Here we go on the NBA summer fun times and of course it starts with Minnesota's Kevin Love and of course the Warriors are reportedly a team that is getting in line to try to acquire the star power forward. (See: Yahoo, ESPN.)
If you know Joe Lacob and Bob Myers, you know they always aim for the highest-profile targets and this year it's LeBron James (if he opts out), Carmelo Anthony (ditto) and Love (who is under contract for next season but can opt out next summer and might force the issue this summer).
First up: Love, who has some interest in the Warriors according to various reports, and it's natural for Love to have interest in a West Coast team that is as talented as the Warriors, with an aching need at power forward, presumably.
But a warning: I'm not sure the Warriors have enough trade ammunition to pull this one off. I know Lacob and Myers have pulled off surprises before and I know they will try with Love for sure -- maybe by reaching out to a third team -- but this one seems too tricky even for them.
What can the Warriors offer that the Timberwolves -- or a third team -- would want enough to send Love to the Warriors? Remember, the Warriors stripped away a lot of interesting trade pieces when they acquired Andre Iguodala last summer.
Well, there's Stephen Curry, one of the biggest commodities in the NBA . . . but he won't be traded.
And other than that?
My swift conclusion: If Minnesota likes David Lee (or his contract), the Warriors might have traction in any potential Love talks.
That means: Minnesota has to consider Lee as VALUE, as something worthwhile to get back in return for any Love deal, not just as salary ballast.
If Minnesota does not view Lee and his remaining $30.5 million over the next two years as VALUE . . . it would be difficult for the Warriors to get involved in this one.
I'll add that a third team could find value in Lee and jump in to help the Warriors make this trade, but I just don't see where that would come from.
Back then, I said they should try to flip Lee and Harrison Barnes for Luol Deng, because they could either re-sign Deng or use Deng as a sign-and-trade chip in a mega-deal . . . for somebody like Love.
But that didn't happen and now the Warriors don't have that chip -- whether it was possible or not, I don't know. It was something that all creative teams should consider, though.
So the mega-deal time is coming and what do the Warriors have as trade or sign-and-trade bait?
Basically, it all has to start with Lee for a few important reasons.
Right now, the Warriors don't have first-round picks to trade and would almost certainly need to shed a big salary and a pending big salary to add Love.
They can trade the 2015 first-rounder, but only after this year's draft -- in which they owe their No. 1 to Utah as part of the Iguodala sign-and-trade -- and they can only trade the '15 and not the '16.
That's because the Warriors owe their 2017 first-rounder also to Utah as part of the Iguodala deal and you can never have consecutive first-round picks owed in trades.
Which is a reminder that the Warriors sacrificed a lot of their flexibility last summer in the Iguodala deal when they gave up two huge expiring deals (Andris Biedrins and Richard Jefferson) plus those two picks for Utah to facilitate the deal with Denver.
The previous Warriors administration was bidding against nobody except its own neuroses ("ALL-STAR!") on that one, but of course Lacob was about to buy the team and absolutely loved the deal, too.
I've gotten signals that Lacob is more willing to consider dealing Lee these days; he still wants value, though. He doesn't just want to give away one of his favorite players. And that's difficult because Lee has been hovering in "give-away" value mode for a few years now, realistically.
If Lee's deal was just one year shorter, he'd be a lot more valuable now as a deal set to expire next summer. But it goes all the way to 2016 and that means Lee's deal remains cumbersome, unless you just love his game.
As the Warriors have found in other moments when they've assessed Lee's value . . . he doesn't have much. Not with $30.5 million and two years left.
Beyond presumed "value," the Warriors almost certainly have to move Lee (or Andrew Bogut) in any deal for Love because they couldn't afford to have all of these salaries on one front line:
Love ($15.7 million next season, $16.7 million in 2015-16 though he can opt-out to earn more and almost certainly will);
Lee ($15 million next season, $15.5 million in 2015-16);
and Bogut ($12.97 million next season, $12 million in 2015-16 and $11 million in 2016-17).
I don't think they're moving Bogut, especially to Minnesota, which already has Nikola Pekovic signed for four more years.
Plus, the Warriors also have Iguodala ($12.3 million/$11.7 million/$11.1 million), Curry ($10.6 million/$11.4 million/$12.1 million) and Klay Thompson ($3.1 million and then due for his large extension) all making or set to make $10 million-plus per in the perimeter positions.
Even if they put Thompson in this deal, adding Love without subtracting another huge salary would put the Warriors near $70 million with just their top five salaries -- which would throw them far above the luxury tax line for many years.
They're not doing that.
There will be very attractive bids for Love out there and if the Warriors have to include Lee (and they do), then they need Minnesota to think he adds value.
If the Timberwolves like Lee -- say, Flip Saunders wants to rebuild that locker room and knows Lee is a good guy in there -- then the Warriors can start adding pieces to an offer.
They can include Harrison Barnes or Thompson or maybe even Draymond Green, in some order and some multiples of that, and that's a way to compete with Chicago, Boston and Phoenix (all with tons of picks) in the Love Derby.
But only if it starts with Lee. And I don't think the T-Wolves are going to want to start it with Lee, but that's just me. Let's see.
After plenty of maneuvering -- and a near-trade to the Warriors in June 2007 -- Garnett was finally traded to Boston on July 31, 2007.
Remember, KG's agent liked the idea of him going to the Warriors and a large West Coast market and I've been told that the Timberwolves liked the Warriors' offer the best (Monta Ellis and Al Harrington and the draft rights to either Al Thornton or Brandan Wright).
Why didn't that happen? There were some issues with Garnett signing off on it -- and with Robert Rowell and Chris Cohan dragging their feet on an immediate max extension in addition to KG's trade kicker (which is always negotiable).
Also, Garnett had an interest in landing in the East, where the road to the NBA Finals was easier.
He was right. Eventually, Garnett got to Boston -- when Boston had just landed Ray Allen from Seattle-soon-to-be-Oklahoma City in a trade for the No. 5 pick in the 2007 (which turned out to be Jeff Green).
Guess what: Boston is an interesting possibility to land Love, and is currently holding the fifth-best slot in the pre-lottery odds.
OK, there is one huge difference between this situation and that one: Garnett was 31 then; Love is 25 now.
July 31, 2007: Traded by the Minnesota Timberwolves to the Boston Celtics for Ryan Gomes, Gerald Green, Al Jefferson, Theo Ratliff, Sebastian Telfair, a 2009 1st round draft pick (Wayne Ellington was later selected) and a 2009 1st round draft pick (Jonny Flynn was later selected).
Flynn and Ellington. Way to make use of those draft picks!