Carmelo Anthony’s time of headlining the 2014 NBA off-season has come to an end. This past weekend Kevin Love and his party reportedly told the Minnesota Timberwolves that Love must be traded or else he will sign elsewhere in the summer of 2015. Love currently holds a $16.7 million player option for the 2015-2016 season, but would opt out if not traded before then.
Love, 25, has been one of the NBA’s best power forwards since being drafted in 2008 by Minnesota with the fifth overall pick. With Love’s skills and ability to put up big numbers every night there is no shortage of teams interested in trading for the big man. Reports have indicated that the Golden State Warriors, Chicago Bulls, Los Angeles Lakers, Boston Celtics, Phoenix Suns and Houston Rockets are the top teams interested in trading for Love.
In his six seasons in the NBA, Love has averaged a double-double in points and rebounds over his last five. In his career, the 6-10 forwards has averaged 19.2 points and 12.2 rebounds. Love has only had one season where he has missed a handful of games which came in the ’12-’13 season when he appeared in only 18 games (Kevin Love’s Sports Injury Alert Profile).
Minnesota has been in a similar situation multiple times as they have traded two all-star big men over the past seven years, and Love would make it three. In 2007, the Timberwolves traded Kevin Garnett to the Boston Celtics for forwards Al Jefferson, Ryan Gomes, Gerald Green, center Theo Ratliff, guard Sebastian Telfair, and two first round draft picks. One of the picks was traded to Boston from Minnesota in an earlier trade and the other turned out to be Wayne Ellington.
After three seasons, the Wolves traded Jefferson to the Utah Jazz. Jefferson was the big acquisition in the Garenett trade, but never had a winning season in Minnesota. From Utah, the Wolves received two first round picks and center Kosta Koufos. One of the picks turned out to be Donatas Motiejunas.
The last time the Wolves had a winning record was in the ’04-’05 season when they missed the playoffs by one game. The last time they made the playoffs came a year earlier in ’03-’04 when they finished a top the Western Conference.
With Love’s request of being traded and nine straight losing seasons the Wolves need to figure out someway to turn their fortunes around. The Wolves have also struggled making solid draft selections. Over the last nine lottery years the Wolves have drafted; Rashad McCants, Brandon Roy (traded to Portland for Randy Foye), Corey Brewer, O.J. Mayo (traded to Memphis for Love), Ricky Rubio, Jonny Flynn, Wesley Johnson, Derrick Williams, Trey Burke (traded to Utah for Shabazz Muhammad).
With the Celtics and Suns showing interest in Love, the Wolves could possibly add a second lottery pick for a draft that is loaded with young talent, but that is if the Wolves are still willing to go the drafting route after multiple poor selections.
The best offers for Minnesota might come from the likes of Chicago, Golden State and Houston. Not only could the Wolves force those three teams to include a first rounder or find a third team to include a first rounder, but all three teams have talented rosters that could help Minnesota’s depth issue. Minnesota cannot go back to rebuilding as the last thing their fans want is another three or more losing seasons.
If Love is traded, the Wolves still have a core of Rubio, Kevin Martin and Nikola Pekovic, along with young players Muhammad, Alexey Shaved, and Gorgui Dieng. There is also the chance of adding two or three rookies.
The Warriors could offer David Lee and Harrison Barnes as a package, while the Bulls would offer Carlos Boozer and more. The Rockets would probably include Chandler Parsons in a deal. Either way, trading a skilled big man like Love is never a good sign, but the Wolves could find themselves with a more balanced and talented roster with Love traded.
A lot has gone wrong for Minnesota, but a Kevin Love trade now so their roster has more skill and balance could be better for their future. If there has been one thing the Timberwolves have been missing over the years it’s depth, and a Love trade could be exactly what they need, even if it’s not what they want.
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