The Kevin Love sweepstakes - all in or facilitator?
When a superstar like Kevin Love becomes available it is incumbent on any team to kick the tyres and see what it would take to bring him in. Obviously there are many rumours and scenarios floating around the blogosphere and interweb but most seem highly unlikely. Surely the days of a team being completely fleeced for their star in a trade are gone right? Recent history would suggest so.
Some may argue that the Harden trade was thievery by Morey and the Rockets but personally I don’t feel that trade will end up looking as one sided as many others claim. If Steven Adams continues to develop (I could see him topping out at around 10-12pts 8-10rebs and 4-5 severely bruised & annoyed opposition players per game) and if Lamb can be a reliable scorer (anywhere around 12-15pts per game would be ideal – maybe unlikely but ideal) plus the harder to define elements of financial flexibility and the effect on the OKC culture (i.e. – if you don’t buy in you are shipped out) may end up being closer to matching Houston’s return than initially thought. Especially if Harden continues to shrink at the business end of the season and having to google the word ‘defence’ to have any idea of the concept’s existence.
The standard by which modern superstar trades will measured will surely be the Knicks-Nuggets Melo blockbuster. The idea being that if you are giving up an allstar in his prime you need a combination of assets in return – draft picks are the obvious one, preferably some for immediate use and some for down the track, but the package of players in the deal is paramount. Ideally you take back a combination possessing as many of the following traits as possible – youth, upside (at least one player with allstar potential and another one or two who are starter quality at minimum) and no onerous contracts. In the perfect circumstance you obtain a range of known factors to mitigate against guys not reaching their full potential, getting injured or leaving in free agency. I think the package Denver got for Melo meets most of these criteria and New York got the guy they coveted (and then blew it, but that is another story)
This kind of deal is obviously easier said than done and of all the teams mentioned in the Love raffle I can only really see two that can possibly meet this criteria and are likely to be able to retain Love in free agency – cross off Cleveland (can you imagine if he left there for the Lakers? Cleveland may never recover) Houston, Boston and the Lakers – all teams offering average packages for various reasons. This leaves Golden State and our Bulls as the only real players in the game. The Wolves actually have considerable leverage in this affair and since David Kahn is longer calling the shots they will not fold easily for their marque player. If you want a guy who is arguably a top five player then you better not be calling Newt and Flip with any crappy deals full of your team’s flotsam and jetsam – serious buyers only please.
I think if we want to get Love we will need to go ‘all in’ and offer a package that is loaded with current contributors, future flexibility plus current and future picks. As much as we might want to offer Boozer and Brewer straight up we will need go hard if we want to bring a superstar in his prime to join Noah and Rose. Therefore the package I propose is – Boozer, Gibson, Butler, pick 16, a future first round pick (with sliding protection) and some future 2nd rounders. The only adjustment to this package I envision working would be to substitute Jimmy for the rights to Mitoric. I know this is a lot to lose but the days of giving up a Perry, Lang and Hornacek for a Barkley are long gone. In return we get Love plus take on at least one of the contracts they want to dump – JJ Barea would be okay with me (only just though) and if possible a young asset like Shabaz Muhammad.
Depending on other moves this gives us a potential line-up of –
Rose/ Augustin/ Barea/ 2nd rounder (purest point available – Payton or Micic would good)
FA vet (CJ Miles, Anthony Morrow or similar) Snell/ Barea/ Muhammad
Dunleavy/ 1st rounder (Hood, Young, Warren?) Muhammad
Love/ Mitoric/ FA vet (Brand?)
Noah/ Smith/ Love/ Brand
(*I am not certain we can afford Mitoric if we trade Boozer rather than amnesty him so any cap wizzes out there can correct me if this is not possible.)
We are certainly gambling the future to make a run now but I feel this team would give us a good shot for a few years at least.
The other option is we get involved as a facilitator to possibly top up our current team whilst playing on the desperation of another team to get Love. In this case the Warriors, they seem very keen and have young assets but lack one key element – draft picks. They have shown a willingness to take risks to get the player they covet (Iggy) and I think we can gain some quality depth by sending some picks and salary filler their way.
How about a scenario in which we get involved in a Wolves-Warriors trade with our current and future picks bringing in some guys who can contribute immediately (so Thibs isn’t forced into playing rookies against every fibre of his being) and also possibly grow with our core. For example – We send pick 16, this year’s 2nd rounder – 49, plus the Sacto pick to Golden State (we would need to throw in Brewer and Amundson but hey – that’s why we signed them right?) In return we finish with Draymond Green and Shabaz Muhammad.
The Warriors finish with a package of – Love, Kevin Martin & Gorgui Dieng and pick 49 whilst the Wolves get David Lee, Harrison Barnes, Klay Thompson, pick 16 this year and a future pick - either a Warriors 1st rounder 2016 (?) and the Sacto pick. They take, and then immediately waive, the contracts of Brewer and Amundson too. I realise all parties seem to be giving up a lot but I reckon that is what it will take to get this done and have everyone happy. Plus the two Western Conference teams will want to feel like they won or they won’t do the deal with a conference rival.
Why the Bulls do it
– We get to keep pick 19 yet add young depth with varying degrees of upside. If we amnesty Boozer and bring in Mitoric we have a good mix of positional flexibility and have added guys on rookie deals. I like a frontline core rotation of Noah, Gibson, Butler, Mitoric & Green, the backcourt is bolstered by the potential of Muhammad – who I don’t really love (pardon the pun) but may turn out to be the offensive x-factor we seek, and we can use our top pick this year on another guard to join Rose and hopefully DJ – preferably Hairston or Young. Add a vet to play third string centre – maybe Elton Brand or Aaron Gray - and we have a very balanced and competitive group that takes advantage of the fact our main guys are pretty much in their prime.
Why the Warriors do it
– Most importantly because they are desperate for Love. A starting line-up of Love, Bogut, Iggy, Martin & Curry has amazing offensive potential and if Kerr can install a scheme that utilises the elite defenders in Iggy and Bogut and somehow hides the other starters as much as possible they are a huge threat in the West. They would need to top up the bench with solid role players but that team’s title potential and the fact they would be a whole bunch of fun to play with will help with that. The fact they get Dieng in this deal to back up (or stand in for when injured) Bogut is a huge bonus but if they are giving up both Thompson and Barnes then I think they demand the young big fella’s inclusion.
Why the Wolves do it
– They bring in three starters – two of whom are young and have somewhere between huge upside and considerable potential depending on your view. They get another highish pick in a loaded draft this year plus the future picks to look forward to. A starting line-up of – Rubio, Thompson, Barnes, Pekovic and Lee all of sudden looks much more threatening than their current bunch. All that shooting and athleticism around Rubio hopefully helps disguise his weaknesses (shooting, finishing at the rim) the open shots he gets Thompson, Lee and Barnes makes them unbelievably potent on that side of the ball. The fact they don’t address their lack of rim protection (in fact giving up Dieng is a step backwards in that area) is a concern but they would hope to address that in with some of the cache of picks they get or with a vet FA.
So then – have at it! Who disagrees, who agrees and who thinks I just damn crazy?