For Steve Kerr, the easy part is now over. The courtship, signing on the dotted line, and the welcome press conference have come and gone, and now Kerr is officially the head coach of the Golden State Warriors.
So now what? Kerr will head to Oklahoma City to broadcast the rest of the Western Conference Finals between the Spurs and Thunder for TNT, while he wonders how he can get the Warriors to this same position a year from now.
With sky-high expectations and a fan base that is still befuddled over the firing of Mark Jackson, Kerr almost has to make it a goal to reach the Conference Finals and win more than 51 games. He has a lot of things planned that would differ from Jackson’s reign: more spacing on the court, pushing the ball at all times, being more like the Spurs, using a little of the Triangle Offense, hiring assistant coaches with head coaching experience, and adding a Stretch 4 to the roster.
Yep, he calls him a Stretch 4 because he can’t talk about any players on other teams, but if he could, he’d have “I WANT KEVIN LOVE” sharpied on his forehead. Or he can say he’d “Love” to have a Stretch 4, as Tom Tolbert tried to bait him on KNBR yesterday.
Kerr pointed to Game 7 against the Clippers, when Draymond Green started at the power forward position and made five 3-pointers, scoring 24 points on the night. Many of his looks were wide open because the Clippers were more focused on guarding Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson at the three-point line.
Which means if the Warriors were to acquire Love, it would be nothing short of a godsend and would push them into the “elite” category of teams in the West. Instead of having Curry or Thompson dribbling around looking for a perimeter shot while the defense collapses on them, Love adds another threat from the outside, spacing out the floor and allowing more room for Curry and Thompson to operate, or else the defense risks leaving Love wide open. And if Draymond Green can make five threes in a game using that same strategy, think about what Kevin Love would do?
Of course, we can all dream. But acquiring Love won’t come without a cost, and there’s no guarantee that the Timberwolves would be interested in what the Warriors have to offer.
Right now, the two names that are being tossed around are David Lee and Harrison Barnes, but the Timberwolves would be ludicrous to accept an offer of just those two players.
Unless, as Tim Kawikami writes, Minnesota really values Lee for something more than salary dump, they’re not agreeing to this trade. Lee is grossly overpaid, has lost his mid-range game, is an amoeba on defense, and admittedly just had the “most miserable basketball season” of his career.
Meanwhile, Barnes had an immensely disappointing sophomore campaign after a promising rookie season. Relegated to the bench after the acquisition of Andre Iguodala, Barnes never really found his game. He routinely forced up mid-range jumpers, looked tentative and rarely attacked the basket, and just seemed lost on the court. Still, he’s only 21 years old and has a world of potential. But for the Timberwolves to trade their franchise, once-in-a-lifetime player for an underachieving big man and a second-year player with no confidence, it’s just not sensible.
Forget about adding draft picks. Thanks to moves made to sign Iguodala last offseason, the Warriors can’t move a first round pick right now. Which means they can’t offer something that other teams looking to acquire Love (Houston, Boston, Chicago, etc.) can give Minnesota.
So, if the Lee and Barnes package doesn’t work, and they can’t trade draft picks, what can the Warriors offer the Timberwolves for Kevin Love? Curry isn’t going anywhere. Bogut probably isn’t either; the Warriors need him on the floor more than anyone else besides Steph. Iguodala is signed long-term and after what the Warriors went through to get him last offseason, he’s not going anywhere. Which leaves Thompson or Green as the only other viable trade chips. Green probably isn’t going to be a deal-swinger considering that he’s a bench player, but the Thompson dilemma is intriguing. An offer of Lee, Thompson, and Barnes for Love would likely entice Minnesota. However, that would put the Warriors in another predicament of who would start at the off-guard spot, not to mention they would be giving up two-fifths of their starting lineup and a promising young talent in Thompson who is only starting to scratch at his potential.
If the Warriors deem Thompson untouchable, then forget about trading for Love, unless the Timberwolves have a strong desire to have David Lee on their roster, which is doubtful.
Going in another direction, the Warriors could ship Lee to another team. Marcus Thompson of the Bay Area News Group reveals the Magic as a potential suitor for Lee, but a lot of that depends on what they get out of the upcoming NBA draft. Clearing Lee’s contract altogether could allow the Warriors to pursue the big fishes in the free agent market — namely LeBron James or Carmelo Anthony, should they choose to opt out of their contracts.
These are all hypothetical situations, but it’s what the Warriors are up against right now. If they want that Stretch 4, or that second star player to pair up with Stephen Curry, they’re going to have to get creative.