It seems that every summer, the same scenario presents itself: star Player X on struggling Team A demands a trade to somewhere that boasts a bigger stage, brighter lights, and ever-fleeting hope of contention.
Following the awkward “it’s-not-me-it’s-you” LeBron James saga in 2010, there have been spin-offs with regards to Carmelo Anthony, Chris Paul, and Dwight Howard; all unhappy players who pushed their way into their preferred situations. Now, in the summer of 2014, Kevin Love has become the next in line.
Much will be made of the Timberwolves efforts to keep Love. Flip Saunders, the leader of the franchise, has come out and said he envisions the All-Star suiting up for Minnesota in the upcoming season.
Saunders should also expect that when the new season expires, so does his vision. Kevin Love has made it clear that it is winning time for him, and he is confident this is not possible with his current club.
Basketball is only part of the equation here, by the way. Back in March, Dave McMenamin of ESPNLosAngeles.com, reaffirmed what we already knew; Love wants to shine under lights that shine even brighter. And while Love acknowledged that the Lakers situation was no better than the one in Minnesota, reports continue to come out of his desire to relocate to somewhere bigger and better.
Acknowledging that the Minneapolis market cannot compete with that of Los Angeles or New York, and also acknowledging that the Timberwolves roster currently cannot compete with the top-tier in the NBA, it is time to bite the bullet and deal Kevin Love; this summer.
I am not suggesting that the Timberwolves should accept a low-ball offer to deal their disgruntled star. The return on any trade the Timberwolves receive will largely dictate the direction of the franchise going forward. However, if the front office has received calls from 16 of 29 teams then leverage should not be an issue at this point.
Apart from sidestepping the potential migraine headache that is dealing with the media trade speculation all season, why delay an inevitable rebuild? There are teams offering top-10 picks in a deep draft, future draft selections, and a few young players that could develop. Looking at the landscape, there is not a situation in which the Timberwolves list matches up with Love’s, allowing the franchise to trade for a proven, young player who could be the franchise cornerstone going forward while sending Love to a destination where he will commit to an extension.
Waiting until the trade deadline next year is a gamble. The draft selections acquired will have yet to face the craziness of the lottery system, leaving a layer of mystery surrounding the return. The closer to the deadline trade discussions take place, the more leverage Love will gain; any non-preferred destination could be vetoed by refusing to extend his contract. Offers for Love will increase minimally if at all. Trading now gives the Timberwolves the best chance to rebuild quickly, on their own terms.
The advantage shifts to the player when a rift of this magnitude is left unattended to. Love could leave for nothing in return, leaving the front office to pick up the pieces of the media circus and fractured locker room that’s sure to arise if this situation is allowed to continue when there are games to be played this fall.
There is no move Minnesota can make to appease Kevin Love. He wants out. If he doesn’t walk now, he’ll sprint later. The brighter lights, the bigger stage, and escape from the growing toxic situation he helped create are too appealing.
Keeping Kevin Love is a fantasy held by many Timberwolves fans. Keeping Kevin Love may be the biggest nightmare they have experienced.
It’s time to wake up.