Bring up Kevin Love and his trade situation in a crowd full of Warriors die-hards and you’ll see polarizing reactions.
Some are defensive because, much like the management, they have faith in the current roster and believe that sticking with the existing core is the way to go. Others are furious, enraged that the Warriors blew their opportunity to build a superstar tandem that would’ve made the Warriors competitive for years to come. The remaining are expressionless, have no idea what’s going on, and somehow got ambushed by this crowd of basketball-obsessed maniacs.
At the end of next season, the NBA fandom will look back at this crossroads. Speculation about what could’ve been will always linger because of the powerful stances many have taken on this situation.
Even if the Warriors make it to the 2015 Finals, there will always be the argument that the addition of Love would have made them a better team. Any offensive lull in a crucial game can be scrutinized, because pairing an absolute offensive stud in Love with Curry would’ve given the Warriors two extremely qualified crunch-time guys.
Only a championship or marked improvement in Thompson’s abilities – elevating himself to All-Star level of play – can put the debate to rest definitively.
As it stands currently, the Cleveland Cavaliers are the unequivocal frontrunners in the race for Love. While the Cavaliers recently signed Canadian phenom Andrew Wiggins to his rookie contract, initiating a 30-day period during which they cannot trade him, they recently made it clear that they are willing to part ways with him. LeBron James reportedly told Love of his desire to play with him in Cleveland, and Love reportedly requested a trade to the Cavaliers. It’s very unlikely that this deal falls through, provided the Cavaliers don’t change their mind about Wiggins.
Estimating a timeline for Love’s departure is not an easy task. It’s almost certain that Flip Saunders, president and head coach of the Timberwolves, will trade Love before the trade deadline next season. He’s aware of Love’s inevitable departure in free agency – if it comes to it – so a trade presents the opportunity for the Timberwolves to exchange Love in return for valuable pieces, instead of letting him walk right out the door.
It’s likely that the Cavaliers will push for the trade to happen before the beginning of the 2014-2015 season. As the first overall pick of this year’s draft, Wiggins still has a considerable amount of hype and upside surrounding his name. The risk of Wiggins being even more of a project than previously anticipated (his shooting and ball-handling troubles have been well-chronicled) and a steep decline in his trade value is not something the team wants to endure.
From Minnesota’s point of view, a No.1 pick is a nice return for their fleeing superstar and an opportunity they don’t want to miss out on, so there’s a distinct possibility that the deal happens in the gap between the end of Wiggins’ 30-day shield and the start of the regular season.
So, how long will the summer of Love last? While there’s a good chance we learn of Love’s fate before the season tips off, but the summer of Love will hang around the minds of many Warriors fans for a long time.