May 22, 2014, 11:44 AM EDT
It wouldn’t be so great for David Lee, currently the Warriors’ starting power forward.
That – and the fact the 31-year-old Lee probably wouldn’t intrigue the Timberwolves much beyond his ability to make salaries match – explains why Golden State is reportedly exploring Lee trades
The Warriors have tried to move David Lee in the past. But it needed to be a no-brainer in order for them to pull the trigger. But now, per a couple league sources, the Warriors have lowered the bar realizing they’ve got to come off that contract so they can go after a co-star for Stephen Curry. Plus, with Steve Kerr acknowledging he wants a stretch-four, which Lee is not, the writing is really on the wall for Lee.
I’ve been told to watch out for Orlando as a potential trade partner for Golden State. They have cap space and after a second consecutive year finishing way down in the Eastern Conference standings, they need to make a move. They might be a taker for David Lee for the same reasons the Warriors were back in 2010: they need someone who can produce reliably and usher the franchise into respectability.
The Warriors might not want to trade Klay Thompson, but if they want Love, they might have to. It’s difficult to create a package including neither Thompson nor Stephen Curry, who’s not going anywhere, and tempt Minnesota.
So, not only would a Love-to-Golden State probably leave a hole at shooting guard, it would create a surplus of power forwards.
The Magic could easily have as much as $26 million in cap space this offseason. It will be difficult for them, coming off back-to-back miserable seasons, to attract a free agent better than Lee, and they have to reach the team-salary floor.
So, this could be a good opportunity for Orlando to pluck Lee. Lee’s contract ($15,012,000 in 2014-15 and $15,493,680 in 2015-16) isn’t so costly that the Magic can request a sweetener from Golden State, but Lee’s salary certainly lowers his value.
On the plus side, Lee is still good enough to boost Orlando’s play. Maybe he can even have an Al Jefferson-like impact.
But the Magic trading the cheaper Afflalo for Lee wouldn’t really be taking advantage of their advantageous position. They should do better in the end, but Afflalo-for-Lee can be a starting point.
And then there’s Golden State’s side.
Curry and Lee, teammates the last four seasons, have an excellent offensive chemistry. Knowing where each other will be, they have the confidence to whip passes back and forth – creating space that way. The Warriors shouldn’t throw that away just to chase a stretch four who spaces the floor more traditionally through outside shooting.
But Love isn’t just any stretch four.
If the Warriors have to trade Thompson and take a loss on a separate Lee trade – either giving up more to get Afflalo or accepting less from Orlando – that could very much be worth it.
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