The Kevin Love-saga continues, and will continue for probably another month or so because of some of the players who are reportedly involved.As you may have read and gained knowledge of, once a rookie signs his contract, he is not available to be traded for 30 days. Chicago’s Doug McDermott, who is reportedly involved in Chicago’s most recent offer, was signed just a few days ago, while Cleveland’s Andrew Wiggins has yet to be signed, which makes the Minnesota-Cleveland trade more do-able at the current moment.
If Minnesota is smart, it would make the move it should have made a month ago. Trade Love to Golden State. Golden State is offering three players (two proven and one on his way to becoming proven).
Klay Thompson is a two-way player and is one of the best shooters in the NBA. Regardless of the rumored reports that he could be seeking a maximum contract in the next two years, Thompson is going to get paid anyway. He brings two things to the table that Minnesota has lacked since. . . forever: shooting and the ability to defend three positions. While I wish he was a better passer and rebounder for his size (six-feet, seven inches), there is no denying this man could average 24 points per game in the league. Being the first-option on a team would entice Thompson to be more aggressive, leading to more free-throw attempts and, in turn, more points. He would also give Minnesota a player who can create his own shot in the fourth quarter, a quarter in which Minnesota has had its struggles in the recent past. He can post-up smaller defenders, turn and shoot over them. One thing that worries me about Thompson is that he is somewhat inefficient. His PER was below league-average (14.3) and his points-per-shot was 1.18. A coach would like to see that number in the 1.30 to 1.35 range. He has the ability to be a 50/40/90 guy in the league.
Add David Lee to that equation and it makes Minnesota’s frontline not as strong as when Love was there, but still pretty strong. While Lee isn’t a very good defender, and Love never was either, he is a good passer and low-post player. Nikola Pekovic can only play in short spurts, so Lee would be able to operate in the paint when Pekovic isn’t in the game. And when Pekovic is in the game, Lee can step out to 15 feet and hit the jumper. One of the concerns about Lee is that he is owed over $30 million over the next two seasons. Lee is a player who has played in 87 percent of games over the course of his nine-year career, but he does miss games every now-and-then, and Minnesota would need its best players to play in every single game if they want to have a chance to contend for a playoff spot. It might seem like a small thing, but, in reality, it’s a big thing.
Thompson and Lee would be the two “main” guys in the trade for Love, but don’t discredit Harrison Barnes. After having a solid rookie season, Barnes fell off the map in his second season. When Golden State acquired André Iguodala, it bumped Barnes out of the starting lineup (he started 81 games his rookie season) and moved him to the bench where he clearly wasn’t comfortable. Barnes has a good mid-range game and has shown he isn’t too bad from deep either (35.2 percent in two seasons). His size and strength could make him a matchup nightmare for opposing teams. At six feet, eight inches tall and 215 lbs, Barnes is able to get to where he wants on the floor without much resistance.
While Cleveland’s offer to Minnesota looks promising, people need to remember that Cleveland is giving up two unproven players. On the other hand, Golden State is giving up two proven players and Barnes. Chicago has an offer that is centered around Taj Gibson and Jimmy Butler, two very good defensive players. That could also be something Minnesota is looking into.
I expect this saga to continue for another month, or maybe until training camp.
Minnesota can’t let Love walk next July.
But they certainly can’t afford to not get anything for him.
He is going to get traded.