Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Warriors fans can dream again whether it's about Kevin Love or not

By Justin Taylor
Trapped in Golden State

Things are so different on the Bay Area basketball scene these days that it's easy to forget just how far we've come in just a few short years. Talent evaluators will always say that you can't truly judge a draft until the kids get at least three years under their belts and that's the approach I've taken with Joe Lacob's ownership group and management team.

The handling of Mark Jackson's departure left much to be desired but when you look at the body of work it's kind of like saying that Stephen Curry is no good because he makes a couple of careless turnovers per game. Nobody thought we'd be talking about Curry getting snubbed for First Team All NBA during his first three seasons just like nobody thought a Defensive First Teamer like Andre Igoudala would come play here at a discounted rate.

I'm of the mind that ownership and management will always be more important than the coach because talent wins games and there's only one Phil Jackson and one Gregg Popovich. The mandate for Bob Myers and his staff has been to land the big fish from the moment he was hired and after a few swings and misses the mission remains the same.

Just like the scarcity of coaches, there's only a few players in the league worth selling out for. Thankfully the early pursuits of Tyson Chandler and DeAndre Jordan didn't work out because now there is a chance to take a shot at Kevin Love. If there was any inclination that clearing the deck to get him would stop this group from spending money and improving the team at every turn I'd be against it but their short track record precedes them.

Had to give Love the Felton Spencer/Ralph Sampson number 50 cause people got so mad when I let him use Nate Thurmond's number 42 in last year's version that is all over the internet now. Hopefully I don't get nasty emails this time.

Five years ago my first reaction to hearing a star player say he wants to play for the Warriors would be that it’s total bullshit. It might sound something like, “The only reason a 25 year old superstar would mention Golden State as a potential destination would be to give him additional leverage in contract negotiations with another team.” The very next sentence thought would be, “Even if we broke the bank to get him he’d just walk away in 12 months and we’d be screwed for another 10 years.”

If he didn't see a real opportunity to win it all Steve Kerr wouldn't even have considered coming to Oakland and neither would Love. After decades of absentee, incompetent, cheapskate owners I've seen enough to place my completely tortured faith in their hands even if it means trading Klay Thompson and Draymond Green in a deal they deem worthy. (Funny that Draymond is ahead of Barnes on the list of guys I'd hate to see go list already isn't it?)

It’s no small thing to have an owner who is willing to put all his chips in the middle of the table for a shot at the biggest prize out there and then buy back in on the next hand after losing just to do it all over again and again; because don’t forget, Draymond Green is due for a massive raise since he was making pennies off of his 2nd round pick rookie contract that is set to expire.

For the first time since the seventies the Warriors are knocking on the door of true contender status but you can’t open it if you’re sitting on your hands. Going from 23 wins to 51 is a cakewalk compared to the struggle of getting to 60 wins and the Western Conference Finals. Standing pat and expecting incremental improvements each year is as dangerous of a game as taking a swing for the cheap seats is.

Firing a popular coach after a successful season or to trade your most exciting player takes balls but those stick out as examples of why we have a shot to take the next step. Between the press, fans and now social media there will always be someone trying to bury the franchise every time a corner is turned. Everybody wants to be the first to print the obituary but the rumors of the Warriors demise are ridiculous.

Thank god we have an owner that will put big money where his big mouth is.

Anatomy of a potential Kevin Love deal and the Klay Thompson balancing act

If Minnesota would accept Harrison Barnes, David Lee’s albatross of a contract and our super mediocre 2015 1st round draft pick  it would be a no brainer. Fans say, “MAKE IT HAPPEN LACOB!” as if that was a good offer at this point. The problem is that David Kahn is no longer running the Timberwolves and even he wasn't that dumb. 12 months ago Kahn was in power and Barnes value was higher than Klay Thompson’s (when I got raked over the coals for proposing the same deal everyone is clamoring for now) but those days are over. If “Klay” isn’t the first word out of Bob Myers mouth when he calls Flip Saunders it won’t even be a three second conversation.

Personally, I’m doing the deal if that’s the price. Love is already a star at 25, compliments Curry perfectly and would also create more space in the paint for Igoudala, Bogut and whichever slasher gets our Mid Level Exception. Those are things that no two guard in the league can do no matter how much we love Klay.

Right now the Wolves say they’re not trading Love before the season and that is actually a good thing for the Warriors who can’t trade our crappy 2015 pick till after the draft anyway. I’d probably beg them to accept my offer of Klay, Lee and the pick right now but Joe Lacob and Bob Myers are a lot smarter than me.

Instead of blowing their wad, they publicly state over and over that they won’t do it if Klay is involved and let other teams present their best and final offers. Then they go around telling everyone that will listen that the younger Splash Brother is well worth a max contract and they’re going to give it to him no questions asked. “Klay Thompson is a top five shooting guard in the NBA and he’s only getting better.”

Stop and ask yourself why anyone in their right mind would be trying to convince Klay, his agent and the rest of the league that he is the greatest thing since sliced bread one month before entering contract negotiations. The answer is a two fold bit of genius because it’s both trade posturing (letting them know he’s the best player available) and a preemptive strike against Thompson’s suitors when he becomes a Restricted Free Agent on July 1st.

This is a high stakes game of chicken because (1) you don’t want one of your most important players thinking you’re ready and willing to trade him and (2) you don’t really want to give him a max contract if you can help it.

Make no mistake, multiple teams want Klay and would be perfectly happy to pay him $12 million a year. The question is whether or not they want to make that offer and tie up their free agency salary cap space for almost a week (while every other two guard worth signing accepts offers from other teams) only to have the Warriors match it at the 11th hour. Would you be willing to risk being handcuffed like that just to be left with a ton of cash and only someone like J.R. Smith to offer it to? Didn’t think so.

With Bob Myers publicly taking the stance that they will be paying Klay there is only one reason another team would tender an offer. Some Western Conference team might want force the Warriors to pay the absolute top dollar to keep him and screw up a tightly managed salary structure.

The other big splashy name out there is Carmelo Anthony. The Warriors have been attached to those rumors too but I think it’s just more Kevin Love trade posturing. That’s Bob Myers saying, “Hey Minnesota, don’t like our offer? We can have Melo for way less so enjoy all the worthless draft picks you get from other teams.”

Signing Carmelo wouldn't be as painful as trading for Kevin Love but he isn't the same type of foundation piece.
Anthony is interesting in that he would be signed as a free agent so you wouldn’t have to give up much to get him. Theoretically Barnes, Thompson and Draymond Green could all remain in the fold with only Lee’s contract really having to go. Sam Esfandiari made the best case for that deal here.

None of this logic would occur to Chris Cohan or Robert Rowell. If the Love deal fell through they’d probably end up trading Klay for 50 cents on the dollar just so they didn’t have to pay him. After all, there is no need to break the bank when Curry would sell out the arena all by himself.

Lacob knows will get a ton of grief from fans and some media members if Klay Thompson is traded whether it's for a top 10 player or not. The fact that he's more interested in what Bob Myers and Jerry West think is the reason I'm going to back him one way or another.


1 comment:

  1. Hey Justin, fun times. I had some thoughts on Melo and Love, wrote a piece. I think you might enjoy it. I really needed to craft a reply to the Warriorsworld post that you cited in your article, and I am against Melo joining the Dubs.
    Hey good news! CSN just reported Alvin Gentry is the Dubs new Assoc Coach, signed a 3 year deal. Cool.
    my post:
    http://shawnkfrazier.com/?p=426

    ReplyDelete