The Golden State Warriors’ chase for Kevin Love has been challenged after a major event took place earlier this month. The NBA landscape shook dramatically when LeBron James decided to take his talents back to Cleveland, Ohio. His decision caused a major power shift and blew the Eastern Conference wide open for a new leader. With the Miami Heat dethroned as the alpha dogs of the East, the Cleveland Cavaliers are looking to take control of the conference.
What was previously a neglected franchise, the Cavaliers are now a few moves away from being a serious contender for an NBA title, and their next target is Minnesota Timberwolves’ Love. He has expressed his willingness to sign a long-term contract with the Cavaliers (via RealGM). Now, there seems to be a race between Cleveland and Golden State for the acquisition of Love.
The Timberwolves remain stubborn in demanding a king’s ransom for Love, and the Cavs have been the most submissive team thus far. Current rumors report that Cleveland is willing to give up Andrew Wiggins, Anthony Bennett, and a future first round pick in exchange for the coveted stretch-four.
Although some fans may be worried that the Warriors are about to lose the Love sweepstakes, the Timberwolves would be foolish to believe the Cavs have put together a package better than what the Warriors have already offered in David Lee and Harrison Barnes.
The Cavs are stocked with young talent due to a “miraculous” run in the annual draft lottery; they have landed three of the last four first overall picks. However, these players are unproven, lack experience, and need years to develop. The Timberwolves are interested in players who can make an impact immediately.
In the last five years, only one of Minnesota’s eight first round draft picks is still on their roster. If the Wolves want to turn it around like the Warriors have done in the last half decade, they need to acquire key veteran leadership as opposed to acquiring prospects. Many may forget that the Wolves were a .500 team a great part of last season. Dumping Love for a handful of young players will not only result in regression, it can also lead to Ricky Rubio becoming impatient with losing and ultimately his departure.
With the trade package offered from the Warriors, Minnesota can receive players who can contribute now and in the future. Lee provides the same stability he has given Warriors since 2010. He also can help build the organization from the inside out. Lee has built a strong resume with two All-Star appearances and a string consistent seasons with averages above 16 points and nine rebounds since 2008.
Last season’s performance by Barnes caused his value to take a hit. However, he still has upside despite his sophomore slump. In Minnesota, Barnes will be able to soak up more minutes on the floor and get closer to his expected potential. A key aspect that helped him have such a spectacular rookie season was the availability of minutes at the forward position.
Lee and Barnes will also bring a winning mentality to the Wolves’ franchise, something any package from the Cavaliers’ players cannot. A lineup including Rubio, Corey Brewer, Barnes, Lee and Nikola Pekovic has the potential to surprise and overachieve in the difficult West.
As the focus around the league follow James to the Cavs, many fans are anxious to see the Love domino to drop. While Cleveland looks ready to give up an arm and a leg to acquire him, the Timberwolves are aware that a couple of high potential players and draft picks are not enough for them to pull the trigger on the trade. If the Wolves can learn from the past and look to emulate the Warriors’ recent success, fans need not to worry about the Cleveland replacing Golden State as primary trade partners. It is only a matter of time when both organizations realize that this deal is the best for all parties involved.