I wanted to put this off until the lottery, but the "news" is flying now, so I figured I better write about it. Yahoo sports published a piece by Adrian Wojnarowski yesterday suggesting that the Wolves have information that Kevin Love is likely to leave the Wolves as a free agent next summer, and are therefore willing to consider trade offers. (It also names Sam Mitchell as a coaching candidate--we'll get to that later this week).
The Boston Celtics, Golden State Warriors, Los Angeles Lakers and Phoenix Suns are among many teams determined to make hard runs at trades for Love, league sources said. Boston and Los Angeles plan to make high-lottery picks in the 2014 NBA Draft available in offers for Love, sources said.
This followed a twitter exchange I had with Zgoda and Wolfson, in which they both hinted they thought Love was on the table now, based on rumblings at the combine. This morning:
<blockquote class="twitter-tweet" lang="en"><p>There are going to be lots of Love rumors over the next 2 months. Flip not hanging up on teams like he did before. But that's just smart biz</p>— Jon Krawczynski (@APkrawczynski) <a href="https://twitter.com/APkrawczynski/statuses/468048887769751552">May 18, 2014</a></blockquote>
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I get emails. Dave, one of the guys who runs the excellent Suns blog Bright Side of the Sun emailed me this morning to ask whether I thought the Suns were a possibility. He enumerated their assets:
2014 first round picks: 14, 18, 27
2015 first round picks: Lakers' (top 5 protected), Suns' (likely out of lottery if Love trade consummated)
2016+ first round picks: Suns'
C Alex Len (2013 #5 pick)
SG Archie Goodwin (2013 #29 pick)
C Miles Plumlee - not RFA until 2016, near double-double in 27 mins a game
PF Markieff Morris - RFA in 2015, 13 and 6 in 26 mins off bench, 4th in 6MOY
SF Marcus Morris - RFA in 2015, 10 and 4 in 22 mins off bench
Dragic - UFA in 2015, likely to demand 10+ mill/yr next summer
Bledsoe - restricted, likely to get 10+ mill/yr this summer
and a couple of veterans on good contracts (Green, Frye)
I responded that I thought the problem with the Suns is that they lack an early-mid lottery pick that the Wolves will want to make the trade.
But ultimately, here is the problem (well, the problem is having to trade him at all, but another problem):
Love wants to go to a contender. For the Wolves, they need a shot at a real star in order to make a deal. Which means a high draft pick. Those things might be mutually exclusive. The Warriors and Bulls, who Stein mentions, lack the draft pick that would be enticing. The Celtics and Lakers have the draft picks, but in Lakers case they have nothing else and aren't likely a contender (though in the Lakers' case, Love might do it anyway), and in the Celtics case, would Love even be interested?
My initial thoughts last night focused in on the Celtics: something like their pick, the Nets 2016 pick, Kelly Olynyk, and Brandon Bass for Love and Barea.
But without Love's willingness to commit, I don't see it happening. The GSW possibility is, in my view, a nightmare scenario. David Lee and Klay Thompson? Yikes. Who wants to pay Lee $15M+ for the next two seasons? Not me.
The Bulls could put something together that might be workable, though I would have to know whether Nikola Mirotic is willing to come over. Still, the lack of a lottery pick hurts.
I can't publish this without another reminder that giving Love this contract, instead of the five year deal he should have gotten, was the worst mistake the Wolves have made in a decade of terrible mistakes. As bad as David Kahn was, this is at least as much on Glen Taylor. If they give him the right contract, he still has three years left, and this is not an issue for at least another 18 months. Instead, we are here now, and possibly back at square one of rebuilding, after a full decade of bad basketball, windows opening and closing, and lousy decision-making.
There will obviously be a lot more to come on this in the coming weeks leading up to the draft. What do you see happening? What's the best realistic deal you can put together? What deal makes you throw up in your mouth?
What else do you do if Love is moved? Do you also trade Nikola Pekovic? Strip it down? Or try to cobble together something?