Wolves, Cavs agree to a Kevin Love deal

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Just about teammates, Love and LeBron have lofty goals in Cleveland

The one, the only Adrian Wojnarowski reported earlier this morning that the Wolves and Cavs have agreed upon a trade in principle that will ship Kevin Love to the Cavs for Andrew Wiggins, Anthony Bennett and a future 1st round pick. Perhaps the biggest piece of the deal is the assurance from Love’s camp that he’ll agree to a new contract, which will seal up his future in Cleveland for the foreseeable future.

Unless you live under a rock, this isn’t news to you. In fact, if you’ve been paying attention at all over the past three weeks, you would’ve known that this whole thing was inching closer and closer to completion. After all, it makes all sorts of sense for both of these teams to reach the alleged deal.

Cleveland just secured a once-in-a-lifetime second chance after LeBron James decided to ‘go home,’ but now the pressure is on to not blow like the first time around. Lucky enough for them, LeBron is now older, wiser and even better than he ever was in Cleveland. But, in basketball, we’ve learned that a team always triumphs over the individual, a lesson LeBron learned the hard way in Miami. That’s why the Cavaliers can’t afford to hand the ball to LeBron and say, “Have at it!” They need talent beyond him and Kyrie Irving, which is exactly why Love will help those three form, perhaps, one of the most deadly triple threats the league has ever seen. And one thing Cleveland still has, despite the trade, that Miami could never really figure out completely was depth up and down the roster. They’re still looking to shore things up at the moment, including looking at Shawn Marion, but for the most part, their youth and depth seem to give them an advantage. Miami never had a guy as good as Dion Waiters as their fourth player. They never had a true rim protector like Anderson Varejao — barring he stays healthy. They never even had a power, hustle forward like Cleveland does in Tristan Thompson.

The Cavaliers roster isn’t quite there yet to name them the unanimous title favorites but it’s a much improved scene over the cast of mistfits that Miami continually brought in on the veteran minimum with the promise of a championship. This core of young guys led by LeBron are hungry for a title, perhaps none more than Love himself. The thing that will really help Love mature is having a true leader to follow suit. In Minnesota, he was supposed to be that guy, but a poor attitude and a lack of vocal leadership hindered him in ever becoming a true leader. The skills and the game are there to be a team’s number one option but it was the swag and confidence in his teammates that never followed. Playing alongside the game’s best player and a worldwide icon will give Love a better opportunity to play to his characteristics and personality, while not forcing a leader to come out of him.

I can’t state enough how fortunate the Cavaliers have been through this entire offseason. Rarely does one team get a chance to run out the best player in the world in their jersey, but now another top-five player in the league will be right alongside him in the Wine & Gold.

But those opportunities don’t just fall into your lap. There was a price to pay, and that price was the potential of Andrew Wiggins. Notice that I said “potential” there because that will become ever-so important once you see this kid play his first game for Minnesota.

I’ve been a big Wiggins fan for a few years. Got to watch him play on the best AAU circuit in the country, the Nike Elite Youth Basketball League. He led his CIA Bounce team, alongside friend and teammate Tyler Ennis, to the championship game, where they fell to the Aaron Gordon-led Oakland Soldiers. But then even through college, where he played at one of my favorite programs Kansas. He wasn’t a star by any means but he oozed with potential and still was able to throw in some of the most impressive plays that most college kids couldn’t ever pull off.

The problem with Wiggins is his consistency and passive-aggressive nature on the court. Overall, his year at Kansas was solid. It wasn’t enough to garner talk of the first overall pick like Michael Beasley’s freshman year did but it was good enough to pair with his NBA potential at such a young age to justify the pick. The problem was that, scattered throughout the season, were some really poor performances, especially scoring-wise.

How about three points on 1-5 shooting in a big conference game with Oklahoma State? Or how about seven points on 2-12 shooting against Texas? Better yet, the show-stopper, a measly four points in Kansas’ tournament-ending performance against Stanford in the second round? The evidence shows that Wiggins’ poor games happen more than just poor shooting nights. He tends to disappear in games — at least on offense — which is by no means a trait of any superstar in this league.

But what Wiggins does best doesn’t show up in the stat sheets. He’s an above-average defender as it stands right now, and he’ll only get better as he learns assignments better. He’s also been very durable over the course of his career (Knock on wood). He makes a lot of things happen on the court simply due to his elite athleticism that many players couldn’t even fathom. It doesn’t all add up and make a pretty stat line but he’s been doing what it takes to win games at every level he’s been at. That’s something Love can’t quite say yet in his career.

Alongside Wiggins in the deal is Anthony Bennett. I’m not huge on Bennett. I believe he’s simply a newer version of Derrick Williams with even a shakier jump shot and less athleticism. That doesn’t bode well moving forward, but what I do like about Bennett is the will and the want to get better. He had one of the worst statistical seasons ever last year, of any player, so Bennett knows what’s at stake. In order to improve, you have to work very hard at it. Bennett came into Summer League having lost a good amount of weight, had his tonsils removed, so he’s breathing on the court better. There was no slacking off in getting prepared for this season because he knows it’s a big one.

The toughest part of this trade is imagining the drop-off from last year’s starting 4 to this year’s potentially starting 4. Love was the best statistical power forward in the league, while Bennett was the complete opposite. And as it stands right now, Bennett is the best option at that slot. That’s scary. So unless they can flip Bennett or find another way to deal for Thaddeus Young, as rumor has it the Wolves’ interest in acquiring him from the 76ers is very high. I like the idea of bringing in Young to have Bennett sculpt his game in the mold of his, while coming off the bench. Otherwise, as things stand currently, the Wolves are set to take a huge step back in terms of production of their starting five, and that’s very scary for a team that missed the playoffs for the tenth straight season this Spring.

All in all the trade was a huge success just in terms of getting something substantial in return for a mega-star, who made it known that he had zero intentions of staying in Minnesota past this coming season. He was going to walk, leaving the Wolves with nothing but his statistical records in the books. So for that very reason, to pull off a deal for a player with high aspirations in this league and another that looks to be climbing a mountain, is a great deal for Flip Saunders and the Wolves. It doesn’t necessarily dawn yet another full rebuild but fans must be willing to accept the step backwards and be ready for brighter days ahead with a roster constructed in the right manner.

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Andrew Wiggins Just Wants to be Wanted

Before we begin, I need you to do me a big favor. Just watch that video below and do your absolute best to watch it to the end. I promise this isn’t some trick that’s going to show you some close-up of Paul George’s mangled shin bone, but I’d be lying if I told you it wasn’t pretty brutal as well, just in a completely different sense.

Okay, now that that’s over, let’s begin to bash the brutally pathetic reporting/journalistic skills of that interview. I’m not going to bash Bram Weinstein for the interview questioning because he probably didn’t come up with the questions. But, on the other hand, since he was the “journalist” pestering Wiggins into answering those bizarrely unfair questions, he’s getting grouped in on this rant.

See it like this: there’s a more-than-likely potential trade that’s about to go down. Somehow, some way Kevin Love is going to be wearing a Cavaliers jersey by the beginning of next season. That much we know, especially after Glen Taylor admitted as much in a recent interview. But the whole proprietor of a coming deal — Kevin Love’s camp — has been pretty mum on the whole thing. Rather, they’ve taken on the Minnesota nature and played the situation so painfully passive-aggressively that it’s forced the media to take on the narrative themselves.

That in itself can be a huge problem, especially in today’s world of lightning-fast news via Twitter without needing so much as a “BREAKING” or “SOURCES” taking up very few of your precious 140 character “report.” Because of the national firestorm that can catch ablaze in just seconds nowadays, the Love trade has risen to a whole new level, like that new storm movie. And Andrew Wiggins’ interview was the tipping point of it getting out of control.

This is how I see it: Wiggins is a 19-year old. He probably plays a lot of video games, eats candy and junk food and stays up probably way too late. He’s a teenager through and through despite the fact that he can leap into the sky 45-inches on average. But he’s still just a kid, and because of one media outlets attempt to prove their reports right — that Love-for-Wiggins is near inevitable — that latest interview is the byproduct of sticking an innocent player in the middle of a battlefield. In my honest opinion as, 1) a fan of basketball, the NBA and the Timberwolves, and; 2) a former student of the art of journalism with a degree in PROFESSIONAL Journalism and Sports Management, I believe ESPN hung out one of its subjects to dry, and if he wasn’t so inclined to being the top overall draft pick in a worldwide-recognized sport, his agent, his camp and he himself would never do such an interview again for ESPN.

In the middle of watching horrible interview, I couldn’t help but think, “Where’s Kevin Love?” After all, he’s the proprietor, remember? He’s the one wanting out of his current situation, and in order to grant him that, there will be some innocent bystanders affected such as Wiggins and perhaps Anthony Bennett. So why not go after him with these kinds of questions? Pressure him into answering, “Since you’re not sure what jersey you’re wearing next year, how do you feel?” Or “What do you have to say to Minneapolis or Cleveland about playing for them in their respective cities?”

Maybe ESPN was smart in grabbing the innocent, know-nothing player involved here. Maybe they thought they could get him to say something everyone doesn’t already suspect because he is just a rookie. After all, he doesn’t know any better, and he himself said he’s just a rookie, he has no say. But if you take that approach, you’re just furthering the notion that ESPN reprehended its duty as a journalistic outlet by trying to play “gotcha” journalism with someone who didn’t know any better. On top of that, they unveiled a genuine lack of being able to choose frontline sources to confirm reports of their own. Wiggins himself, as a rookie in the NBA, isn’t going to be told a damn thing about any trade he may or may not be involved in. For one, that’d be a massive misstep in following the rules by the Cavaliers, and two, why should Wiggins be involved in that process? He himself, once again, said he’s just a rookie, he has no say. So shame on ESPN for believe that he could give insight into a closed-lips process since the very beginning.

Wiggins himself, the Cavaliers and the Timberwolves all have a right to be upset with ESPN’s interview yesterday. It was a poor, pathetic attempt to wiggle their way further into the reports they themselves created, while leaving the rookie to fend for himself. If you didn’t think he felt “wanted” before, now they probably made things even worse. The interview could’ve been very simple. A couple “How’s your life changed so far?”, “Have you met any new people along the way?”. That would’ve been easy, made for a watchable interview and then still carried out their initial prerogative by dropping just one potential trade question in there, and not conduct the interview with a barrage of FULLY-LOADED questions that were going to get the kid in trouble.

If there ever were a time Wiggins would want to feel “wanted” it was definitely after something like that. And it probably doesn’t even matter which franchise warmed him up with blankets and hot cocoa. But I can assure you this, judging by the backlash on the Internet by Wolves fans everywhere, Minnesota is going to be a place that genuinuely wants to have Wiggins a part of this team’s future. As a team that’s struggled greatly to just get back to the postseason in over 10 years, adding high-quality young talent is a must, whenever they see fit. In other words, the Wolves couldn’t ever have enough star-potential guys under the age of 22. Wiggins would be the cream of the crop, if the trade were to go down, and fans here would go ballistic to see him as part of this franchise.

So if Wiggins’ true feelings are to simply play for a team that wants him, loves him for who he is, and will be patient enough to live through his mistakes in order to get better, Minnesota is the place for him.

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.

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Kevin Love Rumor Mill churning again

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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!”

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.

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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.