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

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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!”

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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.

Coachelor

The Coachelor – Episode 3

Coachelor

Written by: Nick Allen and Jonah Steinmeyer

PREVIOUSLY ON: The Coachelor

After Mark Jackson and Lindsey Hunter became the first two coaches to depart from the competition, it was time to spend a little more one-on-one time with the eight remaining candidates. Things became a bit tense as Billy Donovan and Sam Cassell needed to be separated when heated words were exchanged. Tom Izzo and Fred Hoiberg didn’t seem to have as much interest in the job as I would have hoped and it was ultimately the two of them that would be sent home. There have been some new developments surrounding the team in the past week and it will be interesting to see how the six remaining coaches take the news as soon only four will remain.

THE POWER OF LOVE

I initially thought about trying to hide the news or at least downplay the reports that Kevin Love basically wants out of Minnesota. At first I thought the timing couldn’t have been worse. Here I am putting my heart out there for the world to see and now the discussion is how much longer I’ll be able to keep the star in town. I decided not to confirm or deny the reports, but instead use them to see who ultimately had less interest now that Love may not be a part of the organization come next season. It was time to give the contestants an opportunity to ask me some questions in an effort to weed out the serious contenders a little better.

I didn’t have a specific order in mind for this go around, but apparently Sam Mitchell was incredibly anxious to talk to me first. I figured there would be no harm to it, until he came storming into the office I waited in and slammed a manilla folder down on the table in front of me. I began to reach forward to examine what exactly had the man so fired up, but Mitchell snatched the folder up as he began sounding off:

“How in the hell do you expect me to help this team when your best player won’t even be here?! You completely missed the playoffs this season with him being healthy and you’re asking for immediate success in return from the guy that takes over coaching the team?! Listen, we definitely had some good days together, but you’re asking quite a bit of anyone that fills in.”

He put the folder back down on the table as he looked at me, waiting for a response; an answer to his questions. Anything. I picked up the folder, making sure he wasn’t about to pick it up again, and opened it to discover articles and blog posts about what exactly this news surrounding Love meant. A lot of it was speculation, truthfully, which led me to believe Mitchell just wanted to understand the situation better. However, I wasn’t very fond of how Mitchell went about trying to find out. I told him that everyone must overcome challenges if they are to succeed at the highest level. Whether Love is with the team or traded somewhere else, it doesn’t matter; success remains the goal and expectation.
This wasn’t exactly what Mitchell was hoping to hear, apparently. He thanked me for the opportunity to compete for the position, but told me he was no longer interested in becoming the head coach of the Timberwolves and withdrew himself from the competition. I had a feeling this might happen with one of the contestants, but I was a little nervous about this only being the first to talk to me. How strongly would the others feel on these matters? Would anyone else just get up and walk out like Mitchell? Before I had a chance to talk to anyone else, some representatives of the NBA overlooking The Coachelor wanted to talk to me.

I was informed that, due to two of the contestants voluntarily leaving the show, another coach was going to be brought in for me to interview. I was shocked and pleasantly surprised. Who could be willing to join the competition after all of these rumors have been flying around? The representatives said the new person wouldn’t be joining until after this round of cuts, but that I would still have to eliminate two of the coaches despite Mitchell leaving The Coachelor. I wasn’t too thrilled about that. I was already having a tough time trying to determine which two would be cut from the six remaining, but the pressure of cutting two from five was even more immense.

My head was elsewhere and I decided to change things up a bit. Instead of meeting with everyone individually after talking to the NBA reps, I decided I would bring the five remaining coaches together and talk to them as a group. I explained that Mitchell had decided to leave the show, which some of them expected. Then I dropped the bomb that two of them would still be leaving by the end of the night and that yet another coach would be joining the competition after these cuts. This news didn’t thrill the contestants, as expected. George Karl guffawed, presumably expecting me to tell them it was a joke. The baffled smile slowly crept away from his face after he realized how serious things just became.

I had to tell them that things are what they are in Minnesota. While no promises can be made when it comes to the Wolves organization, it doesn’t mean I’m a completely lost cause! I expected to come here and fall in love with one of the coaches, not have to answer questions about Love. While some of them may have been displeased with the lack of facetime they got, all I needed to know was whether or not they still had any interest in coaching the team. This was their out, any of them could walk out now or remain on the show…

ROSE CEREMONY

As I sat thinking about my decision coming ahead, I felt like the drama was never going to end. I almost just wanted to call Rick (Adelman) and beg him to come back. But I knew that wasn’t right. All I have to do is breathe, slow my mind and make a decision.

Easy for you to say.

I gathered the remaining five coaches. We’re all used to this part by now but there’s still no denying the pressure it puts over each and every one of us. But, nonetheless, it had to be done. I picked up my first rose and decided I’d say a few words about each one receiving a rose tonight.

“Flip, come get your rose. It’s been hard for me to envision us getting back together in this capacity but I’m warming up to the idea every day. There’s just something about your charm that keeps me thinking ‘What if?’ Will you accept this rose?”

“Next, is you, Billy. Although I know your home is much different than mine but I appreciate how you’ve actually entertained the idea of coming to Minnesota. You’re much different than how Tom and Fred acted with me, and I like that. Please accept this rose.”

“And, finally, this is a really difficult decision for me. You three (Karl, Cassell, Hollins) each have a different, unique connection with me, and I appreciate you all. But I can only choose one. So…”

“George, come on up here! You and I don’t have a lot in common but I can see that you have a general interest in me. I want to see more of that in the coming weeks. All I ask is you not give up on me!”

And with that, Cassell and Hollins were gone.

“Look, Sam, I know that we’ve had our moments together. But I just don’t think you’re quite ready for a head coaching role quite yet. When you think you are, I want you to keep me in mind. And, Lionel, you’re resumé is outstanding and you’re an honorable man with ties to my city, but I want you to consider other opportunities. There’s going to be a special place for you like in Los Angeles or New York. You’ll get your dream job soon enough.”

Next Week on The CoachelorJust as the NBA promised, another coach was going to join my search quite unexpectedly. I mean, why so late in the competition? Does the next contestant even stand a chance considering all the time they’ve lost since we started? How will they get along with the other coaching candidates? Whoever it is, I’m both excited and nervous for them.

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The Kevin Love Roundtable – Part 2

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Kevin Love tells the Timberwolves he doesn’t want to stay in Minnesota or even talk a contract extension and all hell breaks lose. We wanted to give you, the fan, different takes and opinions on the sticky situation. This is Part 2 of our Kevin Love Roundtable discussion featuring Nick Allen, Zachary Bennett, Derek James as well as myself, Jonah Steinmeyer. 

Jonah Steinmeyer: I think regardless of which stance the Wolves decide to take, Kevin Love isn’t staying past two more years, at most, and will be traded at some point to at least cash in on part of his value. Because of that, I want to bring up a piece done by Phil Mackey of ESPN 1500. He wrote about what teams received in return for making a big-time deal using Win Shares as the measurement of comparison. For instance, he rated the Dwight Howard trade of 2012 to the Lakers in favor of the Magic because the pieces they eventually returned on Howard’s 15.6 win shares added up to be 23.3. That number comes from the likes of Arron Afflalo, Nikola Vucevic, Moe Harkless and more. Now those pieces didn’t come from L.A. directly, so what that tells me is that a trade is going to be about adding assets, not just a “player.” That means Flip’s going to have a hell of a hill to climb in the coming years that will tell the future of this franchise.

So what I want to ask you guys is what kind of return are you looking at cashing in on, if we all agree that a Love deal — at some point in time — is inevitable? Players that can play now? Expiring cap contracts? Young players/draft picks? Can you come up with a deal you’d consider right now, given the rumors out there?

Zachary Bennett: I’m going to the answer this question but i don’t want to be taken all that seriously, readers. Grabbing the pick that we gave the Phoenix Suns for taking Wes Johnson, back, in a deal that also brings the top-5 protected pick, a role player, and a starter our way would be nice. Although, that would never happen. Something that involves the Golden State Warriors sending Klay Thompson and Draymond Green would be nice. I have an irrational liking for Green, especially. Have to imagine the Wolves try sending Pekovic or Kevin Martin with Love just to rid themselves of questionable contracts, so there will be a lot of pieces in any deal if it were to go down.

Derek James: This is what I’ve been debating on. Assuming that no major pieces move, the team could still be very competitive. So, acquiring a guy who could play now could make a lot of sense. However, it doesn’t make much sense since moving a top option on your team would defeat the whole purpose of trading for Kevin Love since you would want to win now and get him to re-up with you. Also, teams are generally not in a hurry to part with their best players, so it may mean taking on a contract that is less than desirable. Think what the Nuggets did in the Howard trade by taking on Iguodola. That’s probably what the Timberwolves would have to do.

Realistically, their best option may be to look at some combo of young talent and draft picks. I’m not crazy about loading up on draft picks because they are really an unknown quantity, so it would be ideal to get someone that has potential that we know at least something about. Really, you have no idea what is going to come of draft picks, so a young prospect would be what I’m after here.

Nick Allen: I would be more interested in receiving expiring contracts if I had more confidence in Minnesota’s ability to bring in some top free agents when said contract(s) expire(s). Kind of like Derek was saying, receiving players that can play now could still keep the Wolves competitive and in the race for the playoffs. One potential trade I’ve seen people talking about is Kevin Love for Harrison Barnes and David Lee from the Warriors. Now, we obviously have no idea if that’s something Golden State would even be interested in, but a trade like that would give the Wolves two starters in return. I would be surprised to see a deal like that go down, though. I’m anticipating, if a trade is indeed made, that the Wolves receive draft picks and young talent in return. Draft picks can seem nice on paper if you get some good ones, but again like Derek said, you never know what you’re gonna get in that scenario and leads one to wonder if it will just lead to rebuilding the team again.

Kevin Love was once the face of their franchise's draft lottery hopes

Kevin Love was once the face of the franchise’s draft lottery hopes

JS: In a perfect world, I think the Wolves get a draft pick this year, a young player with potential and a player who can come in and fill the void Kevin Love left behind, at least in terms of a dependable starter. But this isn’t a perfect world. Far from it, actually. Because this news broke nationally, this could actually give teams the chance to low-ball until the Wolves have no choice but to pull the trigger on a so-so deal.

Regardless of the return, a trade is going to reveal a new path the Timberwolves have to go down for the foreseeable future, and it could be awfully bumpy. Do you think this dawns yet another Post K.G. era? What are there similarities? Differences? And do you think it’ll indeed take another 10 years to get back to a similar point that the Wolves are at now after unloading yet another superstar?

ZB: No, and I’m going to have to look into this some more. I don’t see Kevin Love leaving at the end of next season being anything like post-KG era. Unless the unthinkable happens and the Wolves hire David Kahn again. I think things will eventually rise above mediocrity for this franchise, it’s just a matter of time. The fans have endured enough, it doesn’t get much worse when you think about the past here — at some point things have got to become successful. Or I’m just crazy.

DJ: I think that would entail another front office change and the selling off of Pekovic, Rubio and others to begin a true rebuild. The big difference between what the Timberwolves did now and then will come down to admitting when it’s time to blow it up instead of trying to piece together a fringe playoff team with spare parts. It could be a long time, or it could be a couple years depending on how things play out. But that’s the thing: there really isn’t a whole lot to know yet.

NA: I think the post-KLove Wolves would definitely be in a better situation than the post-K.G. Wolves. If Love is traded before the ‘14-’15 season, I don’t really see the Wolves making the playoffs for a few years still. 10 years? No, probably not that long. Oh, PLEASE not that long! Similarly to the K.G. situation, however, is that the Wolves would once again be without a star. A professional athlete reaching star status in the state of Minnesota is a coveted thing and I think it could deflate some enthusiasm for the Wolves. Rubio just hasn’t turned into the guy we thought he might become, at least not yet, and it would leave the team and the fans looking for someone to step up. In that case, I could honestly see Wolves fans simply hoping for the Wolves to make the playoffs and be content with the rare achievement, but it’s not enough. It’s never enough. And that’s why we found ourselves having this discussion.

Love

The Kevin Love Roundtable – Part 1

 

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Kevin Love tells the Timberwolves he doesn’t want to stay in Minnesota or even talk a contract extension and all hell breaks lose. We wanted to give you, the fan, different takes and opinions on the sticky situation. This is Part 1 of our Kevin Love Roundtable discussion featuring Nick Allen, Zachary Bennett, Derek James as well as myself, Jonah Steinmeyer. 

Jonah Steinmeyer: Okay, guys. It’s been approximately 48 hours since the Kevin Love news struck Timberwolves nation (62 if you want to give any credit to the iffy New York Post). There’s been a lot of opinion and plenty of overreactions to the news.

First off, let’s just start with what your general feelings are.

Zachary Bennett: Adrian Wojnarowski is undoubtedly the first writer, with credibility, I’ve seen report rumors as they pertain to Kevin Love’s future; all the other ‘reports’ are similar to the NYP column that we saw on Saturday. So, is the gig up? Things feel up in the air, still, so I don’t expect any one-certain thing to happen. Although, I would prefer some things over others when discussing hypotheticals.

Derek James: Well, ultimately I’m not surprised by this news. I think that this was a bit of an inevitability after he was given the four year max instead of the five year max that he requested. As a fellow 25 year old, I understand Love’s desire to be successful and his frustration with the organization leading to his desire to venture to greener pastures. You know that you’re still young, but you want to reach that level of achievement of your peers and feel as if you’re falling behind despite the fact that everyone’s journey is their own.

It will have been seven years by the time it comes for him to opt-out, which is more than enough time to give an organization to prove that they’re the best place for them to be successful. He gave us a lot of great moments and will ultimately wish him well and enjoy watching him as his career goes forward. No hard feelings here.

Nick Allen: I thought it was a matter of time before this kind of news came out. The timing is a bit inconvenient as far as the search for a new coach goes, but it gives the Wolves an opportunity to figure out what they’re going to do with him before this year’s draft. That ultimately may not matter if they don’t end up trading him before the start of the season, but there’s a lot more uncertainty surrounding the Wolves right now than I’m comfortable with.

JS: Clearly you guys all share a very similar opinion at least on the news in general. I mean, Allen said it, it was only a matter of time. Minnesota’s not a great market. The weather is shitty. And the basketball history isn’t any good when you consider the Lakers technically own rights to all the good years.

But what I also think Allen hit on the head was regarding the timing on the whole thing. It’s a strange time because we don’t really know what set the news off. Are these feelings that he’s been hiding for a few years? Is it correlated to Adelman’s leaving? Ricky Rubio’s interview? What do you guys think about the timing on all of this?

ZB: I’m struggling to correlate to anything, because I’m still not sure where this came from. It’s likely denial, but if you do the digging, seems as if things remain still in both camps. Until this point the definitive value of Kevin Love hasn’t been determined; what is he worth? It’s a critical time for the Wolves, because of the implications player salary has while structuring for the future, each decision must be made carefully. All details should be taken into account; it’d be nice to know how much Love is worth.

DJ: It’s been said before, I think by Jon Krawczynski, that Love is very image-conscious and wants to make it a clean break. By letting the Timberwolves know now as opposed to later, and therefore avoid the will he/won’t he drama of Dwight Howard, it makes him look like the good guy by putting the team on the clock. If they get a good return, Love looks better because he gave the team enough time to work for the best deal. If they have to settle for table scraps, it’s not Love’s problem because he gave them lots of notice.

Now, I’m not implying that Love is manipulating the situation, but it makes perfect sense to me since it’s very important, especially with how big of a part Love is of the league’s image. I think that for everyone involved that the timing was rather perfect since it actually gives the team time to seek fair value. Although I don’t believe equal value really exists in these types of situations, unfortunately.

NA: I imagine Love has been frustrated for a few years now with the lack of success the Wolves have experienced. But, kind of like what Derek said, it does seem like Love is trying to give the Wolves an opportunity to work on something that will be best for the team. Well, “best for the team” would be keeping Love, but in a world where he leaves the team, they may need as much time to work on a deal as possible. Like Brian Windhorst said in his article (Which we’ll get to in a bit) about options for Love (and as Derek mentioned above), it’s tough for a team to get great value when moving a star out of town.

Screen Shot 2014-05-19 at 10.16.40 PM

Kevin Love’s quirks are undeniable

JS: You all bring up great points but I want to visit what Derek said first. You made the comparison between Love’s situation with the absolute debacle that Dwight Howard had in Orlando. He made it clear to the organization that he was unhappy and planned to opt-out when he could. But then the Magic actually put together a strong season, putting the pressure back onto Howard’s camp. That basically forced him to make peace with the franchise and its fanbase to opt-in at least for another season.

I may be naive thinking this but the Wolves could certainly end up like that Magic team. Love might have leverage now but, if the Wolves play really well as a group to start next season with Love still there, they could make the playoffs and even make some noise. I mean, we’re talking about a team with one of the league’s best point differentials and a heap of losses that were within the final minutes. Couldn’t they turn things around quickly and force Love’s hand at opting-in even for just one more season? Your thoughts…

ZB: There’s almost infinite positives and negatives to the ‘Magic Method,’ as I’ll put it. Personally, I wouldn’t dislike the decision to not trade Love before the season. Someone said it earlier, but equal value doesn’t exist in this scenario. The roster in place is built around Love, and, as Jonah mentioned, the team isn’t horrible and there were a few L’s that could have been W’s. Financially, J.J. Barea and Luc Mbah a Moute both have contracts that will expire at the end of next season — and if Love were to walk away — the circumstances of other contractual obligations will allow for enough cap-space to respond from being dumped by a superstar and getting nothing in return. If you thought the team was fun this season, next year the stress and emotions would only be higher.

DJ: It’s possible, especially if the team is able to be aggressive in upgrading the roster, namely the bench unit. There will also be room for improvement from Gorgui Dieng and Shabazz Muhammad, which is a rarity to say of Timberwolves draft picks and actually a big part of the reason that we’re in this predicament in the first place. It’s still risky because you risk losing him for nothing, but even if he opts in, I’m not confident that he stays based on everything that has transpired through the years.

Still, I think the Magic got a good return and as of now are well-positioned to be successful at some point in the future. And they did so by holding their ground, which is different than what Denver did with Melo and what the Jazz did with Deron Williams. Could this work for the Timberwolves? Possibly, but the biggest differences there was that they had proven front offices running the show. And in a lot of ways, this may be the defining moment of Flip Saunders’ brief tenure as the decision maker. What gets back and where he goes with those pieces will certainly sway the public opinion of him, because we don’t really know yet.

My point is, if you  have a smart front office, you can come away from these situations looking alright. So no matter if they trade him on draft day, mid-season or after he opts in, if he chooses to, it will require a sound plan for execution.

NA: It’s certainly possible. Like Zach has been saying, we only know so much about the situation and how much Love would want to stay in Minnesota if things were going well anyway. If reports are indeed true that Love is interested in playing for Golden State, who’s to say he hasn’t wanted to get back to his home state to play for a good team for a while now? Kobe demanded a trade from the Lakers, then ended up signing two more extensions after the team was able to bring success to the table again by trading for Pau. What are the odds of pulling something like that off, though? The offseason then becomes a bold attempt by the Wolves to bolster up their roster for essentially making a big run THIS year. There aren’t any guarantees in that scenario and it could really blow up in the Wolves’ face if they aren’t able to make the playoffs and end up losing Love.

I’d like to think the Wolves are a move or two away from making the playoffs with the roster they currently have, but ultimately I’m just not sure what could be done to change Love’s mind if he really wants to get out of town.

A young Kevin Love on draft night before traded to the Wolves from Grizzlies

A young Kevin Love on draft night before traded to the Wolves from Grizzlies

JS: So, the ‘Magic Method’ will be risky to say the least. But it could be a way the Wolves go in this situation. After all, Howard and Love run parallels in how they want their image perceived by the NBA universe. They’re the nice guy with a big game and want to be adored by all. It really might not be a bad idea but the risk of warming him up to the fans and hoping for a strong season from the team is very risky.

Now, Brian Windhorst wrote about some other ways the Wolves could handle this situation. One was dubbed “The Kobe Plan,” which I really read as “The Dwight Plan” because Kobe was in L.A., not Orlando. Two totally different situations, if you ask me. But the other two were intriguing. The first being “The Chris Paul Plan,” which talked about how Paul essentially gave time for the Hornets to evaluate the best possible trade that helped both parties as best they can. What a guy, eh? The second being “The Deron Williams/James Harden Plan,” where both players were shipped out almost immediately once management knew they couldn’t hold on to them much longer, hoping to get the best possible package in a ‘bidding war.’ What say you guys on either of those options on handling this situation with Love?

ZB: Alright, this is going to sound worse that I intend it to, but, seeing as how losing Love would spark all of the depressing “[defeatist] Minnesota Sports” narratives. Because the writing with this scenario has been on the wall, essentially, since the moment David Kahn got us into this mess — why not just ride it out? Hate to simplify this; but the Thunder had to trade Harden, right? The beef between the legendary Jazz coach Jerry Sloan and Williams certainly didn’t make him a fan favorite, so those situations were handled correctly from an outsider’s perspective. For Love and the Wolves, this has been an internal circumstance that Flip Saunders he arrived back in Minnesota. By keeping Love for the ‘14-’15 season, we’ll get to watch the ending of the mediocre movie we sat through this entire time, rather than thinking about what could have been.

DJ: I like the idea of the Kobe plan. Which is essentially the equivalent of telling a disenchanted lover, “Baby, I can change! I swear, I’ll be different!” and going out and grabbing a big name on the market to make a run that makes them change their mind. Or, as I like to call it: the #YOLO! plan. Go all-in. F*** s*** up, make some noise. I mean, what have they got to lose if Love is really gone anyway? Now, I realize the Kobe Plan is contingent on a team giving away their star for 10 cents on the dollar, but let’s not worry about that now.

KOBE PLAN! KOBE PLAN! KOBE PLAN!

NA: What I liked about the Chris Paul Plan was that it was essentially agreed upon that Paul would opt-in for his final year on the contract with whatever team was receiving him, guaranteeing the team two years with him instead of wondering whether or not they’d lose him right away. That would certainly make trading for Love more appealing to teams that may be in the market for him. As for the Williams/Harden Plan, I like the idea of a bidding war for Love because I’d like to think they’d at least be getting a decent deal, considering the situation. It would also be interesting to see what kind of offers would be thrown back and forth between teams. The one thing I really don’t want this all to come down to is a last-second deal before next season’s trade deadline because I’d hate to see the Wolves making some sort of panic deal.