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Jun 19

Melo to Warriors a Better Fit Than Love?

THE POSSIBILITIES ARE ENDLESS, THE LIKELY SCENARIOS ARE NOT

 

Stephen Curry fires up a 3 point shot, as David Lee hinders Carmelo Anthony's  shot contest.

Stephen Curry fires up a 3 point shot, as David Lee hinders Carmelo Anthony’s shot contest.

 

Now in the offseason of the NBA, its fantasy time.  What free agents are available that could make the team better, and which ones are literally pipe dreams?  Every player on the Miami Heat could be a free agent this summer except Norris Cole, who is the only player without an option to be decided upon to be on the payroll for next season. (see: http://www.nbcnews.com/news/sports/heat-are-favorites-win-2015-nba-title-n132651).  The thoughts of Lebron James or even Chris Bosh joining the team by the bay are enticing.  I would even love to see Ray Allen lending his Hall of Fame marksmanship to our youngsters, Curry and Thompson.  Sadly, I take the lead from major media when it comes to rumors, and there is no talk of Heat castaways landing with the Warriors.  It could be an interesting road to go down, but until players show interest in a different team verbally at a minimum, it’s best to treat those ideas as unlikely.

 

The Timberwolves hope they can recover from the loss of the next big man, Kevin Love, better than they did when Kevin Garnett left them in 2007.

The Timberwolves hope they can recover from the loss of the next big man, Kevin Love, better than they did when Kevin Garnett left them in 2007.

 

 THE KEVIN LOVE-FEST

 

A certain Superstar on a bad team in the frigid tundra of Minnesota, with the harsh luck of never making the playoffs, has verbally shown interest in the team by the bay.  Kevin Love, all 6’10” and 260 lbs of him, has narrowed down his favored destinations to two cities, Chicago and their Bulls, and Oakland and our Warriors.  There is a great feeling as a fan when a player of his caliber looks to our city, the much maligned Oakland, and considers us a potential new home.

Love, a scheduled free agent in the Summer of 2015, has informed the Minnesota Timberwolves he will not sign another contract with the team.  He, like many  before him, most recently Dwight Howard, has the ability to force the team to trade him sometime between now and up to the February 2015 trade deadline, else lose him to free agency with no compensation.  During this Summer, rumors are swirling fast.  The Timberwolves stated early in the process, Love will not be traded this summer, and will start next season a member of the Timberwolves.  That is not bad news for the Warriors, as they can continue to develop and evaluate their players under new Head Coach Steve Kerr.  It would be beneficial for them, for this to drag all the way to the February trade deadline.

I find it very interesting that the NBA is the only one of the 4 major US professional sports leagues that does not offer any kind of compensatory draft picks to a franchise that loses a top player.  Compensatory picks are part of systems in the NFL, NHL, and MLB that prevents these drawn out “trade me” demands and speculation.  Of course, this very speculation is part of the charm of the NBA.

For a player of Love’s caliber, it’s going to take a haul of players and/or draft picks in return to aid the Timberwolves in rebuilding and being as competitive as possible in the short term.  This franchise appears very unsure and concerned about Love’s future.  It certainly is understandable, as in the Summer of 2007, Kevin Garnett was traded from Minnesota to Boston.  The Timberwolves went from a team that made the Western Conference Finals in 2004 with a great player in Garnett as their anchor in the middle, to a team that couldn’t make the playoffs with him giving his all in each of the next 3 years. That 2004 3rd round exit is the last time the team made the playoffs.  Serious mismanagement is the culprit according to many Timberwolves fans.

It is a reasonable viewpoint considering how much they curse “the wrath of (David) Kahn.”  In consecutive drafts, ’09 and ’10, Kahn was responsible for passing up Stephen Curry, Brandon Jennings, Ty Lawson, Jrue Holiday, Greg Monroe, Demarcus Cousins, and Paul George.  The players he selected instead were Johnny Flynn and Wes Johnson.  On draft day, he has traded Chandler Parsons and Mario Chalmers away.  Of course, there was the Darko Milicic issue.  Somehow, the Timberwolves ended up with the second overall pick of the greatest draft in recent memory in trade.  Included in that top 5 draft class were Lebron James, Dwayne Wade, Carmelo Anthony, and Chris Bosh.  The Timberwolves got the other one, Darko.  They really seemed to believe he was the second coming of Vlade Divac.

What does this all mean?  Now that Khan is out, and the team has come close to respectability, someone has to wonder if current triggerman and coach Flip Saunders can recreate some of the magic he presided over during his first stint as Timberwolves Head Coach.  The problem is, that coincided with Garnett growing up in the league and anchoring the Timberwolves.  Now, Love is on his way out the door.  Who is there now for the team to lean on as it’s anchor, the leader?  Timberwolves fans are bracing for the team to get fleeced in the upcoming Love deal. As I wrote above, they stated Love will not be traded before the start of the season, and now, rumors are going full bore that Minnesota is in talks with the Celtics, Nuggets, Warriors and the Bulls.

 

MELO AND THE WARRIORS: A SQUARE PEG AND A ROUND HOLE.

Considering the difficulty, some media members have looked elsewhere to bolster the Warriors squad.  The next major Superstar potentially on the move is Carmelo Anthony, currently of the New York Knicks.

There have been some in the NBA media who have suggested Carmelo Anthony would be a better option than Kevin Love.  Though both are difficult to see coming to our Warriors without major roster changes, it’s fantasy time, and there is much fun to be had in weighing the possibilities.  I had a strong reaction to one of these Melo to the Warriors articles found on Warriorsworld.net about a month ago.  Here is the link:

http://www.warriorsworld.net/2014/05/23/is-carmelo-anthony-is-a-better-option-for-golden-state-than-kevin-love/

This article is an interesting take.  The recommendation is that Melo who is 6’8″ and 235 lbs, would replace Lee who is 6’9″ and 240lbs as the starting Power Forward.  To begin with, Lee is undersized at the Power Forward position, and the idea is to get smaller with Melo.  I understand and appreciate the stretch – 4 idea, and we have seen it work well with smaller Power Forwards like Harrison Barnes, really playing out of position here, and also Draymond Green in the playoffs.   The article went into depth about Melo’s offensive numbers as a Power Forward.  He happens to mirror Love’s offensive production reasonably well on all levels, save rebounding, where Love outperforms Melo and the average Power Forward for that matter by a nice margin.  Interestingly, there was no discussion of Melo’s defensive numbers in the article.  I’m not going to search that out here, as it is common sense that Melo has issues defending the post against larger Power Forwards.To me, he makes sense only as a Small Forward on the Warriors, with Andre Iguodala moving to the Shooting Guard and Klay Thompson coming off the bench. I could see the reverse, Iguodala moving to the bench as a second unit facilitator, but Thompson gives the bench a more valuable addition as a go-to scorer and Iguodala has a chance to facilitate between Melo and Curry, while somehow keeping both happy.  A Power Forward free agent signing such as Paul Millsap or Kris Humphries would be necessary.  It just doesn’t work having Melo guard Blake Griffin, Lamarcus Aldridge, or heaven forbid Kevin Love.

Melo as the Small Forward is not a bad idea to explore and could be feasible.  Trading Lee for younger pieces in a salary dump with Orlando could give us young players like Mo Harkless, Tobias Harris, Andrew Nicholson and/or Kyle O’Quinn.  Arron Afflalo has been rumored to the Warriors in some trade rumors, and if Klay Thompson were included in any deal, Afflalo would be a cheaper veteran option to replace Klay.  I have seen some three team trade rumors, the kinds of deals that typically get done, with Orlando facilitating a trade between the Timberwolves and Warriors.  Many of the above players swap teams to Minnesota or Golden State, and Orlando has the ability to send Minnesota draft picks that we can’t.  This same idea can work for the Knicks if Melo comes back this way in a sign and trade.  Somehow in all of this, it is likely that the Warriors would want to talk Melo into a less than max contract, to be able to still field a competitive team around him and Curry.

The author describes sending Lee and Barnes for a second rounder and a Traded Player Exemption to Orlando or Philadelphia, as well as the potential of trading Iguodala or Andrew Bogut to free up even more cap room.

This sounds something like the deal we used to clear cap to sign Iguodala last summer, except it is much more difficult.  We sent Utah draft picks to help them accept it, and the contracts sent over were all expiring. The Lee plus others salary dump isn’t exactly likely.  Lee is owed approximately $30 million over the next two years.  This is a completely different scenario and much tougher to do than the Utah salary dump.  Of course Lee could have some value as a high post scorer and roll man.  Both Orlando and Philadelphia utilize centers with shooting range and have no great options for starting Power Forwards.  This makes Lee’s offensive style of making cuts from the high post to low post a perfect compliment for either team offensively.  Defensively, Lee wouldn’t fare terribly in either case, as the Eastern Conference has a lack of powerful big men, unlike the Western Conference, as I will discuss more.

I just can’t see tying up the cap space for Melo that it’s likely going to require and still need to fill the power forward spot with a body.  Once again, Melo as a Power Forward in the Western Conference isn’t going to cut it rebounding or on the defensive end.  It could work against Dirk Nowitzki or similar perimeter oriented Power Forwards such as Pheonix’s Morris twins and Channing Frye.  Against  other starting Power Forwards, Melo will get handled the way Lee gets handled trying to bang with 7 footers all game long when he is misused out of position as the Center.  The majority of the best and biggest Power Forwards all reside in the West, including Lamarcus Aldridge, Blake Griffin, Tim Duncan, Derrick Favors, Serge Ibaka, and of course, Love.  Everyone of these big men stand at least 6’10” tall, 2 full inches taller than Melo and have the brute strength to wipe the floor with him.

In the end, I think the only way this  really works is a sign and trade that puts the Warriors well above the Salary Cap and into Luxury Tax repeater area.

Starters
Curry, Iguodala, Melo(FA), Humphries (FA), Bogut.
Bench
Mario Chalmers (FA), Jordan Crawford (FA bring him back), Thompson, Speights, Festus Ezeli.

I don’t love that team.  Chalmers, I came up with without really looking at the FA Point Guards available, but he’s likely to be the caliber of player that runs the team off the bench.

 

In closing, there is no place for Melo on the Warriors, for the reasons of the salary cap hell it would likely cause, moving Iguodala and Thompson out of their roles, and weakening the frontcourt strengths of rebounding and defense.

No worries… I am setting up a Kevin Love scenario article that I will be posting soon.

The Fraz

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