Minnesota Timberwolves star Kevin Love has reportedly asked for a trade out of the twin cities or he will leave via free agency come next summer. This however is by far the worst kept secret in the NBA. Wolves brass has gone on to say that they are at the very least, unwilling to trade the T-Wolves star before the NBA Draft. But will they keep their word? That remains to be seen. However, if Love is adamant about a trade, who would be the potential suitors? The Wolves will field numerous calls from various teams, various mom's, dad's, uncle's, as well as second and third cousin's, regarding Love's services and what it may take to pry him away from the team that acquired him in a draft day trade.
Let's take a look at who, what, and where Mr. Love can potentially find himself living and playing next year:
This one seems pretty obvious. He is a west coast body. Went to college and made a name for himself at UCLA. A chance to call LA home again for the 25 year old forward I'm sure would be a dream come true. But in all honesty, is the guy going to want to play for a team that doesn't have too much to offer in terms of a team outside of a breaking down Kobe Bryant and that contract? And in what in God's green earth is Minnesota going to want in return for Love? A kings ransom I'd say and even then, it wouldn't be nearly enough. You could look at a deal centering the 7th pick, future picks, Pau Gasol, Nick Young, and a ton more and even if a deal can be constructed, the Lake show will be bad again in 2014-2015. Does he instantly make them better? Sure, but it won't be nearly enough to stop the Thunder, Rockets, Blazers, and oh yeah, the San Antonio AARP's. I mean Spurs.
This one lately has picked up some steam. It does make some sense but in terms of talent, what would the Bulls have to give up? There isn't going to be a way around keep draft picks no matter what kind of trade can be pulled off for Love. The team itself as it's constructed, is already playoff caliber without injured superstar Derrick Rose. Team MVP Joakim Noah had a league MVP caliber season, carrying the Bulls into a playoff position, where they eventually lost in the first round. But back to what it would take to land Love. If the Bulls don't have to give up too much of an already good roster, adding Love would make them a top 3 team in a weak Eastern Conference. The Bulls own two picks in the first round (16 and 19), have young talent on the roster that could entice the T-Wolves to pounce. Expect both first rounders, Taj Gibson, Jimmy Butler, and Carlos Boozer to be the center pieces of a potential deal. This deal has legs.
Rumored to be one of the team's making the hardest push to land Love, the Celtics have more to offer the T-Wolves as far as assets. Coming off a year that saw them (which the should have never done. But what the hell do I know, I'm just an idiot writing a blog about a guy and more guys) trade Hall of Famer Paul Pierce, as well as Kevin Garnett, win a robust 25 games, watch the return of Rondo (sort of), only to watch the ping pong balls punch them below the belt, take a piece of their cake and eat it right in their faces, and land the 6th pick in the draft. Boston was in a rebuild year, but how long will that last? If they truly wanted, they could easily turn last year upside down within seconds. Receiving draft pick compensation from the Clippers in the Doc Rivers trade, the Brooklyn Nets, and their own pick, the Celtics own 9 first round draft picks in the next 5 years. That's already enough to make a General Manager drool. Draft picks have become a very valuable commodity over the last 10 years or so. The Celtics already have young talent on the roster in Jared Sullinger and Kelly Olynyk that appeal to the T-Wolves. Roy Hibbert was quoted as saying "Jared Sullinger is becoming the Kevin Love of the East" and he wasn't wrong. The tenacity on the boards will be huge if he is included in such a deal. Not too much will fall off as far as production other then points per game, as Sullinger averaged 14 a game this season. They also have veterans on the roster that make top dollar to help make such a deal work in Gerald Wallace's disaster of a contract, Jeff Green, as well as Brandon Bass. The question Love will have to ask himself is, will Rondo be willing to stay if he commits long term. If they land Love, it can only help. Love may be the beginning to more deals the Celtics make. Look for a deal to be centered around Sullinger, Green or Bass, and multiple first round picks. This one makes the most sense for the T-Wolves if they want to build up young talent.
A dark horse this off-season, the Suns could quietly sneak in to trade talks with the Wolves. Phoenix also has some young assets in the Morris brothers, contracts in Emeka Okafor and Channing Frye, and lets not forget, three first round draft picks. If for whatever reason Minnesota lands these picks, that would give them 4 first round picks, some of which can be used to move up into the draft, to nab a player such as Aaron Gordon. They don't have a ton of assets as far as players, but they have a few that could entice the T-Wolves to potentially give up the Love. Should the Suns land Love, they could form a very solid big three in Goran Dragic, Eric Bledsoe, and Love. With Gerald Green coming of the bench for instant offense, Phoenix would only have to find a few core players to fill in much needed gaps in what would become a crazy Western Conference. A rim protector would be something Phoenix would look to add. Look for a deal to be centered around one or both Morris brothers, all three first rounders, and expiring contracts.
Cleveland is another dark horse candidate to land Love. The Cavs found themselves at the center of the NBA Draft Lottery robbery last week. Stealing the first pick away from likes of the 76ers, Bucks, Lakers, and Celtics (a story that can be read here http://afterfurtherreview.sportsblog.com/posts/577108/cavs_win_2014_nba_draft.html). Should Cleveland's interest be legitimate, they have to be willing to trade the 1st pick as that's what Minnesota is going to be adamant about receiving. If Cleveland parts with that pick for Love, you can look at a former Cav and Ohio native rejoining the fray (I think you know whom I speak of). All of this is completely possible and should this happen, look for Cleveland go from damn near the Eastern Conference doormat to an Eastern Conference juggernaut. If this trade is worked out, look also for Kyrie Irving to re-up on a max contract deal, as well as Love. Look for a deal to be centered around the first pick, Anderson Varajao, and contracts.
Golden State Warriors
A trade that makes the most sense on paper. The Warriors have NBA talent ready at the disposal of this trade. New Warriors head coach Steve Kerr has already gone out on a limb and told reports that he is looking for a stretch forward, without naming any names. Kevin Love fits that mold perfectly. The Warriors have good players and contracts to trade. One name being thrown out there is Power Forward David Lee. Lee doesn't fit the mold of a stretch Power Forward, but he is a very serviceable player. A double-double machine, Lee averaged 18 points and 12 rebounds per game for a vaunted Warriors team that could score at will and Lee was right in the middle of it. Lee could fill in fairly well for the Love-less Wolves, playing with a pass first point guard will help those stats but certainly won't help them get into the playoffs. The Warriors on the other hand because even scarier on paper. A Lee and more for Love deal is an absolute win for a Warriors team that could score with the best of them, that could score 10 points in the time it takes for you to get off the couch, scream at your wife or husband real quick, go to the fridge to grab a cold beverage, and come back. Yeah, that good. Should they strike a deal, look out NBA. Look for a deal to be centered around David Lee, Draymon Green, and future picks.
The final team I have listed in "who, what, where:" is another dark horse team. This time, the Clippers. This one kind of comes out of left field but it makes some sense.They have the NBA assets in players and they have a first round pick this year and future picks. While it is difficult to see Love landing on the Clippers, it does make some sense in the fact that the Clippers can give the Wolves some NBA ready talent and contract. Such players could include the likes of DeAndre Jordan, Jared Dudley, Jamal Crawford, JJ Redick, Matt Barnes, for starters. No the Clippers would not give up that much, but they have talent to make a trade remotely reasonable. The first round pick is low, but this is a deep draft. Who knows who could fall to them at that point. Look for a deal to be centered around DeAndre Jordan, Jamal Crawford and 1st round picks.
All in all, there are no shortage of suitors for Love's services. Most of these teams will be interested but it will be more interesting to see if they let Love pick a destination or if they trade him to the team who offers the most or if they even trade them at all. But if I'm Minny, I'm not being left alone at the restaurant dinner table because my date left me. I'm leaving while I'm ahead and taking what I can before I have to pay the bill...
What do you think, 'Merica? Where does K. Love land?
I want your input!
Keep your eyes peeled for the next Who, What, Where: