When last we met, I pondered the possibility of Kevin Love being sent packing from Cleveland, with the Golden State Warriors being a very sensible landing spot for him. The biggest fly in that ointment, according to that analysis, would be making the dollars match on a trade that would bring Love’s hefty contract to the Dubs. Whomever the Warriors would give up to pry Love away from the Cavs, there wouldn’t be enough contract going to Ohio to make the deal workable.
Enter the increasingly expendable Harrison Barnes.
Barnes has been a mostly good player for the Warriors, and even performed well early in this year’s Finals, but in the last two games he has been dreadful. Add to that the fact that “mostly good” is not what the Golden State brain trust has been expecting from their former first round pick, and the fact that the Warriors thrived when Barnes was hurt earlier this season (with the otherwise unaccomplished Brandon Rush filling in for him), and that it was for Barnes’ sake that Andre Iguodala got pushed out of the starting lineup in the first place…let’s just say, it’s all a rich tapestry that depicts a restricted free agent that the Warriors would probably be willing to let go this off-season.
So both the Warriors and Cavs seem to have frontcourt players whom they would like to get rid of. One is locked up in a long-term and expensive contract, the other is a restricted free agent who has not exactly been driving up his value with his most recent efforts. How do they move for each other?
Obvious: as previously suggested, you work out the terms of the trade to send Andrew Bogut to the Cavaliers–and use a sign-and-trade to give Barnes as much money as is needed to make the contracts match and ship him along with the big Aussie to bring Love to the Bay Area.
It would be a good move for Barnes, because he’d get a contract that he has otherwise not earned. Plus he’d get to go play alongside LeBron James and Kyrie Irving, thus no scoring pressure on him (very much like with the Warriors and Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson), and alongside Tristan Thompson (and possibly Bogut, assuming he keeps playing) so no rebounding pressure, either. Barnes would simply be free to play small forward and do whatever he can to justify his position, which should be fairly easy on a team like Cleveland (again, as with Golden State).
Barnes also came to the Warriors from Iowa (where he grew up) and North Carolina (college); Cleveland is neither of those places, but it’s closer to either one, if Barnes has a geographical preference for where he spends his time besides California.
Which brings us to another point in favor of the Warriors going and getting Love (which I left out of the previous post): he grew up in Oregon and played college ball at UCLA, in SoCal where he has family ties. Again, the Bay Area is neither of those places, but it’s a lot closer than Northeastern Ohio. For both players, such a deal would bring them closer to where they grew up and went to college, which may not be a consideration for Barnes, but was suggested as meaningful for Love, at least, in previous discussions.
Will this trade happen? Don’t know–but the more I look at it, the more it makes a lot of sense. We’ll see how much sense it makes to the teams and the players this summer.