Kevin Love‘s previous shortcomings with Minnesota’s brass have nothing to do with new general manager Milt Newton; but he might have to deal with the fallout. Newton was hired by President of Basketball Operations Flip Saunders in September of this year and the Wolves had high hopes heading into a season with a healthy Love.
Though they have only played 23 games this season, they sit at a disappointing 11-12 — good enough for 11th in the ridiculously tough Western Conference. Their main troubles come on the road where they are 4-8. Their 7-4 home record is very respectable and right in line with some of the better teams in the West, but as it stands now they do not look like a contender by any means.
The worst place to be in the NBA is that middle ground where you are not terrible enough to get top draft picks, but you are also not close to contending. Draft picks in the range of 15-20, unless you hit it every single time, are not going to yield franchise-changing results. So, with that said, do the Wolves consider trading away their young stud power forward to acquire draft picks for next year’s blockbuster draft class?!
People do forgive and forget, but sources say that Kevin Love still has some ill will toward the Wolves’ organization for only giving him a four-year deal worth $62 million and not the five-year max deal he wanted (they subsequently gave that deal to Ricky Rubio, though not for the max). It’s tough to trade a 25-year-old power forward who has proven to be a major beast on the offensive end of the floor. The one thing Kevin Love has not done — lead the Wolves to the playoffs. This is only Love’s fourth season as a full-time starter but the Wolves have yet to reach the NBA promised land with him at the helm.
So, rather than let Love walk away from the Wolves after the 2014-15 season (Love has a player option for the 2015-16 season) and get nothing; I think they should seriously consider trading him and re-tooling through next year’s draft. Here’s what Love had to say about his run-ins with the front office back in December 2012:
“I have a very, very good memory, and I always remember the people who have done right by me, and the people who have done wrong by me. It will be embedded in my brain, and something I won’t forget about. There’s no telling what will happen…”
If you hear that and think to yourself, “Love will never leave the Timberwolves” then I seriously worry for your sanity. I’m not saying its definite that he’s leaving when his player option comes up, but the mere possibility of it should scare the Wolves front office to their core — scare them enough to consider moving him before it happens.
This week Phoenix Suns’ general manager Ryan McDonough made it known around the league that the Suns are willing to move their first round draft picks in next year’s draft — for a star. I think we can all agree that Kevin Love is a star as he puts up a robust 24.7 points (fourth in the NBA) and 13.8 rebounds (league leader). Here’s what McDonough had to say about this earlier in the week:
“Our preference would probably be to maybe package a few of them. We’re obviously all looking for stars and we feel like we can put together a package as good, if not better, than any other team in the league if and when a star becomes available.”
As it stands right now, the Suns would have picks 17 (from Wizards), 21 (their own) and 30 (from Pacers) in next year’s draft. As fate would have it, the Suns are also in line to receive the Wolves’ first round pick next season, however it is top 13 protected and the Wolves would have pick No. 12 if the season ended today; and the lottery balls cooperated. The Suns have jumped out to a surprising 13-9 start behind star guards Goran Dragic and newly acquired Eric Bledsoe. Jeff Hornacek has his bunch playing a fun, uptempo style of basketball that definitely suits his current cast of players.
Alright we have two teams that seemingly have all the reasons to put together a blockbuster deal to help both teams — albeit help them at different time durations. Here’s the deal that I think would work for both.
PF Kevin Love — $14.6 million (signed through 2014-15 with player option for 2015-16)
PF Marcus Morris — $1.98 million (signed through 2014-15)
C Miles Plumlee — $1.1 million (signed through 2014-15 with team option for 2015-16)
C Emeka Okafor — $14.5 million (expiring deal)
Two 2014 first round draft picks (Suns’ pick and Pacers’ pick)
I know what you’re thinking, “there’s no way the Wolves move Love for THAT!” — think back to 2007. Kevin Garnett was a much better all-around player than Kevin Love is right now and he was traded for THAT. KG yielded returns of Al Jefferson, Gerald Green, Ryan Gomes, Theo Raftliff, Sebastian Telfair and two 2009 first round draft picks — which later turned into Jonny Flynn (sixth overall) and Wayne Ellington (28th overall).
So before you think it won’t, or can’t, happen take a hard look at who’s available in this draft class coming up. General managers around the league are salivating at the chance to have THREE first round picks — the Suns have that now, but the Wolves could have it as well (assuming they would be worse without Kevin Love and definitely keep their top-13 protected pick)…if they are willing to pay the price — a star.
You can contact me regarding this article on twitter: @Chris_Reichert