Love-Thompson trade too good to pass up

Blockbuster deals don’t come around too often. That’s why they are called blockbusters in the first place.

In what could have been the latest mammoth trade in the NBA, the Golden State Warriors and Minnesota Timberwolves were trying to agree on a deal for the all-star power forward Kevin Love. Talks included former Cougar Klay Thompson, who was the Warriors’ second-highest scorer last season. The shooting guard averaged more than 18 points per game and started 81 games for the Warriors during the 2013-14 season.

However, the latest news is that the deal is dead, according to a tweet from Ric Bucher. In addition to Thompson, the Warriors would have sent power forward David Lee and a future first-round pick. In return, Golden State would have received Love plus shooting guard Kevin Martin. The Los Angeles Lakers were also reportedly in the mix to acquire Thompson as a part of a three-way deal, but it would have been an extremely smart move for the Warriors and Timberwolves to trade straight-up.

Despite the recognizable names written all over the deal, this trade seemed like a no-brainer. Passing up a deal like this is ludicrous, especially because Bucher added in his tweet that Love probably will not be traded before the NBA draft on Thursday. The Warriors would not be losing much in terms of production. In fact, they would be receiving an upgrade.

Beyond that, trading before the draft changes the entire strategy of selecting players, and swapping superstars like Love and Thompson makes the draft that much easier when deciding how to build a team around such players.

Love averaged 26.1 points per game last season, along with 12.5 rebounds, and he was the star of a team that was mediocre at best. Meanwhile, the Warriors are on the rise, finishing 51-31 last season, which gives Love not only more motivation to earn a championship, but also more support. This could have been the best offer the Timberwolves would have received, and the Warriors would be walking away like bandits.

Without a deal, Love could opt out of the final year of his contract and become a free agent in 2015, according to Bleacher Report’s website. That would leave the Timberwolves empty-handed when they could have had something much greater.

This deal looked like a basic exchange of power forwards and shooting guards. Sending Lee away for Love was easily justified because Love averaged about eight more points, three more rebounds and, best of all, fewer fouls per game than Lee last season.

The less attractive part, on which the Warriors were hung up, is the trade of Thompson for Martin. Yet even this was not too bad of a deal in the grand scheme of the future. The Warriors would have Love, and they would have retained Stephen Curry, who led the team in points per game during both the regular season and the postseason. That was all done from the point guard position, from which he averaged 8.5 assists per game for the team.

Beyond that, Martin outscored Thompson last season by less than a point per game, which is marginal, but Martin’s track record shows he can make buckets consistently, plain and simple. At 31 years-old, Martin holds a career average of 17.9 points per game, thanks in part to last season’s average of 19.1.

The Timberwolves will benefit if they receive Thompson. While the Warriors might have been the winners in the trade, the Timberwolves still would have been happy with Thompson. He is durable, starting all 82 games for the Warriors a year ago, which is an impressive feat. Thompson was the second-best scorer on a playoff contender last season and has improved the amount of points he has scored in each of his three years in the league.

He is particularly a sharpshooter from beyond the three-point arc, making over 40 percent of his attempts from long distance, which was good for 11th in the NBA last season.

Once the draft passes, different teams will need different pieces to improve before next year. The Timberwolves and Warriors just allowed the latest blockbuster trade to fall through. Unfortunately, it would have benefited both sides.

Now Love may never get traded. Instead, he will walk away from the Timberwolves organization during free agency, leaving Minnesota without any compensation and making the Warriors wish they had snatched him up when they had the chance.