After Kevin Love soaked up whatever is to be soaked up in Boston over the weekend, rumors of his impending free agency and an imminent trade have never been more alive. He’s gone, and most of Minnesota has accepted that. In a league where competition is key and being competitive from front office to frontcourt is equally important, the Wolves are making the best decision in trading Love. It’s necessary to continue moving their franchise in a positive direction. Allowing Love to walk as a free agent with no assets in return is not an option.
Timberwolves president Flip Saunders responded to Love’s weekend in Beantown with, “I expect him to be playing for us next year. I don’t dictate where guys go on vacation.”
Saunders can expect all he wants in one hand, while holding a clipboard in the other, however the truth is he won’t be drawing up any plays for Kevin Love in the 2014-15 season.
And why would Minnesota want him? Love’s been clear in his interest in moving on to another franchise. Whether he seeks greener pastures with the Boston Celtics, Los Angeles Lakers, Golden State Warriors or another team yet to be mentioned in the rumor mill, the Wolves are doing the best thing by moving him this off-season.
But where does that leave the Timberwolves? They’re still a fairly competitive team without Kevin Love. Rubio is in the top 10 of point guards, Kevin Martin can still knock down an open shot and Nikola Pekovic is a beast down low. Considering the fact that the Wolves will bring in talent that’s supposedly equal value, the Wolves become a pretty deep team out West.
They still have Chase Budinger, Jose Barea, Corey Brewer and Alexey Shved under contract for the upcoming season. These are still very serviceable players with an ability to impact a game, so it’s key that the Wolves don’t get greedy in trying to unload contracts in the wake of Love’s departure.
Upon playing their cards right, it’s possible, the Wolves could become the deepest team out west. Following the weekend’s news, if Kevin Love were dealt to Boston, the Celtics would gain Love, while Minnesota would most likely ask for small-forward Jeff Green and big man Brandon Bass in return. The Wolves starting lineup wouldn’t look too shabby: Ricky Rubio, Kevin Martin, Jeff Green, Brandon Bass and Nikola Pekovic would be a tough lineup to deal with.
On paper that’s a great rebounding team, with tons of toughness from the small forward to center position. Although Bass isn’t capable of being the outside threat Love is, he’s still serviceable in a pick and roll situation with Rubio, and Jeff Green does most things at his position well. He’s a tough defender, a great finisher at the rim and a capable shooter (44 percent career FG).
The Wolves are left with reserve players like Brewer, Barea, Budinger, Shved, Gorgui Dieng and Luc Mbah a Moute. It’s fair to argue that the Wolves become a more complete team with Kevin Love’s departure. That’s a team good enough to capture eighth seed in the West. Perhaps it’s a team capable of bringing cheer to the Target Center on a nightly basis. With no big name superstars in town, that’s the next best thing.