Marc Stein reports on ESPN today that the Wolves would like to acquire Thad Young from the 76ers to replace Kevin Love at power forward should they trade Love to the Cavaliers. Darren Wolfson has suggested this as well in recent days, and there is no question that Philadelphia is open to moving a player like Young as they continue to collect young players and draft picks in their rebuild. This could happen either as part of a Kevin Love trade in a three teamer, or as a separate transaction.
Young has one guaranteed year ($9.4M) and a player option ($9.9M) left on his contract, and remarkably (at least to me) still isn't 26 years old. He struggled this past season with an awful team, as his efficiency deteriorated under the highest usage of his career. After three seasons of essentially not taking 3 pointers, he set a career high with 292 attempts this past season, making only 30.8%. His rebounding percentages were also below his career averages, (though in fact he has never been a strong rebounder).
On the other hand, he remained an above average player via the advanced plus/minus stats even in an off year, and seems worth his salary. He's a reasonably efficient 3rd option type offensively and has had a strong defensive reputation during his career.
The question is what Philly would be looking for in a deal for Young. Presumably, more young players/expirings/picks. They aren't going to give him away; Thad has value. He isn't a salary dump. They might not need him for their future plans, but other teams around the league would want him. It would likely require a first round pick at least, but the Wolves might be able to also include an expiring like J.J. Barea.
What makes this interesting is what it might reveal about Flip Saunders' strategy going forward. It appears as if he is going to try to avoid a full rebuild while also acquiring a coveted young asset (Wiggins) in a trade for Love. He clearly doesn't want to write this year off and play for draft position; Jon Krawczynski of the AP has consistently said he doesn't think the Wolves want to trade Kevin Martin. Pekovic is not going anywhere. Thad Young would be a compete now acquisition.
That is a tough line to walk; I think many fans would prefer to see a more full rebuild on the theory that a Rubio-Martin-Young-Pek group is not going to win enough in the West to make a difference, so why expend assets making it happen? Better to go young, try to clear out some contracts, and hope Wiggins is the star many think he is.
I would be impressed if Flip can pull this off, and I would endorse it. Competing matters to me. I want to see the best team I reasonably can without entirely forfeiting the future. If that team wins 35 games instead of a 20 win season that might occur by moving veterans as well as Love, it's worth it. And it's possible that things break right and it's even better. Wiggins and Zach LaVine will develop how they develop; in the meantime I want to see competitive basketball. If that means no draft pick next year (to the Suns if it isn't top 12), I can live with that.
To read about the Philly side of things, check out this piece at Liberty Ballers.
What do you think about a possible trade for Thad Young? What would you give up?