Opportunity is knocking at the Golden State Warriors' door, and it comes bearing Love.
Kevin Love, to be more specific.
Ahead of the 2014 NBA draft, Marc Stein of ESPN.com reported that the Dubs have become favorites to land the sharpshooting, rebound-hoarding, beard-sporting Love. It makes sense, and not just because Stephen Curry needs tips on facial hair.
Superstars are rarely available outside free agency. When they are, contending teams don't often have the chance to acquire them. The Warriors stand to be an exception as long as they answer opportunity's knock with a warm smile, an extended hand and an open mind.
Conceding the Obvious
In a perfect, bending-to-the-Warriors'-greatest-desires world, acquiring Love wouldn't cost Golden State Klay Thompson.
Too bad this is reality, and Love is going to cost Thompson.
The Golden State Warriors have hit an impasse in their trade pursuit of All-Star forward Kevin Love due to what is being described as an "organizational split" on the willingness to part with prized shooting guard Klay Thompson, according to sources close to the process.
After it appeared that the Warriors were prepared to part with Thompson in a deal to land Minnesota's Love, sources told ESPN.com that Hall of Fame consultant Jerry West and new Warriors coach Steve Kerr have voiced opposition to surrendering both Thompson and a future first-round pick to the Timberwolves along with former All-Star forward David Lee for Love and Wolves guard Kevin Martin.
We could cite the future first-round pick and Kevin Martin's contract—which has three years and more than $21 million left on it—as tipping points of issue, but the report doesn't imply such hesitation on the Warriors' behalf. It's Thompson's inclusion that appears to have them holstering their trigger finger.
There is a clear downside to trading him. Talented shooting guards are almost obsolete in today's NBA. Together, he and Curry form the most lethal backcourt there is—perhaps the most lethal shooting backcourt in league history.
Trading him now after he just averaged 18.4 points per game and converted 41.7 percent of his long balls will feel wrong on so many levels.
Numbers You Can't Debate: Klay Thompson has made 545 career 3-pointers, 54 more than any other player in his 1st 3 seasons in NBA history.— Numbers Never Lie (@ESPN_Numbers) June 20, 2014
But it's still the right move.
Unlike Thompson, Love is a superstar. The Warriors cannot pass on acquiring Love when he pushes their needle in ways Thompson doesn't.
Especially when Thompson is due to be paid like a superstar.
Keeping Klay Thompson long term means overpaying him wildly. That's reason enough for Golden State to deal him.— Kevin Arnovitz (@kevinarnovitz) June 21, 2014
The Warriors can ink Thompson to an extension this summer. All indications are it will be a fat extension, one that costs the Warriors up to $10 million annually, possibly more.
That's money stars should be making. For all he does as a shooter, Thompson isn't a star. He doesn't do enough. He's not a good rebounder or passer, and there's nothing out there to suggest he's an elite defender either.
This offseason is about pushing boundaries for the Warriors. They already dispatched head coach Mark Jackson, a noted favorite of Curry, which puts pressure on them to win now.
Curry is owed a little more than $34 million over the next three years, making him the league's most affordable superstar. The Warriors just canned his mentor after he led them to back-to-back playoff appearances for the first time since the early '90s. Another first-round exit or series of early playoff exoduses won't bode well for his happiness.
As ESPN.com's Ethan Strauss explained, the Warriors are officially on the clock with him:
These are some large stakes. Either Golden State gets that perfect superstar to align with Curry and allay his concerns, or they're stuck worrying about what he'll do when his contract is up in 2017. Suddenly, the feel-good Warriors are like a lot of big-market teams: pressured to make a splash so as to placate their franchise player.
To make that splash, they must be willing to sacrifice one of the Splash Brothers.
Though Curry previously mentioned that retaining Thompson would be "huge," the Warriors are already past seeking his input. They can't suddenly pretend his preferences are edicts now. This is their chance to acquire a superstar—the only chance they'll have for some time.
Ample cap space isn't a luxury the Warriors are slated to have until summer 2016, when they (as of now) have slightly over $36.3 million in guaranteed contracts on the books. But that's before factoring in extensions for Thompson, Harrison Barnes and Draymond Green.
When all is said and done, and everyone is paid for, the Warriors could have a little more than a few shekels to throw around, a position they won't want to be in with Curry staring down free agency in 2017.
Locking up Love now gives them the inside track on re-signing him this summer. If sending Thompson to the Timberwolves—or to the Los Angeles Lakers as part of a three-way trade that lands the No. 7 pick in Minny, a possibility cited by The Los Angeles Times' Mike Bresnahan—is what it takes to push this blockbuster through, you do it.
And you do it soon.
Time is of the essence here. Like Zach Harper of CBS Sports mentioned, if the Warriors don't strike, another team will.
"The Warriors not wanting to give up Thompson and a first round pick in addition to taking on the next three years of Martin's contract aren't a surprise," he writes, "but with the Celtics, Bulls, Suns, Nuggets, and other teams having interest in acquiring Love, they may not have a choice."
A decision has to be made soon. The draft is on June 26, which is the last chance the Timberwolves have to exploit the depth of this year's class. If they're going to move Love, that would be the perfect time.
The Bulls, Suns and Celtics all have multiple first-rounders. The Nuggets have the No. 11 pick to dangle. Nothing of the sort is coming from the Warriors.
In the reported deal, the Timberwolves are placing emphasis on actual players over draft picks. That could change.
Remember, the Timberwolves aren't confined by a market of one. If the Warriors won't give into certain demands, it's onto the next one.
Whatever It Takes
There is no walking away from this deal for the Warriors.
Or rather, there shouldn't be.
It would be different if they were getting hosed, but they're not. Martin himself is a valuable shooter—he shot 38.7 percent from deep last season—and nabbing Love gives Golden State the stretch 4 new head coach Steve Kerr is openly looking for.
"I take that back: I did tell them I think this team could use a stretch 4," Kerr said, per The Mercury News' Tim Kawakami. "I think a shooting 4 could really make things difficult on the opposition."
Minnesota has apparently set a price the Warriors can pay. If they don't, they will regret it.
Should the Warriors trade for Kevin Love?
Should Love not want to play for the Warriors, things would be different. But you get the sense this isn't a problem; otherwise, negotiations wouldn't have progressed this far.
Thompson and timely logic are all that separates the Warriors from pairing a top-10 superstar with another top-10 superstar. There can be no hesitation, no outright refusal to give up talent when it means getting even more talent.
This is their chance to add another star without leveling the roster completely.
This is their chance to become a legitimate threat in the Western Conference.
This is their chance to seize a much-needed opportunity that won't come knocking again anytime soon.
*Contract information via ShamSports.