So I was wrong about the Warriors not missing Draymond Green so much. (Though of course they might have won the game if they hadn’t deactivated Ian Clark–directly contravening my thoughts on the matter.)
It is interesting to note, however, that while LeBron James and Kyrie Irving were steamrolling the Warriors in the second half of Cleveland’s win in Game 5, the third supposed member of the Cavs’ triumvirate, Kevin Love, was practically invisible. And now there’s a lot of chatter that Love is finished with Cleveland, and will be traded in the off-season.
I suspect that chatter is correct, and now the simple question arises: where will Love ultimately wind up next season? I think I can offer an answer that will make a lot of sense, at least in terms of the basketball side of the equation (the money may be another matter).
Love should wind up with the Warriors. Naturally.
This idea comes with a few caveats, provisos, quid pro quos, as the Genie might say.
For one thing, I don’t know if this could be made to work under the salary cap. Love makes a ton of money, and depending upon who departs Golden State before next season, those salaries might not make a big enough hole for Love’s contract to fill. Then again, the cap is expected to grow substantially for next season, so it’s possible the Dubs will wind up with enough room to bring Love in anyway. If the trade won’t require an exact match in the price tags, then it should be doable.
And who would be departing to make room for Love? The most obvious answer would seem to be Andrew Bogut, who also makes a lot of money (not nearly as much as Love, but over $10 mil per season) and is still a contributor, yet always seems to be one awkward fall away from another gruesome injury. Another of the bench players would probably have to go, too, but the Dubs have shown a recent ability to retool the roster and make it better even as players have departed (David Lee, and Jarret Jack before that spring immediately to mind), so no big hurdle there.
So assume it can be done; why would the Warriors want to do it?
Well, they won’t if they can land the other Kevin who may move this summer, Kevin Durant. But the Thunder’s “almost” against the Warriors in the Western Conference Finals makes it more likely that Durant will stay in OKC, or at least not assume that Oakland is the best place for him. There isn’t as much “if you can’t beat ’em, join ’em” in the air for Durant right now; he can stay with the Thunder and still be a viable championship option for next season. Hence, we should assume the Dubs will miss out on Durant. (If they do sign him, the rest of this is null and void.)
As for the Warriors acquiring Love:
Bogut contributes defense and rebounding, and while Love is a defensive liability, we must remember that in his Minnesota days Love was a premier rebounder. Draymond Green and Festus Ezeli can handle defensive chores in the lane, particularly if the Warriors design their D when Love is on the floor to funnel players towards the basket. So even if Love brings a hole to Golden State’s stout defense, there are things that can be done about that.
What Love can bring to the team is yet another viable and dangerous offensive weapon from both outside and inside–almost a knock-off version of Durant–who will insure against those nights, or even mid-game stretches, when one or both of the Splashers is off his game. It doesn’t happen too often, but against the best teams, if Curry and/or Thompson are taken away by the opposing defense, the Warriors offense flounders. Having Love to go to would help defeat that. And, again, there’s the rebounding, a phase of the game that often hurts the Warriors.
Some will read this and try to match these ideas up with what they’ve witnessed of Love in the Finals, and they may be tempted to dismiss the idea that Love can be much of a contributor anymore. But remember, playing with LeBron James–especially as the third man down the totem pole–is not as easy as you might think. Chris Bosh was a better player in Toronto than in Miami, largely because he had to subsume parts of his game to defer to James. Similarly, getting Love away from the failed experiment of being James’s wingman should help him bounce back, too.
And remember this: the Warriors actually wanted Love before last season. They were set to make a trade that would have brought Love to the Warriors in exchange for Klay Thompson. A championship or two later, they’re definitely glad they didn’t make that trade then–but they still might be up for getting Love now, especially since the price in players probably won’t nearly be so dear.
It won’t necessarily happen. Some other team might swoop in and make the Cavs a better offer for Love. There’s been some chatter that David West is not going to be back with the Spurs, so San Antonio might make a play for Love. And there’s perpetual talk about Love (and a host of other players, for that matter) joining the Celtics. But keep the Warriors on the radar when it’s time for Cleveland to move him; it makes more sense than it seems.