Although fans miss their favorite teams running up and down the floor, the NBA offseason can be just as entertaining.
This summer is no different. There’s already been a number of rumors due to one of the most talented free agency periods in league history and a classic NBA draft which commenced only two days ago.
All 6’10” and 260 pounds of power forward Kevin Love has been the centerpiece of many trade rumors thus far. After he expressed interest in leaving the Minnesota Timberwolves, he’s been linked to a number of teams competing for and hoping to acquire his services. For some strange reason, the Los Angeles Clippers haven’t been one of them.
When thinking of Love in a Clippers uniform, the first thing that comes to mind is the idea that he’d replace superstar power forward Blake Griffin. However special teams produce special results, and a combination of Love and Griffin down low would produce a new kind of special — in epic proportion.
For the Clippers to land Love, a three-team trade would have to take place. A loose example of such a trade would involve Clippers players DeAndre Jordan and Reggie Bullock heading to the Phoenix Suns.
Phoenix’s Markieff Morris and Miles Plumlee with Clipper Jamal Crawford would head to Minnesota and Love would eventually land in Los Angeles. Clippers would have to send as many first-round draft picks they can scrape up, with the Suns contributing a few themselves.
Why does Phoenix complete this trade?
The lack of a big man since Marcin Gortat’s departure has been felt in Phoenix, as of now they’re pretty thin on the inside. Defensive Player of the Year candidate DeAndre Jordan would change that with his ownership of the paint, feeding off the athleticism of former Clippers teammate Eric Bledsoe.
Why does Minnesota complete this trade?
Kevin Love is leaving regardless, and as of now the Timberwolves have to be focused on getting their hands on the best deal possible. Sending the reigning Sixth Man of the Year, Clippers guard Jamal Crawford, Plumlee and either of the Morris twins from the Suns gives Minnesota youth at the power forward position in addition to a big scorer coming off the bench.
Minnesota’s also able to keep Kevin Martin, who they’ve been reluctant to include in various trade scenarios.
Why does Los Angeles complete this trade?
First, the price to acquire Kevin Love is easier to swallow for the Clippers than, say, a LeBron James. They’ve stated their intention in gunning for Carmelo Anthony or James, however clearing enough cap space for either players would easily gut their team.
Both LeBron and Love are double-double machines, and in terms of overall talent, James trumps Love. However if there’s any lesson to be learned from this year’s NBA Finals, it’s that team play trumps offenses centered around offensive isolation.
Iso-loaded offense has never been the calling card of Clippers head coach Doc Rivers either.
Second, Kevin Love grabs the same amount of rebounds than DeAndre Jordan and most centers in the NBA. There wouldn’t be much of a dip in production, and compared to the other top centers in the league, Love leads in both rebounds and assists.
Although Jordan blocks 2.5 shots a game compared to Love’s 0.4, it could be argued that DeAndre Jordan’s blocks are at times an empty statistic. In the same sense that a superstar can score 35 points, and his team loses … just ask the New York Knicks.
A blocked shot doesn’t always equal a new possession for the Clippers, however securing rebounds on a consistent basis does. Without question, Love has been the more talented career rebounder.
Rivers also breathes team defense and thus far the Clippers defensive effort down low has been a bit Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. Very rarely are Griffin and Jordan on the same page, as the Clippers have thrived on playing vertical defense, at the expense of consistent defensive rotations.
This is an ingredient they missed in this year’s playoffs. Love is a great team defender. He moves his feet and is usually in the right place at the right time.
Third and most entertaining, the Clippers offense would be amazing. Love is a very proficient post player, outside shooter and willing passer.
Paired with Griffin, who is just as good of a passer, the Clippers high-low offense would be very hard to stop. They’d have to relinquish their “Lob City” moniker that’s gained them so much popularity, but the threat created from such a powerful inside-outside offensive onslaught would be well worth it.
With Griffin’s perimeter jumper becoming more consistent, the duo of Love and Griffin gives point guard Chris Paul maximum space to operate. Considering Matt Barnes and J.J. Redick return as starters, their starting unit would easily lead the league in points and assists.
Clippers also gain more clutch with Love versus Jordan. Although he’s been huge for the Clippers and has revolutionized his game under the watchful eye of Rivers, Jordan is still a liability late in close games.
Love’s ability to hit free throws (81.5 career percent) would be a plus for the Clippers not only late in games, but would add extra points on the board throughout the entire contest, increasing their win margin drastically.
At the moment it’s only a pipe dream. There’s been no mention of Love’s interest to play for the Clippers, or their interest in acquiring him. However in a summer of rumors, what’s one more possible scenario for the mill?