Let’s talk two forms of background before we delve into the hypotheticals. First: who is Kevin Love?
Kevin Love, the second of three children, was born September 7, 1988 to Stan and Karen Love in Santa Monica, Calif. not far from the campus of UCLA. Within a year, the family would move to the Lake Oswego, Oregon area. Love’s father, Stan, is an interesting enough story himself. A graduate of Morningside High School in Inglewood, Calif. Stan played basketball at the University of Oregon from 1968-71, twice leading the then-Pacific 8 conference in scoring. He was inducted into the University of Oregon athletics Hall of Fame in 1994 but not before the then-Baltimore Bullets drafted him 9th overall in 1971. Stan would play professionally for four seasons, from 1971-75, finishing with career averages of 6.6 ppg and 3.9 rpg in his time in the NBA and ABA. More notably for some, however, Stan is the younger brother of Mike Love, founding member of the Beach Boys, and cousin of Brian, Carl and Dennis Wilson, all members of the Beach Boys as well. Stan was even employed for more than a decade as bodyguard and assistant to Brian in the 70’s and 80’s before his tenure ended in a legal dispute.
Back to Kevin, who attended Lake Oswego High School and dominated in his three years on the varsity squad including a senior season that saw per game averages of 33.9 ppg, 17.0 rpg and 4.0 apg. Kevin was named the 2007 Gatorade National Player of the Year, as well as a McDonalds All-American and chose to play collegiately at UCLA
In his one season at UCLA, Love averaged 17.5 ppg, 10.6 rpg and shot 55.9% from the field as well as 35.4 % from beyond the arc and 76.7% at the charity stripe. His accolades that season included being named Pac-10 Player of the Year as well as named to both the All Pac-10 First Team and first team AP All-American (a consensus selection). Love and his UCLA teammates – including future NBA players Russell Westbrook, Darren Collison and Luc Richard Mbah a Moute – would go as far as the Final Four where they fell 78-63 to a John Callipari-coached Memphis Tigers squad that included Derrick Rose and Chris Douglas-Roberts.
On June 26, 2008 in the NBA Draft, the Memphis Grizzlies selected Love fifth overall and promptly dealt him – along with Brian Cardinal, Mike Miller and the now infamous Jason Collins – to Minnesota for O.J. Mayo, Antoine “I Don’t Have Any Money” Walker, Greg Buckner and Marko Jaric. Love burst on the scene as a double-double machine (More rhymes!) and has now solidified himself as one of, if not the best big men in the NBA. Love has been named to the Western Conference All-Star team in three of the last four seasons, the only exception being the 2012-13 season in which he broke two bones in his hand. Love has ranked in the Top 5 in PER each of those aforementioned three seasons and this last year posted per game averages of 26.1 ppg (4th in NBA), 12.5 rpg (3rd in NBA), 4.4 apg (career-high), 45.7% from the field, 37.6% from beyond the arc and 82.1% from the free throw stripe.
So we’ve now established Love is a great player, one of the best in the league, meaning it’s time for our second piece of background: why we’re talking about Kevin Love (he’s giving us something to talk about). Almost a year and a half ago, the Minnesota Timberwolves signed Kevin Love to a 4 year, $60 million contract extension. However, the last guaranteed year of that deal is the upcoming 2014-15 season (the 2015-16 season is a player option worth just shy of $17 million) and reports are surfacing from league sources that Love is likely to exercise his Early Termination Option and explore the free agent market. This brings me to the notes I started drafting Sunday afternoon as these reports were surfacing…
Mixed in among the bullets are links to projections using ESPN’s Trade Machine tool in which I tinkered around and proposed some possible transactions that would send away Kevin Love. However, the “Trade Machine” tool does not allow for draft picks or extra cash, which will both certainly be part of any Love trade.
– If I’m the Minnesota Timberwolves, you gotta deal Love now. You’ll still have Rubio, Pekovic and Gorgui Dieng, and that’s a fairly solid young core to build around. Deal a couple of your second rounders this year – and maybe one of your second rounders next year – to move up again into this year’s first round. Add another piece to that core and with your return in a Kevin Love deal, you could be fine…with the right coach.
– Now, from Kevin Love’s standpoint? Yeah Chicago would be interesting. But in the short term you’ll be in a crowded front court with Carlos Boozer and Joakim Noah…unless Chicago sends Boozer’s expiring contract to Minnesota in a deal, which might have to happen. And yes, you’d have Derrick Rose…in theory. But in reality? You may never have Derrick Rose. He’s played in 49 games THE LAST THREE SEASONS COMBINED. Franklin Gutierrez, Steve Zakuani, Erik Bedard, end-of-career Johan Santana…name your comparison, Rose is always going to be injured so any concept of heading to Minnesota to pair up with Rose is fairly ludicrous. So let’s move on to the possibilty of Golden State which, yes, if I’m Love I think that makes a ton of sense. San Fran is amazing and you’d be on the same floor with a great shooting backcourt. So no problems there. For Minnesota? I’m seeking Harrison Barnes, David Lee (I guess? You’re not winning now so why do you really want David Lee?) and I’d say Draymond Green. Harrison Barnes and Draymond Green would be an okay return. Obviously you’d love to try and get a pick or two out of Kevin Love too, but GSW ain’t got much to offer.
– See, the problem I see with the Morris twins – and obviously I haven’t watched them enough to know how true this is but still – is that the two of them are good role players who only play well when they’re both on the same team. Could I see them on a championship team together? Sure, why not. Could I see them on a team that is young and trying to improve, develop and build for the future en route to winning a championship? Not so much. It’s really almost exactly like drafting the Webber twins. You either have both or neither.
– The problem with dealing Love to Indiana in any kind of two team swap is that the Pacers don’t have the pieces to facilitate the deal and not make themselves much, much better and the Timberwolves much, much worse.
– The other issue in all of this is that if you’re dealing Kevin Love – which, if reports of Love not wanting to re-sign in Minesota are true, then you have to – you’re trading away far and away the biggest reason for someone like a Tom Izzo/Fred Hoiberg to come coach your team. I refuse to throw Billy Donovan in that mix like others have. Remember when Billy Donovan was going to coach the Orlando Magic? Remember when Billy Donovan never coached a game for the Orlando Magic? Let’s stop throwing his name around for NBA jobs. The fit just doesn’t seem right. Hoiberg is an entirely different story. 10 seasons in the NBA, and now with at least a wee bit of coaching experience under his belt, tell me Hoiberg could be a solid NBA head coach. In regards to Izzo, I get the sense that his presence as a basketball man in the midwest is so big that he could just walk right in to the Timberwolves job…but I don’t really feel that great about that either. Some college coaches can make the transition — I still think Brad Stevens, for example, will be one of them. Others can’t. Check yourself before you wreck yourself.
– Alright fine we’re going back to talking Kevin Love, because Adrian Wojnarowski tweeted earlier that the Rockets would be interested in Love. I guess there’s some kind of bond between McHale and Love and I don’t want to know what that means at all. You’ve got to assume Daryl Morey is imagining a “Big Three” of Love/Howard/Harden, which frankly means everyone else would be up for grabs in a trade. Again, if you’re Minnesota, you gotta keep in mind as a bargaining chip that Love is being dealt to a place where they’re going to sign him to a long-term deal, which is to say you’re telling potential trade partners, “You’re trading for multiple years of Kevin Love, so don’t deal us assets equivelant to one year of Kevin Love.” As such, the T-Wolves “young core” needs a wing, so I’d aim for Chandler Parsons. That seems fair, right? Maybe try and throw in Kevin Martin because ugh Kevin Martin. If you throw in Maritn, you oughta be able to get Omer Asik and have yourself a talented front court trifecta of Asik/Pekovic/Dieng.
– I’ll temper the “ugh Kevin Martin” by saying he certainly improved on his year with OKC, but he’s 31 and under contract for too long at too much money. If you’re trying to build your team – which the Timberwovles should be – you don’t have Kevin Martin as part of your “core.”
– OH DAMMIT ADRIAN WOJNAROWSKI. Adrian’s now saying Boston is emerging as a potential landing spot for the Love machine. Danny Ainge has proven he is not afraid to make a trade for the right pieces. Love/Rondo and…Jeff Green? Or Jared Sullinger? Or…maybe somebody they take in this year’s draft? Okay Danny, you may have the right crew in place then to get back to competing and keeping Boston fans excited.
That’s what I’ve got right now. Keep your eyes and ears to the grindstone, folks. If the Timberwolves have any sense about them, this deal will be made soon.