Welcome to the Daily NBA Fix for Sunday, May 18, the morning after All-Star power forward Kevin Love reportedly told the Minnesota Timberwolves that he’s gone by next summer.
ESPN.com’s Marc Stein and Ramona Shelburne reported that, while Love hasn’t demanded a trade, his declaration that he is not interested in a contract extension and that he will become an unrestricted free agent in July 2015 puts the Timberwolves in a position other clubs with departing superstars have found themselves in before.
That is, trade the star before the deadline or let him walk and get nothing in return.
According to the report, if there is to be a trade, Love is most interested in the Golden State Warriors or Chicago Bulls, destinations where he believes the team would be an immediate contender.
That’s understandable—Love has been one of the most productive players in the NBA for the last six seasons and has played in as many playoff games as I have. (Although he does have a 3-0 advantage in All-Star Games, so there’s that.)
Love recovered from the hand and knee injuries that shortened his 2011-12 season and almost eliminated his 2012-13 campaign—when he played in just 73 games combined over those two seasons—to set a career high with 2,010 points as well as averages of 26.1 points and 4.4 assists per game. The increased role as a facilitator led to Love posting his first three career triple-doubles this season, all within about six weeks of each other.
Love ripped the Jazz for 37 points, 12 rebounds and 10 assists on Feb. 22; put up 22 points, 10 rebounds and 10 assists against the Lakers on March 28; and got Memphis for 24 points, 16 boards and 10 dimes on April 2.
He was third in the NBA in rebounding at 12.5 points per game, fourth in scoring at 26.1 points per contest and had the third-highest player efficiency rating in the NBA at 26.9 (average is 15), trailing a couple of overrated stiffs named Kevin Durant and LeBron James. He was also third in the NBA with 14.3 win shares—a career high and an almost absurd total for a team that won only 40 games.
Minnesota wanted to go big in their search to replace Rick Adelman, who retired after three seasons in the Twin Cities, with reports coming out last month that premier college coaches Tom Izzo, Billy Donovan and former Timberwolf Fred Hoiberg were its targets.
Flip Saunders, president of the Wolves, has since learned that no coach in a good situation is coming to the Target Center without some sort of resolution of Love’s status.
There are now reports that former Phoenix, Chicago and Milwaukee coach Scott Skiles has interviewed, along with former Wolves forward and Toronto coach Sam Mitchell and former Memphis coach Lionel Hollins.
With no games on the schedule, the Daily NBA Fix will focus on the happenings around the Association, along with a look at the daily lines for those who want to drop a buck or two on a wager.
The Miami Heat and Indiana Pacers tip off their Eastern Conference Finals rematch today in Indianapolis, so here’s a look at their four regular-season meetings that helped get us here: