The ante has been officially upped in the competition to land Kevin Love from the Timberwolves.
With reports coming out Thursday morning indicating that the Cavaliers are willing to include Andrew Wiggins in a potential trade for Love and that LeBron James is clamoring to play with the star power forward, the pressure now shifts to the other team in the hunt for Love: the Golden State Warriors.
Essentially, the quandary for the Warriors evolves around Klay Thompson and whether they want to give up Thompson in a Love deal. There appear to be conflicting reports; this afternoon, Tim Kawikami of the San Jose Mercury News said the Warriors want to keep Thompson, but in a more recent report, Yannis Koutroupis of Basketball Insiders says the team has changed its mind. According to Koutroupis, the Warriors are now willing to put Thompson in the deal because they believe Love will opt in for the 2015-2016 season and not become a free agent.
For the sake of argument, let’s just assume the latter report is true (and it has to be true if the Warriors have any chance of landing Love). If indeed Golden State has softened its stance and is willing to let go of Thompson — coupled with the assumption that the Cavaliers are willing to do the same with Wiggins — then it becomes a question of who Flip Saunders and the Timberwolves want.
On one hand, Saunders could have Thompson, who has been in the league for three years and has improved considerably since his rookie season. Thompson already is one of the elite two-way guards in the league, with the ability to shoot lights-out on offense and lock down his man on defense. He is only 24 and not even in his prime years yet.
On the other hand, he could go for Wiggins, the first overall pick of this year’s draft. Wiggins’ athleticism is off the charts, and his upside is enormous. He could blossom into a franchise player. But he is raw, while Thompson is more developed and well-rounded. No one but Saunders knows what he wants: a proven player who can help out immediately, or a rookie who could become a star or a bust?
There are other factors too, such as the other players involved. The Warriors’ package with Thompson would presumably also include David Lee, Harrison Barnes, and a first round pick. The Cavaliers, however, can throw in Anthony Bennett, last year’s first overall pick, as well as a first rounder. But with LeBron in favor of a deal, do the Cavaliers throw in more pieces if Wiggins/Bennett/1st rounder isn’t enough? Would they consider moving Dion Waiters on top of that, or maybe Tristan Thompson? Also, if the Warriors were to trade for Love, they would have to take back Kevin Martin‘s gargantuan salary. Would they then demand more assets from Minnesota?
A deal probably isn’t imminent in any scenario, considering all the moving pieces. But surely with these latest reports on Thursday, the push for Kevin Love is getting closer and closer to a shove.