May 1, 2014; Oakland, CA, USA; Golden State Warriors forward David Lee (10) lays on the ground after being called for a foul against the Los Angeles Clippers in the fourth quarter in game six of the first round of the 2014 NBA Playoffs at Oracle Arena. The Warriors defeated the Clippers 100-99. Mandatory Credit: Cary Edmondson-USA TODAY Sports

David Lee's Surgery Could Prevent Warriors From Acquiring Kevin Love

David Lee has been a Golden State Warriors fan favorite for quite some time. Since signing with the team in 2010 following an All-Star season with the New York Knicks, the 31-year-old double-double machine has posted up in people’s hearts and remained there through thick and thin. Despite more professional, established analysts constantly reminding fans of Lee’s defensive deficiencies and deteriorating effectiveness overall, a good chunk of DubNation has stood fast and loyal to the 6-foot-9-inch power forward out of Florida.

But after undergoing a recent surgery to repair a core muscle in the big man’s pelvic region — which could basically pull the Warriors out of contention for superstar Kevin Love – all of that could change.

This is the third consecutive offseason in which Lee was forced to undergo surgery. In 2012, he underwent surgery to repair torn abdominal and abductor muscles. In 2013, he memorably tore his right hip flexor for which he received surgery, rendering him almost useless in Golden State’s most successful playoff run since 2007.

While his most recent surgery is reportedly “very minor,” the fact of that matter is that Lee’s string of injuries is nothing to take lightly. In addition, everyone remembers how Andrew Bogut had reportedly gone through “minor” anthroscopic surgery to clean out “loose particles and bone spurs” in his ankle, only to reveal later to Rusty Simmons of the San Francisco Chronicle that he had in fact undergone a much more serious microfracture procedure. Warriors head coach Steve Kerr says Lee is “fine,” but one should take that with a grain of salt.

Though the validity of how serious Lee’s most recent surgery is certainly a question worth exploring, the most important questions to ask right now are just how much the Minnesota Timberwolves knew of this and whether this effectively stalls — if not stops — the ongoing trade talks for Kevin Love.

According to Jon Krawczynski of Associated Press, trade talks between the Warriors and T-Wolves are considered to be re-opened as of Tuesday, initially reporting that the teams had re-engaged talks after arriving at the Las Vegas Summer League. Several reports cite the reasons why a deal has not yet been decided upon, some of which being Golden State’s hesitancy to take on Kevin Martin‘s $21.26M contract for the next three years in exchange for Klay Thompson. No reports yet as to whether Golden State has changed their stance on giving up their sharpshooting perimeter defender.

Mandatory Credit: Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

Yes, Minnesota undoubtedly wants Thompson, but Lee is a pivotal part of the deal as well. As Tim Kawakami of San Jose Mercury News put it, Lee is “not a value-add to the deal, but he’s not considered a stumbling block, by either team.” Both parties also understand Lee must be included in the deal for salary reasons.

Now with the news of Lee’s recent surgery making its way around, the Warriors have another obstacle preventing them from acquiring Love: why would Minnesota take back $35.5M over the next two years for a power forward past his prime and now prone to injury?

That’s an alarming amount of money to add to their salary, especially considering that Thompson will be up for a mighty expensive contract extension this fall. Taking back over $30M for a player that may spend a significant amount of time on the bench and even more time playing in the shell of a player he once was is not what Minnesota wants, let alone any team. David Lee is arguably no longer worth the money he’s being paid.

Plus, the Cleveland Cavaliers are now in the mix for Love with 2014 first overall pick Andrew Wiggins at the center of a possible deal. The Cavs also happen to be in the same boat as the Warriors, unwilling to part with the one piece Minnesota desires most.

Mandatory Credit: Richard Mackson-USA TODAY Sports

Lee was the cornerstone of a rebuilding franchise, a major building block in what Golden State has today. He’s still proven himself a productive player when he’s on the court, averaging 18.2 points, 9.3 rebounds and 2.1 assists last season. Unfortunately, players age, and their bodies wear down playing an 82-game schedule every year for roughly a decade. He was an All-Star once upon a time, but he’s now holding back the Warriors in more ways than one. If not for Love, the Warriors would be wise to find a landing spot for Lee soon.

Both Lee and teammate Andre Iguodala have withdrawn their names from the USA Men’s Basketball National Team training roster due to health issues. The team expects Lee to be fully recovered in early August.

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Tags: David Lee Golden State Warriors Kevin Love Klay Thompson NBA

  • Willy Grover

    this is a trash article. There is absolutely no evidence to support that the Timberwolves are now hesitant to pull the trigger due to Lee’s surgery, as he will still come back fully healthy before the season starts

    • Angelo Mendoza

      Hi Willy Grover. Thank you for the constructive criticism. Contrary to your comment, there is no actual evidence to support Lee WILL come back fully healthy before the season starts. Age is certainly against him, as well as the fact that he’s had to undergo three consecutive surgeries in the past three off seasons. This most recent injury could be related to the surgery he had last year, but it’s uncertain considering the team is unable to release personal health information barring an NBA sanctioned physical or investigation. You can’t 100% accurately predict the future, let alone if someone will come back healthy following a surgery to repair an injury. The point of the article was to have people question whether the Lee surgery COULD prevent a possible deal, per the title. Why would the T-Wolves take back $30M over the next two years for a power forward that has questions about his health? I also mentioned that the Cleveland Cavaliers arguably have a better deal on the table with Golden State hesitant to pull the trigger on Klay Thompson, and now the team has to deal with a Lee injury that could possibly be more serious than reported. That is two pieces Minnesota wants for Kevin Love, and now both are questionable. Nevertheless, I appreciate the comment. Cheers.

      • Kori Chun

        I agree. you can’t predict if DLee will come back 100% healthy, and he’s already had a lot of surgeries. and he’s 31 so he’s already past his youth. if I were the timberwolves, i’d rather take Wiggins for KLove than an injured Lee. so saying that there ain’t any evidence is dumb. you have to read in between the lines and use your head instead of just being a Dlee fan. great article

        • Angelo Mendoza

          Thank you for the comment Kori. I really appreciate the support and hope you continue to read our articles on Golden Gate Sports.