How Are the Warriors Chances In the Kevin Love Sweepstakes?
Perhaps you’ve heard: Kevin Love has all but requested a trade from the Minnesota Timberwolves, and fans from every team in the league are imagining K-Love running two-man pick-n-pop plays with their point guard. The good news for Warriors fans is that Love specifically mentioned the Dubs as a possible landing destination (along with the Bulls), which gives fans even more reason to be optimistic. But is Love throwing outlet passes to Iggy and Klay next season an actual possibility, or a pipe dream?
Let us first vet the other Love suitors with two criteria they must pass before a Love trade is possible: 1) Are their assets enticing enough for the T-Wolves front office to budge? 2) Is the team itself a desirable enough landing spot for Love, who will likely need to sign an extension before any team is willing to trade away valuable players and/or draft picks?
Orlando Magic: (Possible Trade: #3 overall pick, J. Nelson, and A. Afflalo for Love)
Magic GM Rob Hennigan’s sales pitch to Love: We’ve got a crap ton of cap room (no one else will be making more than $5 mill a year), and we’re going to surround you with Victor Oladipo, Nicola Vucevic, and Tobias Harris. With you joining our squad and our cap space, we can probably lure another star player (think Melo or Kyle Lowry, and if not them then we’ll wait until next year to make a push at Rajon Rondo, Kyrie Irving, or Kemba Walker). We’ll be a top-three seed in the East, easily. Oh, and we’re going to have the #11 pick in this year’s draft, so throw in a Gary Harris or Nik Stauskas for four years.
Hennigan’s sales pitch to the T-Wolves: Listen, you’re going to get a top-3 pick. Top-3! That’s someone with bonified star potential, and you’re going to get ‘em for under $5 million a year! Plus you’re going to get a quality player in Jameer Nelson and a definite starter with Aaron Afflalo, guys that can help you win right away. Plus we’ll throw in next year’s first rounder if you’re really set on it.
Boston Celtics: (Possible Trade: #5 overall pick, J. Green, B. Bass)
Celtics GM Danny Ainge sales pitch to Love: Want to know what happened last time I completed a mega-deal with the T-Wolves? When I dealt for another person named Kevin? We won a championship the next year. With you and Rondo, we’ll have two of the best offensive threats in the league. Plus, with you here there’s no way Rondo walks in free agency next offseason. Throw in Jared Sullinger and Kelly Olynyk and we’ve got a solid core going forward, being led by Brad Stevens, aka the league’s next Gregg Poppovich. Oh, and we’re only going to keep improving. Sure we got rid of the #5 pick this year, but we’ve still got the #17. And we’ve got two first-rounders next year, two in 2016, and two in 2018. Sign a max-deal with us and you’re going to have your jersey up in the rafters of the Garden one day, alongside Russell and Bird, Pierce and Garnett.
Ainge’s sales pitch to the T-Wolves: Remember what happened last time we made a Blockbuster trade? You got Kevin Love the next year. This is your opportunity to not only get the next Kevin Love with our #5 pick, but also get Jeff Green (a guy who averaged 17 and 5 last year) and the option to tank next year and get another really high draft pick. And honestly, if you’re really going to press us, we’ll throw in one of the draft picks we hijacked from Brooklyn. How does 2018 sound?
Chicago Bulls: (Possible trade: #16 and #19 draft picks, Carlos Boozer’s expiring contract)
Bulls GM Gar Forman’s sales pitch to Love: Kevin, we know you’re interested in coming here. You’re good at offense, we’re bad at offense. We’re good at defense, you could use a little work in that department. Perfect match. Just keep vetoing all those other potential deals, and we can definitely outbid the Warriors.
Forman’s pitch to the T-Wolves: You’re going to have three first-round draft picks this year! How many times has that ever happened in the NBA? NEVER. That’s a great situation in a down draft year, let alone one of the best draft classes ever. Plus, you might lose Love for nothing next year if you don’t deal him now.
Golden State Warriors: (Possible trade: Harrison Barnes, David Lee, 2015 first round pick)
Warriors GM Bob Myers sales pitch to Love: I mean, have you seen our roster?
Warriors GM Bob Myers sales pitch to the T-Wolves: Okay, before you hang up, just let me explain. Harrison Barnes is still only 21, and he wasn’t a good fit for that rat-bastard Mark Jackson’s offense. If you get him slashing off of dribble penetration from Rubio, he’s going to be deadly. Plus, he’s still only 21. Then you get David Lee, who will definitely help you guys win right now. The guy came to the Warriors and what happened? We started winning. I don’t care if there’s not necessarily any causation, the guy’s got the It factor. Plus a 2015 first-rounder. What more could you possibly want?
Love’s Decision Is Final
At the end of the day, though, Kevin Love has the leverage in these trade talks. Obviously the Celtics and Magic can offer the T-Wolves the best packages. However, Kevin Love can veto any trade by simply refusing to sign a long-term deal with the team that trades for him. No one is going to give up high draft picks for a one-year rental.
The bad news for the Warriors is that their deal doesn’t expire until the trade deadline hits this upcoming season. That means Minnesota can allow teams like the Magic and Celtics ample time to try and convince Love that they will be contenders with him on their team. The T-Wolves owner, Glen Taylor, said he doesn’t expect to trade Love by the draft, which means that the Warriors 2015 pick would be in play to trade (thankfully). Even then, the Warriors deal is probably the least enticing (unless they were to throw in Klay Thompson, which I don’t think they would or should do).
If Love wants to play chicken with the T-Wolves, he will most certainly win. If he decides that he only wants to play for the Warriors, then the Warriors will end up getting him for a sub-par deal relative to any other deal the T-Wolves are offered. If Love decides that he wants to play in the wispy East, then in all likelihood he’ll end up on one of the three teams listed above.
Here’s to hoping K-Love is more stubborn than Steve Jobs, and has his sights set on Silicon Valley.