Minnesota Timberwolves superstar Kevin Love has made it very clear that he wants out. Where he will end up right now is unclear, although Timberwolves GM and Head Coach Flip Saunders has stated that 16 teams have expressed interest in Love. But, because Kevin Love has a player option to become a free agent in 2015, he has the rare privilege of having his opinion matter. There are 3 points we must look at before creating trade scenarios:
1. Minnesota is not going to win any of these trades
Kevin Love is a unique and irreplaceable talent, and a top 10 player in the league. No team that has the talent to acquire Love and match his production is going to trade it away.
2. Kevin Love must end up on a team ready to win
Because Love holds the cards here, he will not allow himself to be traded to a rebuilding project.
3. Minnesota will want a starting power forward to replace Kevin Love
Any position your franchise player occupies is an important one. Timberwolves cannot be left with a hole like that to fill.
With that said, let’s see the most likely destinations for Kevin Love and what the Timberwolves will recieve in exchange for his services
Minnesota Timberwolves Receive: Taj Gibson, Mike Dunleavy, Jimmy Butler, 2014 16th Overall Pick
Chicago Bulls Receive: Kevin Love
Why Minnesota does it
The Timberwolves are not left with a void at the power forward position. Taj Gibson burst onto the scene with a spectacular 2013-2014 campaign, solidifying himself as one of the best 6th men in the league, though clearly a better player than the man starting in his place: Carlos Boozer. They receive a deadly 3 point shooter in Dunleavy and can upgrade defensively with defensive savant Jimmy Butler. With the 16th pick from Chicago, they can grab someone like Zach LaVine, an explosive high-upside player ready to contribute.
Why Chicago does it
Even without a healthy Derrick Rose for the past 2 seasons, the Bulls have continued to make the playoffs and are still one of the most frightening defensive teams in the league. Led by Defensive Player of the Year Joakim Noah, this team prides itself on its ability to halt opposing offenses and get big stops when they need it. They could use some help on the offensive side, though. Despite losing some key pieces, the Bulls put themselves in a great position by doing this trade. With the addition of the best power forward in the league, the Bulls receive a big man who can create his own offense and make a shot from anywhere on the court. His defensive shortcomings have been well noted, but can be masked by Joakim Noah’s prowess in the paint. If Derrick Rose returns to his 2010-2011 form and the Bulls amnesty Boozer (as they should), they will be able to chase a big name free agent or proven role players and contend for a championship.
Golden State Warriors
Minnesota Receives: David Lee, Klay Thompson, Harrison Barnes, Draymond Green
Golden State Receives: Kevin Love, Kevin Martin
Why Minnesota Does it
David Lee is the best power forward the Wolves are going to get in a trade. While he lacks the shooting touch from outside, Lee has everything else Love has; he has a variety of post moves, a dependable mid-range jumper, and a noticeable lack of defense. Klay Thompson comes over to replace Kevin Martin, two very similar players, but Thompson offers the upside of youth. Harrison Barnes and Draymond Green are good young pieces to have as well, as both can develop into steady role players. This trade allows the Timberwolves to remain competitive without feeling the loss of Kevin Love too hardly.
Why Golden State Does it
Steve Kerr, the new Warriors head coach, has stated that he wants a stretch 4. Love is the best stretch 4 in the league. Que trade. While Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson, or The Splash Brothers, have formed a formidable tandem, this move is for the best. They receive veteran leadership from a player who does the exact same thing as Klay: shoot threes in bunches and make a lot of them. Harrison Barnes wasn’t looking great this year with the Dubs, so perhaps a change of location is for the best. The loss of Green is something the Warriors can live with, as Kevin Loves arrival immediately pushes this playoff team into title contention.
Minnesota receives: Gerald Green, Channing Frye, Markieff Morris, 2014 14th overall pick
Phoenix receives: Kevin Love
Why Minnesota does it
Similar to the Taj Gibson scenario stated above, Markieff Morris was one of the best 6th men in the league after a breakout year who is more than capable of starting at power forward. Gerald Green is a tremendous dunker and shooter, giving some much needed excitement to a team losing its best player. Channing Frye is a capable big man who can shoot the 3, like a poor man’s Kevin Love.
Why Phoenix does it
Here, Phoenix receives an immediate and fantastic upgrade at power forward. Although they lose Green, the threes will still come in bunches, as Kevin Love will be playing in an offense that loves to shoot from deep, and he will be more than happy to help. Phoenix still has the 18th overall pick in this year’s draft, so the opportunity to draft young talent is still there.
Minnesota receives: Chandler Parsons, Terrence Jones, Omer Asik, 2014 25th overall pick
Houston recieves: Kevin Love
Why Minnesota does it
Terrence Jones was a very underrated player last year. He broke out onto the scene as a terrific rebounder and low block scorer. He has one of the best handles for a big man, and although he offers a totally different skill set than Love, he would fit right in on the same court as Ricky Rubio. Chandler Parsons is a gifted all-around player who would be an immediate upgrade over Corey Brewer. Brewer would go to the bench as Minnesota happily lets its new small forward score at will. Omer Asik is the only problem here. While still a good player, his contract is enormous, and the Timberwolves are already set at center with Nikola Pekovic and Gorgui Dieng. Asik is only included for salary-matching purposes. While Minnesota isn’t going to find a franchise player with the 25th pick, last year’s horrible bench unit could always use a little more help.
Why Houston does it
The next big three. These players are all young and in their primes, and also all top 15 players. They would have 2 prolific scorers and 2 dominant rebounders, as well as the best big man tandem in the league. It’s a dream come true for Houston, no matter what they give up to get Love. The floor spacing and rebounding would be nothing short of elite, only adding to what was already one of the best offenses in the league. They may lose some important cogs in the mix, but the potential is worth it. A true title contender that doesn’t get bounced in the first round.
Minnesota receives: Jeff Green, Jared Sullinger, Kelly Olynyk, 2014 6th overall pick, 2014 17th overall pick
Boston receives: Kevin Love
Why Minnesota does it
Jeff Green is a good scorer who also plays good defense. Nothing too special that jumps off the page, but a pretty reliable player. Sullinger is a player with an incredibly high ceiling, but has yet to hit his full potential. He is still very young and has been referred to as a possible Kevin Love of the East, which is a far cry from the actual Kevin Love of the West. Kelly Olynyk has a lot to work on, but could find a niche on any team. The 6th overall pick is where it gets interesting. The 3 top power forwards in the draft (Aaron Gordon, Noah Vonleh, Julius Randle) will most likely be picked with the 5th, 6th, and 7th picks. With Bostons first pick, Minnesota will probably be able to draft one of the two remaining power forwards to find Kevin Love’s future replacement.
Why Boston does it
Boston is in the fortunate position to be in the Eastern Conference. Any of the lower spots in the playoffs are wide open to a team hoping to make a big leap. Kevin Love would certainly be the focal point of this offense, and led by Rajan Rondo, the two could form a dangerous pair. Kevin Love gets his wish of playing in a big market team, as well as getting an easier ticket into the playoffs for the first time in his career.
Any team would be happy to have Love on their team. Its only a question of which one. There’s also the possibility that Flip Saunders believes that after one more off-season, he can bring Kevin Love to the playoffs. The Timberwolves have a solid core already. The only reason they lost as many games as they did was because of one of the worst bench units in the entire league. An offseason of focussing on that bench could do wonders for this team.