FanPost

The Case for Trading Kevin Love: A FanPost by Shogun and Andy G

What should the Wolves do with Al Jefferson and Kevin Love? Although most speculation has centered around Jefferson (see much of this comments section), we want to consider the possibility of trading Kevin Love.

Why trade Love? First and most importantly, Jefferson is currently the Timberwolves' best player. He is the only player on the roster who has the talent to be a top flight star in the NBA. Second, Jefferson and Love play the same position, and the high-low complement that Kevin McHale envisioned has not looked promising thus far, with Love struggling on the perimeter and struggling to get his shot off on the rare occasion when he gets the ball in the low post. Third, Jefferson's ceiling is higher. He currently averages 22 points and 11 rebounds, his defense is improving, and he is already close to becoming an All-Star.  Love's ceiling, on the other hand, appears to be a top flight "glue guy" and elite rebounder. Those are good qualities, but they're less attractive than what Jefferson brings to the table.  Fourth, there are concerns about Kevin Love's body composition that suggest he will struggle to stay healthy, well-conditioned, and athletic enough to be an impact player of any significant value in the long-term. By NBA power forward standards, he is soft, with big legs that do not move around with any grace. Rather than having a lean body that will mature-well as he gets older, Love already looks like an old player whose body might wear down much sooner than most. If this happens, he could end up struggling in the low post even more in the future, as his body deteriorates. To be fair, Jefferson is no Dwight Howard - notice his "cankles" - but  he can spin, slide and jump with a lot more ease than Love can and will be able to navigate the low post effectively even as his athleticism diminishes further with age. Add to that the couple inches of height that Al has on Love, and the long-term potential of the two players appears to differ about as much as their current value does, with Jefferson being the much-better short--and long-term prospect.

Although trading Kevin Love would be akin to admitting the failure of the draft day trade of O.J. Mayo, the move might be the team's best chance to recoup some of the value that he still has around the NBA.  He was, after all, a Top 5 pick and Pac-10 Player of the Year in 2007-08. Also, his 15-rebound games, which were helped in part by rebounding a handful of his own stuffed attempts, look good on paper and could potentially lure a willing GM into a favorable trade for the Wolves. And now that Kevin McHale has been relieved of his personnel duties, Jim Stack & Fred Hoiberg may have the flexibility to explore trade possibilities for players brought in by McHale, which never would have happened with McHale still in his job as VP of Basketball Operations.

Trading a rookie less than halfway into his first season would not be unprecedented. 40 games into his rookie season, Donyell Marshall was traded by Kevin McHale for Tom Gugliotta. Marshall struggled in those 40 games and did not appear to be the kind of NBA player the Timberwolves' management had expected when they drafted him. After being traded, Marshall never went on to play an integral role on a winning team or to make an All-Star team. Gugliotta became an integral part of the Wolves resurgence, an All-Star in 1997, and arguably the Wolves' best player until he left as a free agent in 1998.

Could the Wolves make a similar deal, trading another rookie who appears not to fit in? What could they get? Below we suggest some possible trades. We want to emphasize that these are not substantiated rumors. We simply considered trades that might be realistic possibilities and also help the Timberwolves' long-term prospects. Each of these trades involves a trading partner who is rumored to be interested in trading at least one of the named players, or one player who reportedly wants to be traded. Each trade involving Love also involves Mike Miller, who at 28 years old does not realistically figure into the Timberwolves' long-term strategic plans. Some of the trades involve Minnesota dealing a "1st Round Pick."  With up to four in the 2009 Draft, that could mean the best one, or the worst one, depending on what is coming in return.  Also, each trade "works" on the ESPN Trade Machine:

Clippers

Kevin Love and Mike Miller

for

Eric Gordon and Chris Kaman

Trail Blazers

Kevin Love and Mike Miller

for

Jerryd Bayless, Martell Webster, and Joel Pryzbilla

Mavericks

Kevin Love, Mike Miller, and 1st Round Pick

for

Josh Howard and Antoine Wright

Wizards

Kevin Love, Mike Miller, and 1st Round Pick

for

Caron Butler and Brendan Haywood

Warriors

Randy Foye, Mike Miller, Kevin Love, and 1st Round Pick

for

Monta Ellis, Anthony Randolph, Ronny Turiaf, and CJ Watson

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