1) Will the Warriors regret not pulling the trigger on the deal for Kevin Love?
Jordan Ramirez: Yes, but maybe not to the extent we originally had thought.
I was a big proponent of the trade, with the thinking that Top-10 players don’t make themselves available all too often and additionally, you have the pieces to acquire said player. The Warriors had the pieces (Klay Thompson), the reasoning (stretch-4) and the roster (Stephen Curry) to make all this work seamlessly. Love is a monster on the glass, can replace Thompson as the newest adopted Splash Brother and most importantly, can ease the pressure on Curry on the offensive end.
The deal-breaker in all of this was Klay Thompson, who has transformed from three-point specialist to one of the best two-way guards in the league. His growth has been fun — albeit frustrating at times — to watch, but a case can be made he’s the second best 2-guard in the NBA behind only James Harden. He takes a lot of the defensive burden away from Curry, is just special from beyond the arc (41% for his career) and at the tail end of last season began to drive to the lane with regularity.
The Warriors keep their talented backcourt together, a backcourt that is Top-3 in the NBA and can be a championship-caliber one with the right talent and coaching around them. The Warriors made it clear this off-season: the team will be built around these two players. Love wasn’t worth the cost of breaking them up, and this franchise — this regime especially — has long heralded chemistry more so than others seem to. I can’t blame them, it’s not a bad consolation for not giving in for Love.
We’ll know more as the seasons progress, but there’s still regret in the air.
Alex Torres: It’s obviously tough to say at this point and time, but I believe the Warriors will be glad they didn’t pull the trigger on the Kevin Love deal. Yes, he’s one of the better players in the NBA, but Klay Thompson is quickly emerging as one of the most promising shooting guards in the league. He is currently still in the running to make the Team USA roster and before Paul George’s horrific injury, Thompson looked great amongst his peers.
Thompson will prove to be the right choice over time; he plays on both ends of the court and is a great teammate. Defense wins championships and having a defensive presence on the perimeter like Thompson will crucial as they battle it out in the Western Conference for years to come. There is no way you could’ve separated the Splash Brothers
Danny Leroux: Will the Warriors regret not pulling the trigger on the deal for Kevin Love?
Yes, plain and simple. When a team has a chance to have two of the ten best players in the league who also happen to be 26 or younger, it would take an insanely strong combination of forces to make that a bad decision. While Klay Thompson has plenty of value and even more usefulness next to Stephen Curry in particular, Kevin Love has been far better already than Klay likely will ever be as a pro. In fact, I would have done the rumored deal even if Love would not firmly commit to the Warriors right now because the teams with cap space next summer (Lakers, Knicks, etc) are all inferior options at the moment.
What slays me about the trade is that the rumored terms that the Warriors turned down were even more favorable than the ones I proposed months ago and would have been thrilled with because for some reason Flip Saunders thinks incredibly highly of Golden State’s pieces. Whether caused by overvaluing their own players or just terrible negotiation strategy, it would be surprising to me if passing on the rumored deal did not haunt the franchise for years to come.
After all, the Warriors already passed on picking up an elite young player to pair with Curry once and just did it again.
2) Lee/Barnes package can fetch you what in return?
Jordan Ramirez: An above average player. David Lee’s expiring contract will be attractive to teams next season, but for now it’s still an abomination of a deal that has haunted the team since the day it was signed. Lee is a fine player and one that shouldn’t be criticized nearly as much as he does, but he’s not worth what he’s getting paid. He still has value, but only as a throw-in veteran who can keep a team from the cellars of the standings. Minnesota thought of him as a mere casualty they’ll be willing to take in a deal for Kevin Love, which shows how much overvaluing the Warriors carry on their own power forward.
Barnes had a remarkable playoff campaign two seasons ago when the aforementioned Lee couldn’t play, opening the lane — literally — for Barnes to succeed. He looked confident, which is a far cry from his beaten body language that transpired for the duration of last season. I put most of the blame here on Mark Jackson, who trotted Barnes out with the bench unit instead of the starters for most of his time, turning Barnes into a spot-up shooter with many isolation situations as well. That isn’t his forté, which as we learned in 2013 was a wider floor, catching it in space and acting off instinct instead of acting as the linchpin for the entire offense.
Combine both and you can acquire a player of need, possibly an upgrade at the 4 (which is what the Warriors seem to be searching for) or a quality role player. The Warriors were naive to think they could acquire Love earlier in the summer for just both. But could both get you a Ryan Anderson? Al Horford? Probably not the latter, but the market comes and goes, so we’ll see what the Warriors could get for both as the season progresses. The package of both Lee/Barnes isn’t great, but there’s potential there. Lee is more than serviceable at the right price and in the correct system, Barnes can be a positive.
We might never know what they can grab.
Alex Torres: The Warriors need somebody at the power forward position and David Lee is not that person. With one year remaining in his contract, Lee could be very appealing to some teams that are looking for cap space next season. Harrison Barnes has been somewhat of a disappointment, but is still young enough to turn it around. With Lee and Barnes the Warriors have a good trade package to offer teams and with Love out of the question, they need that stretch four to put into Coach Kerr’s offense.
Ryan Anderson is one player that quickly comes to mind. He’s had some problems with injuries, but he can shoot the lights out. He has two years remaining in his contract with the New Orleans Pelicans and makes about eight million a year. I’m sure the Warriors would want more in return for Lee and Barnes, but he’s definitely what the Warriors want and need.
Danny Leroux: Not much unless they can find a team that values David Lee as an asset considering his still-not-expiring contract. Warriors fans have to hope Harrison Barnes’ value is at its low point right now because Mark Jackson did him no favors last season playing him almost exclusively at Small Forward and far too often without Stephen Curry running the show. Right now a team would have to focus on Harrison’s untapped potential and there certainly should be some who feel that way since he was a draft prospect so recently. I cannot think of a specific package coming back because I have trouble determining which General Managers want to pay David Lee $30.5 million the next two seasons even if they see him as an All-Star.
3) Are the Warriors a better team today than last season?
Jordan Ramirez: Yes, but good enough to win a title? I’m afraid not. The Kevin Love trade has been discussed at length, and while I don’t believe the Warriors were championship contenders had Love been acquired, they would’ve been closer to one with him on the roster. Regardless, they are indeed better than last season. Their bench is improved with the acquisition of versatile, length Shaun Livingston and re-signing Brandon Rush back from Utah can prove to be a huge low-risk/high-reward move.
But, the greatest acquisition of the Warriors this off-season hasn’t been a player, but a coach, and more specifically a coaching staff with decades of NBA experience. Steve Kerr was brought in, Mark Jackson was shelved and gone are the days of off-the-court drama, hands in pockets memes and offensive incompetence. For a team so vastly talented on the offensive end, their sets were incredibly awful last season, but this isn’t news. Kerr’s job is one that comes with expectations with a fan-base starved of playoff success.
The pressure is on for all parties involved, but I believe Kerr has the smarts, staff and players behind him to succeed. How far they can go will be determined.
Alex Torres: Yes, the Warriors are a better team today and that is simply because they have another year under their belt and made some moves this off-season that will catapult them to one of the top teams in the West.
First, let’s start with head coach Steve Kerr. No offense to Mark Jackson, but Kerr looks like he’s prepared to take this team to the next level. The Warriors are already one of the best defensive teams in the NBA, but under Kerr they should dramatically improve offensively. Coming from the school of Phil Jackson and Greg Popovich, Kerr will be implementing a new offense to better suit the team. With so much offensive firepower at his disposal, Kerr will have a lot to work with this season.
The addition of Shaun Livingston and Brandon Rush were exactly what the Warriors’ bench needed. After having a disappointing second unit last season, the Warriors’ bench now looks promising. Livingston’s versatility is something to look forward to and Rush’s ability to knock down the three and defend will also be something the Warriors did not possess last season. Expect an improved Warriors’ second unit, which will give Kerr an opportunity to rest his two young stars
Danny Leroux: Yes, with the two word caveat that has to apply: if healthy. They finally added a primary ball-handler off the bench in Shaun Livingston, their biggest flaw last season. I am hopeful that Festus Ezeli can build on his strong rookie season after a year recovering from injury and that Brandon Rush could be a helpful rotation swingman. Potentially most importantly, Steve Kerr should come out of the box with a better offensive scheme than Mark Jackson and the defense should stay largely intact after last season’s great success.
That said, an extended injury for Curry or Bogut likely sinks this team’s playoff chances unless something dramatic happens. The same can be said for just about any team in the West as well as the Warriors last season and even adding Kevin Love likely would not have changed that reality.