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The Day After: From KG to KL

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Well, what I first started talking about as a joke back in December, and what slowly turned into a dead serious take after completely underestimating, neglecting, and misinterpreting the guy's game, Kevin Love is on his way to the Wolves.  There are a few things to take note of regarding the trade:

1- What is the time line of the deal? 

At 7:24 Jerry Zgoda posted on his blog that Fred Hoiberg said the team was keeping Mayo.  Somewhere around 11:00, Jim Souhan made an ass of himself by saying that the Wolves were 100% right to take Mayo over Love.  He mentioned something about Love being paid in cheeseburgers.  He has since updated his terrible column (which is probably lost forever in its entirety) to read thusly in a column entitled "This deal will be OK unless Mayo becomes a superstar," which, funny, was a sentiment expressed numerous times last night during the time he still had his ridiculous column on line:

The Timberwolves late Thursday found a team willing to take Marko Jaric, Antoine Walker and Greg Buckner. This means there are NBA franchises in even worse shape than the Wolves -- in this case, the Memphis Grizzlies.

...

This could be a good deal, as long as O.J. Mayo doesn't someday remind us that the Wolves, on June 26, 2008, once traded a true scorer for a guy, in Love, who is best known for his outlet pass.

I thought he was known for getting paid in cheeseburgers.  Souhan cements his garbage take with this:

The only problem is this: The Wolves are notorious for taking the wrong guy in the draft. And trading Mayo, the consensus third-best player in the draft, for Love, who possesses some NBA skills but not necessarily NBA post size, has to scare anyone who has watched Kevin McHale & Company operate.

What a tired take.  Yes the Wolves have made mistakes in the past, but this year they have operated in a much different fashion (which has been given little play in outlets like the Strib) while making solid moves (Toine's deal from the Heat), clearing cap space, and playing their draft hand vis-a-vis the "genius" Riley like a world class poker champ.  Granted, Souhan was probably on a tight deadline after putting up his first stinker of the column, so he had to fall back on what works: bashing McHale and Company.  Nice. 

Anywho, it will be interesting to find out the time line of this deal and how Hoiberg, Stack, McHale, and Babcock all had a hand in it. 

2- Is Memphis still working on a deal? 

I'd like to believe that the insane trading of Chalmers to Miami is part of a larger 3-4 way deal that would, at the very least, send Mayo to Miami.  If not Miami, a team like Portland has all the assets in the world to either take part in a 4 way deal or to trade with the Grizz on their own. 

3- Losing Chalmers will end up being viewed as a worse loss than Mayo to Memphis.

Mario Chalmers is going to a loaded team without a point.  He's going to have wide open 3s as well as guys who can finish his assists.  The guy was the star on the greatest college team in the land.  He was their engine who had a high ppr, excellent ball handling skills, cool demeanor, amazing perimeter shooting, solid perimeter defense, and...well, the guy was everything the Wolves needed, wanted, got, had, and then gave away.  Someone needs to explain this deal.  All year long, Wolves fans (rightly) bitched and bitched and bitched about the team's lack of a true point and when they finally got one (who I ranked as the 2nd best point in the draft; and who others ranked as highly as 3), they moved him for cash and crap.  Mark my words: this will be viewed as the worst decision of the Wovles' 2008 Draft day.

4- The Wolves FO has accomplished its season's goals.

Back at the old site I ran a post about what a successful season would look like for the Wolves.  Aside from figuring out what to do with Foye, Shaddy, and Brewer (#3; mission still incomplete), the Wolves' top 2 needs were to 1, get rid of as many bad contracts as possible, and 2, to get as many ping-pong balls as possible. 

The Wolves found a way to utilize their limited resources to jettison each and every single one of their bad deals for 2 quality players (Mike Miller and Kevin Love), an expiring contract who can play center (Collins), and a bad contract that expires a year earlier than Marko (Cardinal--who can take the place of a guy like the Rhino) while clearing the books after the 09/10 season so that the Wolves can take a free agent run in a big free agent year.  Folks, they went from KG and a gang of big salaried nothings to a solid foundation with a good financial outlook in the span of a single season.  That has to account for something and the entire FO should be applauded for it.

5- OJ Mayo's value was a lot less across the league than most fans thought or believed.

It is no coincidence that the Clippers, Bucks, and Knicks got all hot and bothered for Mayo in the days before the draft.  These teams all grabbed players the Wolves had shown interest in and they appear to have feigned interest in Mayo so that the Wolves would not force their hand by taking their guy up top at 3 or in a trade down with Memphis at 5. 

If you add in the Heat (Riley wanted Beasley all along), Memphis appears to be the only team in the draft that valued Mayo as the pick of the 3-10 litter. 

This isn't a shot at the Wolves FO.  They did an excellent job (although the Chalmers non-pick really rubs me the wrong way) and they played their cards exactly they way they needed to.  However, Mayo was everybody's bluff player.  He was the guy folks talked about when they wanted to conceal their real draft intentions.  Also, while things could still change, the best GM in the league went up for Bayless, not OJ.  As much as I don't think Bayless will pan out, surely that has to count for something with OJ supporters. 

At the end of the day, perhaps the thing that Wolves fans should take some comfort in regarding Mayo is that even though the team blew it with Chalmers, Miami's 2nd round selection shows the league exactly how much they thought of Mayo's relative value compared to the soon-to-be-starting-for-Miami Jayhawk. Miami got their dream draft; a point and a scorer and they picked the 2 players that were, I believe, clearly ahead of both Mayo and Love.  I guess that's a little bit of silver lining in the loss of Chalmers: it's a pretty clear statement of what Riley thought of Mayo's ability to run the point next to Wade.  He got a guy who could do all the fancy things Mayo's supporters were promising in the 2nd round for some cash and a future pick or two.  Had the Wolves selected Mayo, they would have lost out to Miami on 2 fronts.  Love saved them that embarassment. 

6- Do the Wolves have a guarantee from Pekovic to come over?

This will be the big question of the draft.  While I love the Love trade, I'm very down on the Chalmers pick and I'm worried that Pekovic will never come over with the weak dollar and his current posh assignment.  If Pekovic doesn't work out, the Wolves will have blown a golden opportunity.  Not only will they have passed on players like CDR and Omer Asik, but they will have gotten nothing for picks that should have (and could have) easily mattered.  If Chalmers someday becomes a solid starter and Pekovic doesn't come over, this draft will need to be seriously rethought.

Folks, the Wolves had a good night.  As mentioned in point #5, it could get a lot better or it could get a lot worse.  Someone needs to explain themselves with the Chalmers pick and we need to know about the chances of Pekovic coming over, but beyond that, the Wolves made an outstanding draft day deal to maximize assets and jettison bad deals while maintaining their cache of future draft picks.  It was a good night.

UPDATE:  I wrote this post last night and held it over for a bit.  It has since been reported that the Wolves traded pick 34 to the Heat before the Chalmers selection was made and the Love deal proposed.  I don't think this absolves the Wolves from the awfulness of letting an NBA starting quality point go for some cash (Chalmers would have been there anyway), but it does explain a few things. 

BTW: As much as I think that the Wolves FO need to take remedial PR courses, I think Hoiberg may have helped the Wolves' cause last night by saying that Mayo was a keeper.  By all accounts, Memphis didn't come with their best offer until the end of the 1st; after Hoiberg made his comments (to say nothing of Papa Glen's words).  Maybe Memphis saw this and felt that they had to put Miller in the deal to make it work?  It's a long shot, but I could easily see it being an effective strategy.  As embarassing as it may be for Fred, if I were him, I'd start talking about this being a strong possibility and stop trying to twist myself in knots making up excuses as to why he told a room full of season ticket holders that Mayo was the guy. 

PS: Of course, the stuff about Papa Glen is kind of hard to overlook.  It's not good when your owner isn't on the same page, and that's where the PR courses would come in handy.