Not so fast, everyone...

The Free Agency Floodgates Open; Will Kevin Love Be Next Big Piece To Fall?

Not so fast, everyone...

Not so fast, everyone…

The news came suddenly and almost in anti-climactic fashion when LeBron James announced he was going home to the Cleveland Cavaliers. It was supplemented with a heartfelt letter explaining his situation and everything that went into the decision to return to the franchise that drafted him over 10 years ago. The sincerity and love that gleaned through the words was touching and struck right into the heart of not just Cavaliers fans but NBA fans in general; it was a standup move of pure class and maturity from a player who once coldly turned his shoulder in a quest for gold rings.

But that was only the beginning. LeBron’s decision was the key that opened the NBA free agency floodgates, as swarms of rumors, signings and more flowed through the pages of Twitter and all over the Internet.

As things stand right now, the Cavaliers have their King back, the Rockets were completely shunned, the Lakers spent way too much money today and the second-best signing came out of Phoenix. That just about sums up the day for the NBA.

However, despite the day’s nonstop action, there are still some big time pieces ready to fall into place. For one, Carmelo Anthony is still a free agent, despite visiting with teams earlier in the week. Pau Gasol seems to be a hot commodity for one of the top contenders. And everyone seems hot on the trail of the market’s “Plan B’s” such as Luol Deng and Trevor Ariza amongst others.

Next to Melo, the biggest name has still yet to fall, though and he’s not even a free agent. Kevin Love is still on the trade block, waiting for a new home. Sources close to the situation tell me that the relationship between Flip Saunders and Love has all but dried up in recent weeks, so the likelihood of him starting the season in a Wolves jersey are quite slim. That’s not to say he won’t because the market still determines that fate.

At this point, once Melo chooses his destination (Reports say it’s down to Chicago and New York), the Love market is going to be what it is. The Warriors still retain interest but also still refuse to offer up Klay Thompson in a deal. The Celtics have always been in the thick of things but their package of picks and so-so young talent has much to be desired (Not for me but for Flip and co.)

But today’s developments opened things up a tad bit — at least for a while. When LeBron’s news resonated, in classic Twitter fashion, everyone asked ‘What’s next?’ The rumors linking Kevin Love to Cleveland couldn’t be ignored, especially after word came from his camp that he’s “intrigued” by the situation in Cleveland (Sidebar: What an arrogant asshole with an ego as big as LeBron’s four years ago?) After all, Love, just 25, is in the prime of his career, wants to be on a contender right now and was teammates with LeBron on the USA Team. The fit is there, as are the potential trade pieces that Cleveland can offer.

Andrew Wiggins, 1st overall pick this summer, looks like he could be very, very good. Anthony Bennett has trimmed down and looks more engaged than his horrendous rookie season. They also have the disgruntled but offensively promising Dion Waiters and a defensive stalwart in Tristan Thompson, who could be a starter on a good number of teams in the league. Obviously Wiggins is the crown jewel of the bunch but, sadly, the Cavs have already told him he’s not being traded for Kevin Love, according to reports (That could always change.)

Now, with Love, the Cavs are immediate contenders, featuring two of the best five players in the NBA on one team, including one of the best point guards in the league in Kyrie Irving in the mix as well. Without Love, the Cavs are still a contender in the East — maybe not a championship caliber team now but one with a very bright future because of Wiggins and company. Either way, the Cavs’ general outlook is pretty positive, which doesn’t bode that well for negotiations in a Love deal. Why give up the ship now when things could be even better in a year or two?

Subsequently to the LeBron news, Chris Bosh to the Rockets for their max offer seemed like a foregone conclusion. But then he signed for even more money and years to stay with Miami, leaving the Rockets as the summer’s biggest losers thus far — again I might add. At first, a Love swap to Houston made sense because a package of Chandler Parsons and Terrence Jones might’ve been enough, but since Mark Cuban partied with Parsons and signed him to an offer sheet, Parsons can’t be traded until December, regardless of which team he’s playing for by then. So that just about wipes out the Rockets’ hopes. Sorry, guys.

So, along with LeBron’s news came the potential news that Love’s market has grown, when, in fact, it’s actually starting to decrease a bit. The potential for a bidding war on Love’s services has gone down greatly pretty much since Wiggins suited up for the Cavs in tonight’s Las Vegas Summer League bout with Jabari Parker and the Bucks, in which both players showed out. It’s not that everyone underrates Love’s value as a player but that no teams are willing — or, in the Rockets’ case, even able — to throw the ship at the Wolves in an attempt to drive up the price and acquire the All-Star forward.

But there’s still a small glimmer of hope in my opinion. Today, Jerry Zgoda revealed that Flip Saunders in fact does have a dream offer that he’s trying to leverage, and it’s coming from Chicago. A package of Taj Gibson, Jimmy Butler, rights to Nikola Mirotic and Doug McDermott is what he covets, and for good reason. Two of these players are starters right away and two others could become extremely valuable offensive weapons. That’s almost like a potential starting lineup alongside Ricky Rubio right there. But this seems a tad desperate on the Bulls’ end to give up so much for Love, especially considering they’re still out in free agency shopping for guys like Melo and Gasol.

The Bulls are the only chance that Flip and the Wolves have left at driving up the value on a Kevin Love trade this summer and starting any type of bidding war to win his services. If Melo and Gasol sign elsewhere — say Melo goes back to New York and Gasol goes to Spurs, as reported — then the Bulls are the only team with the assets available to pair with the stench of desperation to get a deal done. They can offer something out of the package listed or the exact deal listed to get the fire started. Once a deal is officially on the table that has a little bit of that desperation involved, then Flip can take that and go to a place like Cleveland or Golden State to try to maneuver a bidding war to ensue. His prize out of something like that would be a Wiggins-centric package from Cavs and Thompson-centric package from Warriors or still heap of players from Chicago. Once all the suitors have their offers lined up, then it just becomes a dessert buffet. Hmm, do I want the molten chocolate lava cake? Or am I feeling like banana cream pudding? Who doesn’t want to decide amongst those kinds of options?

The only other way I see the Love rumors light up and the trade offers start lining up is if LeBron simply wants Kevin Love on the team with him. After all, LeBron’s heading back to Cleveland a new man but he still dictates how things happen just like before. I said it on Twitter before, LeBron is now their star player, their on-court coach/leader, their GM and their owner, as long as Dan Gilbert knows what’s good for him. That franchise is indebted to the King, so he’ll get his way no matter what. If LeBron feels that Kevin Love gives them the best chance at a championship — even if it means trading Wiggins, Bennett and whatever else — the Cavs will do it and not think twice. Although this isn’t a very realistic situation and I don’t see it going down like this, it is a possibility to consider.

But, in my honest opinion, without an actual offer that wreaks of desperation, the market for Love may dry up even quicker than it moistened with the Love-to-Cavs rumors that came right off the bat. To me, the only team that can saturate the table once more are the Chicago Bulls, which will get others to jump on board in an all-out push for Love. Sadly, all of this is contingent on two other pieces that have yet to fall, Melo and Gasol. Until those two make their decisions, nothing will become of Love’s quest to get out of Minnesota, and that should be as hurtful to the fans than it should to his own agenda.

Timberwolves Announce 2014 Summer League Roster

The Wolves finally announced their Summer League roster for Vegas, which begins July 11th. As a warmup, the team will be hosting a scrimmage at the Target Center with Zach LaVine, Glenn Robinson III among others participating. Should be a grand ole’ time. Anyways, here is the official roster:

  • LaRon Dendy | Forward | NBA Exp.: R
  • Mamadi Diane | Forward | NBA Exp.: R
  • Gorgui Dieng | Center | NBA Exp.: 1
  • Kyrlyo Fesenko | Center | NBA Exp.: 5
  • Brady Heslip | Guard | NBA Exp.: R
  • Dennis Horner | Forward | NBA Exp.: 1
  • D.J. Kennedy | Guard | NBA Exp.: 1
  • Zach LaVine | Guard | NBA Exp.: R
  • Jordan Morgan | Forward | NBA Exp.: R
  • Shabazz Muhammad | Forward | NBA Exp.: 1
  • Glenn Robinson III | Forward | NBA Exp.: R
  • Alexey Shved | Guard | NBA Exp.: 2
  • Markel Starks | Guard | NBA Exp.: R

A few quick notes on the team:

  • Obviously everyone is excited to see LaVine, especially because athleticism can rule in summer league games because they’re so similar to college level basketball. But the three players that must look good no matter what are Dieng, Muhammad and Shved. Dieng and Muhammad are Flip Saunders’ guys, so they have to break that mold of recent years that the Wolves can’t develop young talent. As for Shved, he may be playing for his NBA life and a new contract. He might not even be a Timberwolf to start the season. Nonetheless, he still needs to show that he has some potential and hopefully that he built up his frame a bit this offseason.
  • Morgan and Starks are nice additions to the squad. Neither are expected to make a team this season but they’ll definitely play a part during pool play and beyond.
  • Fesenko is an interesting name. He’s bounced around the league because there’s not much true talent there. But you can’t teach a guy to be 7-foot-1, 270 pounds. He’s an immovable object on the glass, if only he could shore up his defense a tad and learn some type of post move. He could end up being a decent option off the bench as a final big man.
  • I’ll bring it back to LaVine and Robinson III now. What we want to see out of both of them is an emphasis on team ball. Let Muhammad, Dieng and Shved shine while not completely surrendering your worth. I’m not nearly as worried about Robinson III in this regard as I am with LaVine because he played that role in college. LaVine, on the other hand, could easily let things get out of control, which could ruin his summer league experience and chip away at any confidence.
Zach LaVine, the Wolves 13th overall pick in 2014 NBA Draft

Timberwolves 2014 Draft in review

Zach LaVine, the Wolves 13th overall pick in 2014 NBA Draft

Zach LaVine, the Wolves 13th overall pick in 2014 NBA Draft

The NBA draft is over. You can exhale and safely bring back out the top-shelf liquor and crystal-ware to pour yourself a drink. After all, you deserve it! You stayed up late and watched the whole thing, didn’t you?

Well, in case you didn’t, here’s a very brief recap with a more in-depth analysis below:

  • Wolves take UCLA G Zach LaVine with the 13th overall pick
  • Wolves take Michigan G/F Glenn Robinson III with the 40th overall pick
  • Wolves sell the rights to the 44th overall pick (Markel Brown) to the Nets for $1 million
  • Wolves sell the right to the 53rd overall pick (Alessandro Gentile) to Houston for unknown amount

So, the Wolves had four picks heading into the draft and took just two players but probably made enough money in their two sales of second rounders to nearly pay LaVine’s first year salary. Nice! But let’s get into what really matters: The selections of LaVine and Robinson III.

Let’s kick things off with the first choice. Zach LaVine didn’t make the greatest impression on the Wolves community by saying a curse word — it started with an “F” — after hearing his name and “Minnesota Timberwolves” in the same sentence.

But can you hardly blame him?

LaVine is an intriguing prospect from — you guessed it — Minnesota’s favorite pipeline, UCLA. Although he didn’t play much during the season, in fact he only started one game, he still put up decent numbers as a sixth man. But what everyone truly loved about LaVine was his “potential” and all the measurables that go into scouting a player. But what really determines potential? To many, that means how well his game translates to the NBA. To me, it means his numbers, role and attitude/drive translates favorably to an NBA team.

Flip Saunders said, when he first started and reiterated when he was looking for a head coach, that he wanted analytics to become a part of the Timberwolves future when it comes to building the team. But, in an effort to completely throw that logic to the wind, Saunders did the opposite by taking LaVine, who is a complete testament to the old-school “eye test” when it comes to gauging a prospects, well, prospects of becoming a solid NBA professional. And by the eye test I mean you look at a guy and his measurables — height, vertical, wing span, hand size, shuttle time, etc. — in order to determine his fit and potential in the NBA.

But guess who will be the first to tell you that the “eye test” only goes so far: David Kahn.

Kahn was particularly keen on the eye test when scouting any draft. After all, it’s an old school measure of gauging a player’s transition and potential to the NBA. But in today’s stat-driven world, it’s an outdated method by immense measures. LaVine’s transitional statistics to the NBA are not good. In fact, LaVine’s per 40 minutes aren’t very good with just 15.4 points per game on 44 percent shooting. He’s not even close to good in terms of getting to the free throw line with just an average of three free throw attempts per game, despite a guy who’s athletic and likes to get to the rim. His true shooting percentage and effective field goal percentages are tempting but he turns the ball over too much and his usage rate was suspiciously high for a sixth man at UCLA.

Saunders falling for the eye test on LaVine is a critical mistake in the Timberwolves’ future plans. I don’t want to be the one to break him the news because I, in fact, have fallen for the eye test plenty of times, and often right alongside Mr. Kahn himself. Come draft time, I believed the Johnny Flynn projected to be an average NBA starter at the very least, and at the 6th pick, that’s not a bad deal some times. Then, with Wesley Johnson, I believed he was going to be another player with average starting capabilities. After all, he was long, had great size and defensive capabilities and could shoot the ball very well right out of school.

And then there was Derrick Williams. He was a little tougher to gauge, but in a draft that was so poor after Kyrie Irving, they really didn’t have much better of a choice. All three — Flynn, Johnson and Williams — turned out to be busts in Minnesota and put the franchise back about five years in terms of rebuilding.

Now, I’m not saying the LaVine’s fate will be very similar, but history lays out the path; the Timberwolves simply don’t draft well regardless of position in the draft. It’s a difficult reality to face, especially because they could be so much better than they currently are or ever have been, but the Wolves have been at the mercy of the draft’s crapshoot every season. It’s never been kind but part of that rests on the minds of the decision makers like Kahn and Saunders. In the end, there are new, innovative ways to approach creating a roster that fits the mold of your style of play and neither has been able to achieve that. Instead, both were stuck in the ancient ways of the eye test and have furthered the potential of failure for the coming years. I absolutely refuse to call Zach LaVine a failure before he appears before us in a Timberwolves jersey for at least a season, but forward-thinking with an emphasis on analytics has me skeptical nonetheless until he proves me otherwise.

As for Robinson III, he has a chance to become one of the best value picks of the entire draft, which Flip may or may not deserve credit for.

For starers, Robinson III is one of the more accomplished players in the second round, both in terms of statistics and team success in college. His per 40 minute stats are considerably better than LaVine’s in both of his seasons at Michigan. In most other drafts, I wouldn’t be surprised if he was a late teens-to-twenties draft pick but this year was a tad different. Regardless, Robinson III played a big part in Michigan’s success the past two collegiate season, posting win shares of .178 and .142 in his freshman and sophomore seasons respectively. The regression in his sophomore season is a tad alarming, mostly because he was supposed to be the guy once Trey Burke and Tim Hardaway Jr. were out of town but that wasn’t the brand of basketball the Wolverines played, and if anyone reaped the benefits it was their key player Nik Stauskas.

Robinson III sorta just fell into Flip’s lap. If another name was called at 40, Flip may have had some explaining to do. Robinson III has a great chance to make the team, especially if Robbie Hummel is no longer an option — which he shouldn’t be. It’s not like Robinson III is a must-have on the roster, but he certainly adds a level of competition when it comes to making the squad, which is why he’s a great asset to have aboard.

If I had to give the Wolves a grade on last night’s draft, I’d have to say it’s INCOMPLETE. It’s a copout; I know that. But when you take a player like LaVine, who is such an enormous question mark, at a time where you really need players who can make an impact immediately, you’re taking on a huge risk. And as much as I like the Robinson III pick in the second round, it doesn’t make up for the fact that there were impact guys to be picked at 13 but you passed on them to take a potentially big project in the middle of a transitional period for the franchise.

If this were indeed a sign of things to come for the Wolves’ remaining offseason, I’d advise to brace for the worst. There are two things very wrong with what went down tonight that support that last statement. The first is that Kevin Love remains a Timberwolf. It’s not a bad thing but it means that you’re still skeptical of the offers on the table and that you don’t have a clear understanding of the direction you want the team to head in. Do we keep Love? Do we trade him? That sort of thing exactly. The second is that Flip has already publicly stated that he wants the Wolves to remain competitive and not go into any sort of rebuilding mode yet he took the most unpolished player in the entire lottery — perhaps the entire draft — at no. 13. What does that say about the direction of the team and where management would like to see things go from here? Doesn’t exactly scream “stay competitive” to me…

I have a strong gut-feeling that Flip doesn’t have any sort of plan for the present and the future states of the Timberwolves roster. Instead, he’s being very retroactive by sitting and waiting for things to change around him — like an unexpected trade offer for Love or the addition of Klay Thompson in a Warriors offer — but that doesn’t make the Wolves any better, or push the roster or future any further along in the present. Instead, that regresses the progress that was already taking shape because teams like the Mavericks, Pelicans and Nuggets are all making deals to get better as soon as they can.

That’s why I think the scariest part about last night’s draft wasn’t any of the picks they made or the sales they authorized; rather it was the general feeling of “what do we do now?” that seems to be resonating throughout the entire organization’s management, while the fan base is starting to slowly feel the rippling effect. Maybe it’s because Flip has never been in a situation like this before as the President and the Head Coach, but neither has a lot of employees. So buck up, dust off the best 5-point business plan you can find and present it immediately because the rest of us seem just as confused and lost as you probably are, Mr. Saunders.

Where are you going?

Yesterday, two big things happened in the NBA, both of which were trades.

The Dallas Mavericks pulled off an interesting deal that sent Jose Calderon, Samuel Dalembert, Shane Larkin and Wayne Ellington, along with some second-round draft picks to the New York Knicks for Tyson Chandler and Raymond Felton. That’s a pretty big deal, given that four starters, a reserve player and a prized youngster were all involved. The Knicks are looking to clear cap space for the future (And perhaps rebuild if/when Carmelo Anthony decides to ship off for a new team) and upgrade the roster (Calderon) to keep Melo in town, while the Mavericks are looking to improve dramatically to entice said Melo or others that Dallas is indeed in it to win it.

The next trade that happened was the Houston Rockets sending a stable starting center, Omer Asik, to the New Orleans Pelicans for a 2015 first-round pick. The same thing is going down here as it did in the Mavs/Knicks deal; one team is trying to clear cap space so they can get better immediately through free agency — the Rockets want to also clear Jeremy Lin’s cap space to make a run at signing Lebron James and Carmelo Anthony. While the Pelicans are looking to get better right now, by sliding one of the best defensive centers in the league right next to a guy who might be the league’s best player in three-to-five years, Anthony Davis. To see latest NBA odds, check out a list of betting sites at SportsBettingPal.com.

These deals should signify something deeper to the Wolves than it does the rest of the NBA. These are two teams in the West — three if you consider what the Rockets are trying to do but only if they pull it off — that are getting better through trades that will help them right away next season. Chandler and Asik are terrific interior defenders and will help both teams’ defenses because of that. Acquiring those two guys is a signal to the fanbase that “Hey, we’re ready to make the playoffs for you guys!” And what have the Wolves been sending to the fanbase? A whole lotta shit. In fact, with the Kevin Love bologna on their hands, they’re now faced with a huge dilemma ahead of them. Do they keep Love and make a drastic move to improve the roster now? Or do they trade Love and — yet again — look to rebuild the team from bottom up? Either way, it’s going to take a lot guts and moving pieces to do so. If you keep Love, you’re telling yourself and the fans that you can improve enough to get to a point where Love is satisfied with re-upping for one more year and even talking an extension in 2015-2016. If you don’t keep Love, then you have to not only ship him out of town for the right package but also have the necessary means to not screw things up with draft picks and salary cap.

I’ve been a fan of a minor rebuild since the day Love made it public that he doesn’t want to stay in Minnesota. Just maximize his value, get a good player or two and a few helpful draft picks. You may stay mediocre long enough to convince Ricky Rubio to stay, while you develop some of the younger talent you already have and will have for the future. At least in this scenario, you’re clear with yourself and the fans about the direction that the team is heading in. You’re not continuously wavering, “Oh, maybe we should keep Love win 45 games and then lose him to L.A.” You have a clear-cut direction and plan to stick to. With that mentality in mind, if you want to keep Love and push to be much better next year, then you’re going to sacrifice things to be on the “good side” of one of those trades we already saw happen.Why aren’t the Wolves making a play for a new starting small forward or shooting guard, no matter what it takes? You have to address your needs and go for it with whatever you have, even if it means giving up something in return that may affect the future.

I believe that the latest trades by the Mavericks and the Pelicans are a gunshot to the West that the Wolves have to pay attention to. Because, instead of being on the other end of a trade that nets them a better roster than they have now, they’re sitting on the sidelines, watching, waiting, and it doesn’t seem like they have much of a plan right now. Instead they’re going through the motions with no real direction, and I guarantee, they’re going to get lost somewhere they don’t want to be along the way. Why not take the chance to improve the roster? Shock the fanbase, shock the LEAGUE, just give the people what they want on the most exciting night in the NBA: Excitement.

Improvement doesn’t happen from being stagnant. Flip Saunders needs to make his move TONIGHT. But which route is he going to take? Where are YOU going, Timberwolves?

HTW’s 2014 Mock Draft

Instead of pulling my hair out until draft night actually comes, I had this idea to do a live mock draft via Twitter. Well, it turns out that I was beaten to the punch by Chad Ford and Jeff Goodman but that’s alright. That didn’t mean we had to give up on the fun.

That’s why the gang at HTW got together and did a live mock draft to keep our brains sane until Thursday. Here’s how everything unfolded.

Wiggins

I surely thought I’d get an enticing trade for the first overall pick. That way, as the Cavs, I could shock the world two years in a row at the draft. Instead, logic ruled and we went with a player we feel has immense upside and will be able to contribute defensively right off the bat. With Irving, Wiggins and Waiters, we have a strong core to build from or to at least test the waters with one more season to see how things go.

Parker

There was a trade offer from the Utah Jazz to get into this pick. In fact, a #5/Derrick Favors swap for #2/Ersan Elyasova was really enticing. But we wanted Parker from the get-go because he gives us the chance to improve immediately. Last season wasn’t easy but now, with a true go-to scorer like Parker, we’re moving forward towards a brighter future.

Embiid

Yeah, we did it! We’ll probably get ripped for taking an injured center two drafts in a row but it’s all about assets and upside for us. We know we’re still not going to be good next year, so why wouldn’t we take the best player available and wait for him to get healthy? As for the Noel/Embiid logjam, why can’t they play together? If Embiid gets healthy and develops more of an offensive game, we’d look like geniuses because no one will score on his in the paint. To us, it was the right move.

exum

We were more than happy that the 76ers took Embiid, otherwise we’d have a very tough decision to make. Exum was our guy the whole way. We thought about making a move for the #1 pick to grab Wiggins but feel like Exum is the most gifted offensive player in the draft. He’ll play point guard alongside Victor Oladipo. Just wait, in 2-3 years, this will be one of the best backcourts in the NBA. Guaranteed.

vonleh

Soo, we’re kind of pissed. We didn’t want to do it but we dangled Derrick Favors in front of Milwaukee to ultimately get Parker. That was our guy this whole time because we thought we’d be a shoe-in to trade up. Once Milwaukee wavered and then said no, we were pretty down. Then we thought maybe Embiid would fall to us. Wrong again. We’re taking Vonleh, and we’re satisfied with it, but let it be known that this isn’t how it was supposed to go down.

gordon

The truth must come out and reveal the greedy Timberwolves for who they are. This was the trade proposal we offered them for Kevin Love:

Boston gets: Kevin Love and Kevin Martin
Timberwolves gets: Jared Sullinger or Kelly Olynyk, Keith Bogans (non-guaranteed contract), Brandon Bass, #6 overall pick, 2015 first-round pick from Clippers and rights to swap first round picks with Brooklyn in 2016

Tell me you’re not pissed! Well, it’s their loss in the end because we did get the guy we really wanted, and supposedly the one they wanted as well. The problem now is we’re thinking more along the lines of rebuild since we couldn’t acquire Love. Does anyone have their eyes set on Rajon Rondo?

smart

Name the last great tenured starting point guard for us? With Kobe getting up there in age, we have to start thinking of the future now. Sure, we want to get better as soon as we can, and we will try through free agency, but we needed a player with great upside and a great determination to win at all costs. That guy was Smart to us. He’s the most competitive player we worked out, and fills a position of need for us. We think he’s a guy to grow a young nucleus around.

randle

We were looking to trade down with this pick because we rated Gordon and Smart higher but they were both gone. No one bit on any trades so we took the best player available. With Randle, our offense gets better right away. We may struggle a bit on defense when DeMarcus Cousins and him are paired together but I think we can work past that eventually. We’re happy to have Randle because of the upside he brings to our future.

stauskas

This pick came down to the two best shooters in the draft: Nik Stauskas and Doug McDermott. To be completely honest, it was a toss-up. We loved Stauskas’ ability to also play some point but we also liked McDermott’s ability to stretch the court at either forward position and cover Michael Kidd-Gilchrist’s kryptonite. Ultimately, Stauskas’ size at his position won us over, so we went with him.

mcdermott

For all the fans that were upset by us taking Embiid earlier, here’s our redemption. We were looking at a “stash” kind of option with this pick (Either Dario Saric or Jusuf Nurkic) but we kinda did that before with Embiid. Now we grabbed a guy who will help us immediately this season and also be a clutch shooter for years to come.

payton

Payton doesn’t exactly fill a need here but we love his upside. We were considering a couple different trades, including one from the Hawks that included Denis Schroeder. But in the end, this was the best player we could get at the time. There will be times that Brian Shaw can play Payton and Ty Lawson together without losing anything on either side of the ball. He’s a versatile player, who can grow into his game in Denver because we’re not going to force him to play big minutes right away.

lavine

The Phoenix Suns traded the rights to picks #18 and #27 to the Magic for the rights to #12. The number one target on our board after the first two tiers of players were gone was Zach LaVine. We’re enamored with his literal upside. He has uber potential and is a freak athlete. What don’t we love about a player who can jump really high, run really fast and even shoot the outside shot with some confidence? It’s like Gerald Green 2.0! Color us pink, we’re ecstatic to get our guy.

wolves

It came down to three guys: Payne, Gary Harris and Rodney Hood. We weren’t actually expecting Harris to fall but we always had our eyes set on Payne. We’re losing some depth in the frontcourt this summer, so we felt it was necessary to fill that role right away. Also, our best player has already informed us he doesn’t entirely want to play here anymore and he plays power forward too. Did we just nail two birds with one stone? Potentially.

harris

After grabbing LaVine earlier, we didn’t necessarily want this pick. In fact, we shopped this pick around along with … (GULP) … Eric Bledsoe to see what the league would do. To our surprise, no one really jumped other than Houston. The problem with Houston was that we wanted Chandler Parsons, no questions asked. But since they declined his option, making him in RFA, the negotiations got sticky and then the final offer turned into Omer Asik, Terrence Jones and #25 for Bledsoe. We couldn’t do it. So now we have a backcourt full of players (Bledsoe, LaVine, Harris, Goran Dragic, Archie Goodwin) that we can’t all find minutes for. With that I must say Bledsoe’s still on the block!

hood

With this draft being as deep as it was, we were awfully content with staying at #15. It’s not like we had any offers to move up or down, which we would’ve considered, but we knew that a good player was going to be available no matter what happened ahead of us. Rodney Hood fell right into our laps, and now we have a legit 2 or 3 to pair next to Kyle Korver and/or Louis Williams as a starter. We think he’s going to be a serviceable starter for us for a long time.

warren

After trading away Luol Deng last season, we lacked some depth at the forward position. On top of that, no one really had a knack for scoring on the entire roster without Derrick Rose active. With Warren we grabbed one of the best pure scorers in the draft and, as a bonus, he’s a forward! We’re excited about Warren moving forward because he could take over the bench as a scoring spark plug. That definitely pushes us forward in the East.

saric

At #6 we already got the guy we wanted. And now that Dario Saric — who reportedly prefers Boston, L.A. or New York — was there for the taking, we had to take him and assume he won’t be in the NBA for 2-3 years. That’s okay with us. In fact, we now have a year or so to decide if we’re going to completely rebuild or not.

anderson

Did you see Boris Diaw during the NBA Finals this year? Because we did, and we liked it a lot. Too bad Diaw’s getting pretty old, and his better days are undoubtedly behind him. But since we loved his game so much, why not draft the one guy who is his best NBA comparison? Kyle Anderson is just a hooper. He has a great i.q. for the game and is a tremendous passer from everywhere on the court. Against the right team, he’s going to be a matchup nightmare.

ennis

We’ve been down this route before. We took Marquis Teague in 2012 hoping he’d be a great backup to Rose. Only problem was Rose wasn’t there and Teague still wasn’t ready for action. But now we really have to consider Kirk Hinrich’s age and look for a new replacement. Ennis is one of the most steady players in the draft. He didn’t wow us in any workouts but he’s a game-guy, ya know? He’s going to make an impact on the game itself, where he’ll be counted on to make that tough pass or hit a big three-pointer. He’s game for all that kind of stuff.

napier

To be honest, Napier wasn’t the guy. We really wanted Ennis to fall so we could reunite the Canadian back to the motherland. Even better we should’ve gotten Wiggins! But anyways, there’s no shame in taking Napier. He’s a born-leader, best showcased during UCONN’s magical run in the NCAA Tournament. He’s going to serve very nicely as Kyle Lowry’s backup.

mcdaniels

By watching the San Antonio Spurs dominate the Heat in the finals this season, we realized that we need to become more of a unit on both sides of the ball and not rely so much on Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook to carry the load. After all, look how good it did Miami. To play like a unified squad, we need some more depth everywhere. McDaniels gives us a top-notch option to give Durant a breather. He’s a solid defender and can guard anyone on the wing, which also gives us a tool to play alongside Durant in certain lineups.

hairston

We needed guys who could just flat-out shoot last year, especially from the 2-guard position. All we really had in terms of a shooter was Mike Conley. P.J. Hairston immediately helps us out with that. Then we also think he’s underrated as an athlete and defender. He has good size for the position, and although he’s had his fair share of troubles, we think a guy like Tony Allen can mentor him into the NBA.

young

Are you kidding me? James Young was supposed to go in the teens, maybe even a late lottery guy. And he falls to us at 23? Can you tell we’re happy?! We actually considered trading back up to get Young earlier but we were still looking at ways to get Parker. Instead, we’re very happy to have Vonleh and Young joining the squad. Young slides in perfect behind Hayward and Burks as a sharpshooter from the bench and a role scorer.

stokes

We had a feeling somebody below us was going to take Jarnell Stokes if he fell any further. He’s a one-of-a-kind rebounder, actually better than Randle, Vonleh and Gordon even. You can’t teach rebounding like that, especially at this level. Stokes strengthens are frontcourt that much more, so we’re happy finishing the round with Stauskas and Stokes.

grant

Terrence Jones is still a rocket but if Jerami Grant can prove that he can play a similar role, we may be inclined to move Jones out via trade. Still considering moving him for Bledsoe. Anyways, we think Grant, if developed, can be a nice piece off the bench. He brings athleticism and rebounding to our lineup, which you can never have too much of.

capela

We really wanted Stokes here because we’re looking for players to come in and help us now. Instead, we took Capela who was the best player available. If he’s not available to play right away, so be it. We’re going to look towards free agency to improve anyway … Once the Big Three sign back on board…

nurkic

I’m really not entirely sure how Nurkic was still here. On our board, he was top-15. I mean, we watched Nikola Pekovic abuse Dwight Howard in his Magic days, why wouldn’t we want the next version of that? Nurkic might not be ready to come over just yet but we’re willing to wait because we know we’re still a few years away from playing at a highly competitive level.

clarkson

asdf

mcgary

We’re losing Darren Collison, so we need a true back up to Chris Paul. That’s why Clarkson was our favorite player left on the board. We would’ve been more than lucky to have Ennis or Napier fall but we’re more than happy with Clarkson because of his size at the position and ability to score the ball.

adams

Jordan Adams reminds us a little of a younger Anthony Morrow. And you know how much we love shooting the deep ball with accuracy!

kevinlove

Kevin Love Rumor Mill churning again

kevinlove

Kevin Love is a wanted commodity. You would be too if you can post a double-double as easy as tying your shoe. But now that he’s already let it be known that he’s not keen on staying in Minnesota past this upcoming season — with the ability to bounce thanks to David Kahn’s Kahntract that gave him in out after his third season — the rumor mill is moving fast with the draft approaching. And this time, the rumors could actually be truer than they were four weeks ago.

When the Love news broke out, the rumors went flying. That’s because a lot of people don’t have much else to do than to fuel the fire. But now it seems to be time where the Wolves actually have to consider the trades currently on — and even off — the table. Before we move further, check out current NBA future lines for the Minnesota Timberwolves and monitor how their odds move over the early summer as rumors come to fruition.

Many believe after yesterday that the Boston Celtics are the frontrunner. Why? Well, Chad Ford said so, DUH. But what also is interesting is all the hubba that Love stirred up when he vacationed the Boston. He caroused around the city like royalty and even met up with his agent and Celtics point guard Rajon Rondo to take in a Boston Red Sox game at Fenway. Then David Ortiz got into the mix – Damn you! He tweeted at Love offering advice of how to move from Minneapolis to Bo-Town, like a boss.

But if you move all the drama and passive-aggressive behavior aside, the Celtics have a pretty nice little package to send the Wolves for Love. The problem is no one truly knows what it is — if there’s an official offer on the table or not. The Celtics have multiple young, talented players like Avery Bradley, Jared Sullinger and Kelly Olynyk. Then they also have the 6th and 17th picks in this year’s draft. Then, if you want, you can maybe even throw in Jeff Green as a possibility. Flip Saunders has stated that he doesn’t want to rebuild, if a Love trade indeed happens. You can’t blame the guy but not dealing Love because you’re only getting picks back as the headline is the wrong mentality. But I digress. If you look at all the pieces the Celtics could potentially offer, it seems like they’re a great fit to; 1) gain some young pieces as you address the future of your roster, and; 2) gain some players who’ve played in the league at least a couple of years. It’s the best of both worlds, methinks.

It’s not fair to jump all over the Celtics as the only logical landing point quite yet. Just because Ford has merit to say so doesn’t mean it’s even close to true. But get this: Darren Wolfson tweeted that he thinks the front office is sitting ominously quiet like it’s the calm before the storm. I think the night before the draft will be “take cover” time and then the night of could be a full hurricane of phone rings, espresso shots and stress. Just because the teams are what they are now doesn’t mean they will be the same way on draft night. Which is exactly why another team will plot and move to change their roster just to get the chance to make a move for Love. Maybe Golden State finds a third team interested in taking on David Lee and also sends a first round pick to Minnesota for the trouble. Maybe Sacramento bites the bullet and does perhaps offer the boat just to have a chance at having Love for one season. Maybe Chicago decides to challenge Miami’s decrepit Big Three with a newly formed Big Four (Derrick Rose, Carmelo Anthony, Kevin Love and Joakim Noah) and clear enough space and assets to do so.

All I’m saying is anything can happen. The rumors will start to fly — with the one from yesterday being the first in a long while. I just know that it could be a bumpy ride, and the chances for disappointment are always greater than for success. But, perhaps, for the first time in just about ever, maybe the Wolves will be on the other side of the fence looking over, smirking in happiness. “Ha ha ha, have fun with that lethargic oaf of a star!”

Screen Shot 2014-06-13 at 1.39.49 PM

HTW’s 2014 Wolves Draft Board

Screen Shot 2014-06-13 at 1.39.49 PM

The NBA draft is less than two weeks away, and the Timberwolves currently hold the 13th, 40th, 44th and 53rd picks. Now, that’s a whole lot of picks that no one team should ever actually use unless they’re stashing Euro players. And with Kevin Love’s fate hanging in the balance, those picks are bound to move around for other pieces. Regardless of what happens, the Wolves know they need to add a young piece to this current group to shore up the bench or potentially find a new star if they end up trading the one the have now away.

There are tons of options for the Wolves to go with all those assets, with the 13th pick being the most coveted — aside from Love. In such a deep draft with even some legitimate potential stars at the top, there are going to be some names that can come in and push this team forward right away. HTW wanted to review those players and rank them accordingly to fit the Wolves’ needs/desires. This is different than Chad Ford’s Big Board or any other rankings or mocks you’ll see around the web. These players were ranked according to 15 different categories — from Team Fit to Marketability and more — on a scale of 1-10. Then they were weighted, added up and divided to find the average. What we have left is a number ranking from 1-10 on which player fits the Wolves best and therefore should draft.

Below is that list with some comments on how the board turned out:

Player:Overall Rating:Player:Overall Rating:Player:Overall Rating:
Joel Embiid9.87Shabazz Napier7.73Deonte Burton6.60
Andrew Wiggins9.87Bogdan Bogdanovic7.73C.J. Wilcox6.60
Jabari Parker9.53Clint Capela7.60Russ Smith6.60
Dante Exum9.33Mitch McGary7.60Isaiah Austin6.53
Noah Vonleh9.27Cleanthony Early7.60Walter Tavares6.33
Julius Randle9.27Thanasis Antetokounmpo7.60Patric Young6.33
Aaron Gordon9.20Rodney Hood7.40Devyn Marble6.33
Gary Harris8.73Zach Lavine7.33LaQuinton Ross6.33
Doug McDermott8.67Jordan Adams7.13Damien Inglis6.27
Tyler Ennis8.60Jerami Grant7.00Jabari Brown6.27
Dario Saric8.53K.J. McDaniels6.93James McAdoo6.20
Nik Stauskas8.47Kristaps Porzingis6.87Jordan Clarkson6.13
Marcus Smart8.33Glenn Robinson III6.87Nick Johnson6.07
James Young8.27Jarnell Stokes6.80Artem Klimenko5.93
T.J. Warren8.27Jahii Carson6.80Josh Huestis5.80
Adreian Payne8.27Sean Kilpatrick6.80Johnny O'Bryant5.73
Kyle Anderson8.20DeAndre Daniels6.67Visillje Micic5.47
Elfried Payton8.07Spencer Dinwiddle6.67Rasmus Larsen5.47
Jusef Nurkic8.07Nikola Jokic6.67Casey Prather5.40
P.J. Hairston7.87Dwight Powell6.67C.J. Fair5.27

 

  • So, let’s play a game. Say the Wolves make a deal with Cleveland for the first overall pick and a combination of Dion Waiters, Tristan Thompson, Anderson Varejao, and Anthony Bennett by sending Kevin Love over. Now they’re on the clock. What do they do? Based on the board, they can’t go wrong flipping a coin over Joel Embiid and Andrew Wiggins. Embiid has a higher ceiling — the Hakeem Olajuwon comparisons are no joke — but has a ways to go before he reaches it. Wiggins fits the Wolves roster better right now. He might have a lower floor because he’ll be a Kawhi Leonard type of player early on but clearly needs guidance and will not be to go-to guy, especially on offense. If that’s the case, and you had to trade Love away to get to the top spot, I think you lean on Embiid because of the chance he has to become a superstar one day. The least you can do by trading your star away is getting the chance to blossom another, so that’s why I think Embiid would be the pick, despite the logjam they’d have at center. That would work itself out through trades later on.
  • Jabari Parker is without a doubt the third guy on the Wolves list, although I wish he were higher. Personally, I’d take him over Wiggins, but given the Wolves’ current makeup, Wiggins slides into the lineup much easier. I still believe Parker could be the best player from this draft in the end.
  • Once the top tier is gone — Embiid, Parker, Wiggins — things start to jumble up for the Wolves. We have Dante Exum with a narrow lead over Noah Vonleh, Julius Randle and Aaron Gordon. I think like every other team, this is the core of that second tier of players. Exum has a slight lead just because I think he fits alongside Rubio better than what other people might think. And if Rubio can work out that three-point jumper a bit, he plays off the ball just fine, when Exum might have to take things off the dribble on his own. But I think the Wolves are high on all three of Vonleh, Randle and Gordon, especially if they’re moving to a future without Love. Vonleh and Gordon can both play in Minnesota alongside Love, whereas I see Randle as more of a desperate replacement if Love’s traded. If it were me, and I had a choice between the three forwards, I’d probably go with Randle because he’s the only one with a refined offensive game, which is very versatile.
  • Gary Harris and Doug McDermott come in next because they can shoot it. Along with Nik Stauskas, who is 13th on the board, these guys can slide in perfectly off the bench. I like Gary Harris the most but almost sure he’ll be be gone before the 10th pick. Stauskas could be overdrafted come draft night, and I’m still not entirely sold on McDermott. He doesn’t have the size or athleticism to do what he did in college, which was special. A great player but not worthy of a top ten pick, if you ask me.
  • An update here, Chad Ford reports that Dario Saric IS staying in the draft. Thank God. This dude rules. I mean, I’m really bullish on Saric. Problem for the Wolves is they need help now, and just because Saric is entering this year’s draft, does not mean he’s going to be in the NBA next season. He’s a wonderful talent who could excel in the NBA but other teams know that; he’s definitely no secret. Saric will get drafted before 13th, so the Wolves would have to move up in order to get him, which probably isn’t the right move.
  • Marcus Smart is one many are debating. He would’ve been a top three pick last season but went back to school, and things didn’t necessarily go as planned. Now that he’s doing workouts and showing teams that last year’s woes were just a fluke, he’s starting to rise back up the boards. Would I take him over Exum if I needed a point guard? Hell no. But he’d probably be the next-best guy, right? Not so fast. For the Wolves, they need someone off the bench who can slide into being Rubio’s no. 2. Smart is a leader, a go-to guy, and as hard as it might be to pass him up, Ennis seems to fit the mold of what Minnesota’s looking for in a backup point guard. That’s why I think Ennis is they guy over Smart for Minnesota.
  • Everything is really jumbled after the 14th guy on the board. If the Wolves some how move back in the draft, they’ll definitely have a hard time picking one guy to justify. Guys like T.J. Warren, James Young, Adreian Payne, Kyle Anderson, Elfried Payton, Cleanthony Early and Rodney Hood all are solid options. Guys who can legitimately play the 4 are better options — Payne, Anderson — because the Wolves have depth at the 3 with Brewer, Muhammad and Budinger. If there was one 3 I’d like to see them go with, even at the 13th pick, it’s Young. I think Young is an intriguing prospect given his size for the position and ability to shoot it from deep. He’s a consistent scorer, and although he struggled a tad in Kentucky, he could become another Eric Bledsoe kind of guy, where people overlooked him based on one year under Coach Cal.

There’s much more to go over, so let’s move the conversation to Twitter. Hit up @Howlintwolf with your opinions on the draft board and who you’re keeping a close eye on.

Oh what to do with Kevin Love

A Look inside Bill Simmons’ Mailbag

Oh what to do with Kevin Love

Oh, what to do with Kevin Love

How many hours have you spent on the trade machine this week? How badly are you trying to virtually aide Flip and the Wolves in getting rid of the cancer that is Love before we have to boo him during home games? No one feels comfortable stepping outside of the ‘We have to trade him sooner than later’ bubble, and I don’t blame you. For me, I’ve been trying to stick shovels, garden hoes, pitchforks (Why do I have so many gardening tools?) into the bubble’s shell from inside but it just doesn’t seem very plausible at this point.

So if it’s a reset button they have to press, let’s press the right one. AMIRITE?!

Go back to 2007, when the Wolves needed to trade Kevin Garnett. Subtly curving downward from his prime, there were suitors all over the league drooling over the chance at grabbing Garnett. McHale had his pick from a giant litter of offers that were laced with helpful assets as far as the eye can see. But in the end, he chose an enticing at the time but mediocre deal with his old friend and teammate in Boston, Danny Ainge. Did Ainge get the ‘buddy discount’? Of course he did but Minnesota still thought they got a decent haul headlined by Al Jefferson, two first-round draft picks, and then a slew of intriguing young players like Gerald Green, Sebastian Telfair and Ryan Gomes. Oh, and Theo Ratliff was there too.

The return was enticing because of the similar stages each player was in at that point in their career. Although the key players coming from Gang Green all were young in years, at least they had some NBA-game action, which can be important when you’re trying to sustain at least a moderate level of success while still trying to mold a young athlete into the player/person you want them to be.

Looking back now, though, I think it’s pretty clear that that’s a deal you want to stay away from in the future. Do you really want a bunch of players who some experience and okay potential  in a blockbuster trade for you superstar when you didn’t even do the scouting/drafting of these players to begin with? Are you just gonna take the other executive’s word that these guys can play and are stand-up off-court characters? I don’t believe in that one bit. We all know how the Garnett trade faired for both teams in the end and a lot of Minnesota’s negatives from the deal stem from the lack of any of the young players’ abilities to find their fit/niche in Minnesota as well as Minnesota’s ability to not give them enough time (Gerald Green kicks ass now, if you didn’t know).

I think, if Flip and Glen Taylor want to make the right move and do this thing correctly, they need to trade Love early/on draft night to cash in on the highest value possible. But even more important than the timing is the return and that it NOT resemble anything like the Garnett deal in that you don’t take on players that you haven’t scouted thoroughly and just taking on because “the coach said they have potential.” This is a trade that’s going to dictate the path for the next five years and probably even further, so don’t set your future in another front office’s hands. The only way to get a solid return is to take on a slew of draft picks, where YOU get to do the scouting and drafting of these young men and choose the ones you want of 60 incoming players, not 15 from another roster. And then you also need to take proven commodities who have real experience in the league, like four to six years, not one to two. If those two requirements aren’t met by the time a deal is announced, then it’s a complete fail in my mind, and Taylor should sell the team, leaving Flip with the mess of another potential Post K.G. Era, where darkness, shame and bullying/abuse are all inevitable.

Bill Simmons of ESPN and Grantland wrote a snippet of his take on Love’s situation and went into detail on potential trades for different teams and then ranking them from least likely to most likely to trade for Love. First off, this guy must never sleep, or when he does, his brain is in eternal Trade Machine mode because he won’t give it a break. His ideas for potential trades are so out there, there’s no way he’s not scheming 24 hours a day. Anyways, I’m going to go through his potential trades and give my two cents on each one, starting with the least likely trade spots moving into the most likely. Herewego!

L.A. Lakers: Could offer the no. 7 pick, the chance for Love to come home, and the chance for him to be reunited with his girlfriend (the actress Cody Horn). I don’t know how any of this helps Minnesota. And also — if you’re Kevin Love, you’d really want to play with Kobe for two years on a poorly owned team with no other assets? Why not just stay in Minnesota one more year, then sign with the Lakers in 2015?

First off, I’ll get to what really matters first. Cody Horn is not that hot. Nope. She’s very meh in the world of Hollywood, which isn’t what you want to be there. Kevin, you can do better, I just know it. But I can tell you this much: Love isn’t going to L.A. for at least one season. The Wolves would keep him before trading him to the Lakers because they have NOTHING to give back other than that 7th pick. It just won’t work, but if Love really wants to be in L.A., he’ll do exactly what Simmons’ says and sign there as a free agent next summer. And even that’s a long-shot considering the Wolves are going to look for a place to trade him where he wants to go, so he can re-sign with them. Sorry, Lakers, but the Love sweepstakes odds are extremely low unless something drastic happens.

Golden State: Reportedly made Klay Thompson untouchable, which makes no sense because (a) he should be VERY touchable, and (b) you should want to flip David Lee and Thompson for Kevin Love every day and twice on Sunday. If they want to expand the deal with Harrison Barnes and Kevin Martin, that’s fine, too. Love and Steph Curry on the same team? Come on. Actually, why am I helping the Warriors? Definitely keep Klay Thompson! Best 2-guard in the league!

You know, I think Golden State has one of the better packages to offer. In this one, you get two players you know are good, which is key for me, remember. But you have to get Barnes to make things right, just because he’s the “Gerald Green” of the deal. I’m not high on those kind of players but getting just one on top of the real package of Lee/Thompson is better than fine. The only problem is, like Simmons says, why the hell would we help the Warriors? They took the point guard we were supposed to take in 2009. What the hell, guys!! No, no, screw you! This conversations is over.

Phoenix Suns: They have a bunch of decent assets (the nos. 14, 21, 28 and 29 picks, Alex Len, the Morris twins, etc.) but no headliner. They’d have to package multiple picks to move up to no. 5 (Utah) and no. 7 (Lakers). Not likely. (More likely for them: Al Horford.)

Just no. The package is way too similar to KG/Boston’s minus the headliner of Al Jefferson. The picks are nice but where’s the proven commodity? They don’t have one except for Goran Dragic, who’s practically untouchable in the loosest sense of the term. Plus, there’s no way Love has actual interest in re-signing with Phoenix. We’ve already figured out that two Morris’ doesn’t make one good one. This isn’t Transformers, ya know.

Houston Rockets: Have to be mentioned because of Flip Saunders’s friendship with Kevin McHale, and because Love absolutely loved playing for McHale. But they’d have to convince Chandler Parsons to agree to a sign-and-trade, something they couldn’t do until July (after the draft). No way Parsons wants to live in Minnesota — he wants to be famous too badly. He’d rather attend Hollywood red-carpet premieres and become the next Bachelor. (I’m not even kidding.) So what if they sign-and-trade Parsons to the Lakers for whomever they took with the no. 7 pick (not inconceivable), deal Omer Asik for another first-rounder, then package those picks with other assets (future picks, Terrence Jones, etc.) for Love? Unlikely … but not impossible, right?

Julius Erving said a the Draft Lottery that the league has always worked in cycles. Generally speaking, teams are good for 5-10 years, and then turn bad again. Unless you’re the outlier like Minnesota but that’s a whole different conversation. For the sake of argument, let’s just assume he’s 90-percent right. That means it’s Houston’s time to rise for the next five seasons at least. Why would Minnesota want to push that cycle into overdrive? And for Chandler Parsons, who, like Simmons’ said, would never re-sign here and Jones, who would never re-sign when he’s ready too. Again, the potential package has no headliner and strikes to similar to the KG deal. It just won’t work.

Chicago Bulls: For Taj Gibson, no. 16, no. 19 and the rights to Nikola Mirotic. Not sure that’s enough for ’Sota. Also: That trade chews up the Bulls’ cap space, and, by proxy, their July chances for Carmelo. I can’t get a feel for the Bulls — I mean, that’s the same team that gave Luol Deng away in January, then claimed publicly that they weren’t quitting on the season. Huh???? It’s also the same team that plays in the third-biggest TV market in America and could sell for $2 billion tomorrow (not a misprint), only they operate their business like they’re stuck playing in Indiana or Milwaukee. Keep getting dem checks, Jerry.

It’s like a broken record at this point. No headliner. I do love Taj Gibson but not as the main piece. Mirotic may never be anything substantial. The only way it would work for the Wolves is if the Bulls do the hard work and shop picks 16/19 to move up into the top ten, somehow, and then give us a few future first-rounders as well. To make it work, the Bulls have to offer a minimum of three picks or find another team to help bring a headliner to Minnesota in a deal.

Okay, this next one is long because Simmons is a Celtics junkie:

Boston Celtics: They have a war chest of assets, including two 2014 picks (no. 6 and no. 17), two 2015 first-rounders (their own and an unprotected Clippers pick), two unprotected Brooklyn first-rounders (2016 and 2018), a pick swap from Brooklyn in 2017 (unprotected), a $10.3 million trade exception, Keith Bogans’s waivable-ASAP contract ($5.1 million, perfect for trade match), Brandon Bass’s deal (expires in 2015) and two decent young players (Jared Sullinger and Kelly Olynyk). They can accommodate ANY Kevin Love trade. Oh, and they have Brad Stevens and one of the league’s most respected organizations, as well as the team that keeps celebrating its players and welcoming them home even after they retire. That too.

The most logical offer: Both 2014 picks, both 2015 picks, Sullinger, Bogans and Bass’s expiring for Love. That’s four first-rounders (including the no. 6 pick). If they pulled it off, they’d have to move quickly on Houston’s Asik, even if it meant taking Jeremy Lin’s contract as the price for Asik — conceivably, they could absorb Asik with the aforementioned trade exception and absorb Lin’s deal with their cap space — which helps Houston because they need to dump the Lin/Asik contracts to pursue Carmelo. You tell me: Could you compete in the East with a starting five of Love, Rajon Rondo, Asik, Jeff Green and Free Agent 2-Guard TBA? And could you make the Finals with a Big Three of James Harden, Dwight Howard and Carmelo Anthony? YES AND YES! Let’s do this!

(And if all of this happens, followed by an unhappy Celtics season and Love and Rondo bolting in 2015 to sign with the Lakers and Knicks, respectively, then I’m moving to England and throwing myself into the Premier League. No farewell column, no good-bye party, nothing. I’m out. Nice knowing you.)

Oofta. Can you blame the man for trying? I mean, four first-round picks? The problem is the Celtics aren’t that good. Bringing in Love will put them back into the top four or five teams in the East with a healthy lineup, but they’d sacrifice any chance at a future with Love beyond a year or so because they’d be absolutely depleted. It makes sense for the Wolves because they get the picks they really need, which is a must-have in my opinion. And if you’re getting four draft picks in the trade, who needs proven players? You have four potential starters at your disposal sitting in the draft somewhere. The Wolves would happily take Sullinger, who is more of a locker room guy than Love and also plays a little bit like him too. I like Sully.

I’d say, if the Celtics were willing to roll the dice on a deal like this, I’d shake on it with my mouth shut, if I were Flip. It’d be the dawning of significant work moving forward in regards to scouting for the picks and even moving them for players they might like. But the haul is probably too good to be true.

And last but not least:

Cleveland Cavs: It all depends on whatever Bat Signal LeBron is sending them. If they truly believe they can bring LeBron home this summer or next summer — remember, he can always opt back into his Miami contract for one more season, then leave after the 2015 Finals — then here’s what the Cavs SHOULD do:

Step No. 1: Trade the no. 1 overall pick, Anthony Bennett and an unprotected 2015 first-rounder to Minnesota for Kevin Love. That’s a MONSTER offer. Boston wouldn’t be able to trump it from an upside standpoint. And by the way, ’Sota could flip that no. 1 pick to Philly for no. 3 and no. 10, take whomever’s left between Wiggins and Parker, then have the no. 10 and no. 13 picks as well, plus Bennett! That’s a RESET button and then some.

Step No. 2: Pull Miami’s old Udonis Haslem trick — renounce Anderson Varejao’s rights (for more cap space), then re-sign him in July for a longer deal.

Step No. 3: Bring LeBron home.

Your 2014-15 Cavs (potentially): LeBron, Love, Kyrie, Varejao, Tristan Thompson, Jarrett Jack, Dion Waiters and their choice of three ring-chasing veterans who would commit murder to play on that team. A little more palatable than that 2014-15 Heat roster … right?

Cleveland getting the 1st overall pick could be a blessing in disguise for the Wolves. I see two teams going the hardest after Love and that’s the Cavs and Golden State. But we already know the Warriors’ stance. The Cavs, however, have a lot more to offer and it’s all about the picks, baby. The one caveat to ANY deal with the Cavs for the 1st overall pick is that the Wolves MUST do what Simmons proposed and move the top pick to the 76ers for no. 3 and no. 10. That means you gain two lottery picks, a future first in another good draft and then Bennett, who’s a bit of an unknown but I still like him as the Gerald Green in the deal. But come on! With nos. 3, 10 and 13, you could come away with a down-the-road star and two starters within a year or two. That’s this draft flexing it’s muscles in front of our faces. And one of the best parts of the deal is Love would be heading East, not West. We’d never have to deal with his bullshit like we would in the East, just like Garnett. Love did a lot for this franchise and it’s been fun watching him over the years but the only way for him to gain his respect back from the fans is going out East, so we don’t have to see his mug on a regular basis.

Regardless of how many trades Bill Simmons con conjure up, he’s right about one thing and it’s the Wolves have to move Love by draft night. If not, his value will cut almost in half and the Wolves will be doomed for another 5-10 years. It’s just about inevitable. So, don’t let that happen. Pull the trigger on what feels right but just be sure that it’s the deal that YOU want and not another team’s misplaced oddballs that they call “assets.” It’s more effort but acquiring the picks and then finding the pieces you want in your puzzle is the way to go. Don’t screw this up, Flip.