amount of money in the 2015-16 season when Lee is 33 and Love is just hitting his prime at 28.
The Warriors salary cap situation in 2014 remains unchanged. Do you know how many free agents would kill for the chance to play with Kevin Love and Steph Curry? Throw Klay Thompson into the mix and no team in NBA will be spacing the floor like the Warriors. Just imagine you are a slashing small forward for a second; I'll use Lebron James as a random example. What three running mates in the league are going to open the middle of the floor and keep defenses honest night in night out like these guys? That fact that Curry and Love are both extremely good, ridiculously unselfish passers would just be icing on the cake.
Steph Curry, Klay Thompson, Brandon Rush, Kevin Love would make up the best 3 point shooting starting lineup in the history of the NBA. I don’t even need to research that statement, call my bluff.
A front line of Andrew Bogut and Kevin Love would be the best passing and one of the best rebounding frontcourts in the entire NBA.
The team defense would improve because Love is a better defensive rebounder than David Lee and is a less terrible defender. Brandon Rush is also a better defender than Harrison Barnes but that is besides the point. Lee is a hard worker and is good at getting boards but Love is the best rebounder in the NBA. Again, he’s only 24.
Alexy Shved as a throw in just might have a shot as the long term back up point guard for the Warriors whether Jarrett Jack resigns or they bring in another option in free agency.
Last but certainly least; I could make a super cheesy I LOVE CURRY © design the minute the deal gets league approval.
You've got to risk something if you want one of the best players in the league
Why the Timberwolves do it:
First and foremost, nobody around the league thinks Kevin Love will resign in Minnesota when his current deal expires so they better do something before they get a bunch of lowball offers.
No trade proposal that they get for Love will give them a two time All Star and a potentially perennial All Star.
If the trade doesn’t happen before the draft then the Warriors would be able to offer a pick in next seasons “loaded” draft as opposed to this year’s terrible draft.
Pairing Barnes with Ricky Rubio will put them on the SportsCenter Top 10 a few times a week even if it doesn’t put them in the playoffs.
No matter which way you slice it Minnesota fans wouldn’t be happy (I don’t think) but they would have one of the more entertaining teams in the league and their main guys would all be under contract for the foreseeable future. That is saying something for a small market team like them.
Who says no:
Even though it would be tough for the Twolves to find a better offer anywhere around the league I do think they would be the ones to turn this deal down.
How could the Warriors say no to adding the top power forward in the league while still maintaining their ability to make a splash in the 2014 free agent pool? There are some injury concerns but I’m way less worried about Kevin Love’s hand than I am about the ankles of Steph Curry and Andrew Bogut. Did I mention he’s still only 24?
Get on the phone Bob!