Golden State Warriors

Andrew Wiggins' Contract Gives Golden State Warriors One Last Shot at Kevin Love

OAKLAND, CA - APRIL 14: Kevin Love #42 of the Minnesota Timberwolves shoots a free throw against the Golden State Warriors on April 14, 2014 at Oracle Arena in Oakland, California. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2014 NBAE (Photo by Rocky Widner/NBAE via Getty Images)
Rocky Widner/Getty Images
Grant HughesNational NBA Featured ColumnistJuly 28, 2014

Now that Andrew Wiggins has signed his rookie contract with the Cleveland Cavaliers, this offseason's most interminable trade saga—the one involving the Golden State Warriors and Kevin Love—is assured of an extended run through August.

When Wiggins inked his deal on July 24, as reported by The Associated Press (via NBA.com), it instituted a 30-day waiting period during which the No. 1 overall pick could not be included in a trade. Like many weighty decisions, trading a top overall selection before he's played a single game comes with a legislated mandate to think it over.

LAS VEGAS, NV - JULY 13:  Andrew Wiggins #21 of the Cleveland Cavaliers handles the ball against the San Antonio Spurs at the Samsung NBA Summer League 2014 on July 13, 2014 at the Cox Pavilion in Las Vegas, Nevada. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledg
Garrett Ellwood/Getty Images

On the one hand, this "give it some thought" window in which the Cavs are now stuck allows the Dubs a final opportunity that feels a little undeserved. After all, by most accounts, the Warriors had their shot at Love weeks ago.

For days on end, it seemed as though Golden State had a deal right in front of it, just waiting to be consummated if the franchise would relent on including Klay Thompson.

But the Warriors held strong (or stupidly stubborn, depending on your perspective), and no deal materialized. A swap that would have exchanged two of the league's best shooters never happened, ironically, because nobody would pull the trigger.

Maybe now, with a finite deadline until the Cavs and Minnesota Timberwolves commit to a blockbuster, the Warriors will reconsider their position. For a pained faction of fans, another few weeks of teeth-grinding frustration might be worth it if the payoff is Love in a Warriors uniform.

Apr 14, 2014; Oakland, CA, USA; Minnesota Timberwolves forward Kevin Love (42) dunks against the Golden State Warriors during the first quarter at Oracle Arena. Mandatory Credit: Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports
USA TODAY Sports

Words like "baffling" and "incomprehensible" get tossed around in the Bay Area when discussing the Dubs' refusal to deal Thompson.

That's not to say there's consensus on the issue.

It's complicated, and there are plenty of fans who'd just as soon retain the talent on hand and move forward. Of course, there's a fair amount of overlap between those fans and the ones who blubbered about the catastrophe of losing Monta Ellis three years ago, so it's fair to note that not all opinions are created equal.

Ultimately, the only opinions that mattered before, now and over the next 30 days are the ones in the Warriors' front office. And those, so far, haven't seen fit to make a deal. As such, Thompson is feeling more secure in his place these days.

May 20, 2014; Oakland, CA, USA; Golden State Warriors co-owners Joe Lacob (left) and Peter Guber (right) watch as Steve Kerr (not pictured) addresses the media in a press conference after being introduced as the new head coach for the Warriors at the Warr
USA TODAY Sports

"The fact that I haven't been traded yet makes me feel comfortable. That speaks for itself," Thompson told Marc J. Spears of Yahoo Sports.

It would seem the moment has passed.

Then again, what if the upcoming Wiggins waiting period gives the Dubs enough time to reconsider the potential mistake of not shipping Thompson to the Wolves as part of a deal to bring back Love?

Maybe they'll remember that Thompson's agent, Bill Duffy, wants a max extension for his client before the season begins—one starting at $15.7 million per year, per Sam Amick of USA Today.

Maybe they'll come to terms with the fact that shooting prowess in a wing player isn't nearly as valuable as it is in a power forward.

OAKLAND, CA - MAY 1: Klay Thompson #11 of the Golden State Warriors shoots a three pointer against the Los Angeles Clippers in Game Six of the Western Conference Quarterfinals during the 2014 NBA Playoffs at Oracle Arena on May 1, 2014 in Oakland, Califor
Rocky Widner/Getty Images

And maybe, just maybe, they'll realize that the chance to snag a superstar, one who'd pair ideally with Stephen Curry and propel the team's offense into the stratosphere, doesn't hit the trade block every day.

Opportunity knocked for the Warriors months ago when Love first became available and they were among the chief suitors. Instead of knocking once and leaving the doorstep, as it is wont to do, opportunity has now agreed to hang around on the stoop for another month.

It's hard to overstate the rarity of the Warriors' good fortune on that front.

Of course, the arguments against getting back into the Love-for-Thompson talks will be the same now as they've been throughout the process: Thompson protects Curry on defense, another chemistry shakeup may not be what the Warriors need after losing Mark Jackson and taking on the contracts of Kevin Martin and/or J.J. Barea is too steep a price.

Apr 14, 2014; Oakland, CA, USA; Golden State Warriors guard Klay Thompson (11) reacts after being called for a foul against Minnesota Timberwolves guard Kevin Martin (23) during the second quarter at Oracle Arena. Mandatory Credit: Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY
USA TODAY Sports

Oh, and we can't forget this one, either: Love could simply opt out and walk away after one year, leaving the Warriors without anything to show for giving up Thompson.

Those are all fair points, and if Love won't assure an opt-in for 2015-16, maybe that's a reasonable justification to kill the deal.

The Warriors now have time to think about all of those things—time to weigh out the pros and cons, consider how high they'd like to raise their ceiling and how bold they're willing to be to do it.

It's entirely possible the Cavs and Wolves already have a deal in place, and that the only reason Wiggins signed his deal at all is because his new cap figure of $5.5 million makes a potential trade financially easier to swing.

Per Amick

But because Love is owed $15.7 million next season and the Cavs would have to send back a similar amount of salary in a deal, it's key that Wiggins' possible part in it will now be attached to his $5.5 million salary for next season.

Had Wiggins been traded before signing, Minnesota would merely have had his rights and Cleveland would have had to find other ways to bridge that financial gap.

If that's what the Cavaliers are planning, the Dubs' chances are as slim as ever—30-day window or no.

But if the Wiggins signing points to something else, to some hesitation or uncertainty on the Cavaliers' part, perhaps, the Warriors have one last shot to reconsider their long-held, obstinate stance on Thompson's value.

If they're still willing to think critically about the issue, then that extra time is probably a good thing.

The upshot is this: Golden State must now get this decision absolutely, unequivocally right.

Ben Margot/Associated Press

When great "what if" deals arise in the heat of draft night or at the frenzied trade deadline, we can forgive teams for hesitating (or even completely whiffing) on exchanges that might have made a real difference. It's excusable to balk at a major trade when it comes out of nowhere and there hasn't been enough time to consider all the possible outcomes and consequences.

This is a different scenario.

Golden State has had a lifetime (in NBA terms) to examine a Love-for-Thompson swap. It has been afforded the incredibly rare opportunity to inspect it right side up, upside down and inside out. And now it's getting another month to do it all over again.

There'll be no excuse if Warriors get this one wrong.

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