News that Kevin Love is impatient and may want out of Minnesota if they don't make the playoffs got me thinking - If the Warriors ownership is really willing to pay the luxury tax to put together a legit contender, I think we might be able to bring in Love or a different disgruntled superstar after this coming season. A little context for my thinking:
If I understand correctly, the new collective bargaining agreement says that the max contract is highest if you sign after you hit free agency, but re-sign with the team that holds your Bird rights. Rather than make it more likely for Superstars to re-sign with their original teams, this seems to have created a perverse incentive for unhappy superstars to plan ahead and force a trade a year before free agency rather than wait till free agency to leave like LeBron. The player wants to change teams, AND they want the max allowable contract, so the best way to do this is to force a trade without agreeing to an extension, play your contract out until it expires, and then re-sign with the team that has your Bird Rights.
We've already seen this at work with D-Will and the Nets, and we're most of the way there with CP3 (he hasn't re-signed with the Clips yet, but he's got a huge monetary incentive to do so after this season.) Dwight Howard is still on step 1 but he's following the same plan. That being the case, it seems that trading is now a better way to acquire a superstar than clearing cap space for free agency (see Dallas Mavericks).
So, operating under the assumption that our future core needs a superstar, and no one on our roster is likely to become one, how can we trade for one?
Teams starting a rebuild by moving a star player usually look for one or more of these 4 things in return: Freeing up cap space, replacing some of the departed player's production, young talent on rookie contracts, future draft picks. During the 2013 offseason we could offer the T-Wolves or another team all 4 of these.
1) Cap space:
Usually involves taking back bad long term contracts by either using space under the cap (which we won't have) or sending out shorter bad contracts (which we will have). By including both Biedrins and Jefferson in the trade we could take back Love and another contract. After 2014 the Wolves would have $20mil coming off their cap.
2) David Lee is a player that can replace some or most of the production that Love provides:
It's very possible the Wolves would want a full rebuild with no long term contracts coming back, but if they wanted to reload, then Lee is actually a decent option. He does the same things, just not as well.
3) Young talent on rookie contracts:
One of Klay or Harrison Barnes could be included in the trade. The better these guys play, the more attractive they are, but even if they don't set the world on fire, I would guess both are likely to have significant trade value next offseason.
4) Future draft picks.
Assuming we don't luck into a top 6 lottery pick, our 2013 1st rounder finally goes to Utah. But once the draft is over, that would mean that we no longer have restrictions on trading our future draft picks. After the 2013 draft I believe we would be able to include our 2014 1st round pick, or 2014 and 2016 if we needed to send multiple 1sts.
I don't think it should take all of this to get Kevin Love, but the point is that if he does hit the trade market next offseason, we would be very flexible in the type of package we could put together since we would have something to offer in every category. We would at minimum still have Bird rights to Curry and Bogut (when his contract expires), giving us the huge inside tracks to keeping them, plus Love or whichever player we can acquire, plus one of Klay/Barnes. I think that could be the basis of a legitimate contender.
So what are the chances that KLove actually hits the trade market next offseason? If not him, then are there any other superstars that might become available via trade? Who would you guys be interested in?
I think next offseason is the time we have to strike. Once our expiring contracts actually expire they stop being useful trade assets, and any cap space we are left with is unlikely to get us a superstar unless we can acquire their Bird Rights first..
What do you guys think - Are we going to be making big moves next offseason?