For certain sports franchises, players are not so much developed as they are born. Randy Moss was born to be a Raider (he just got there at the wrong time). Derek Jeter is a natural Yankee. Jon Scheyer couldn’t have played anywhere but Duke. Kevin Nash was the perfect fit for the New World Order.
The Lakers are one of those iconic franchises for which certain players appear destined to play. It may not happen on Draft Night — it may not even happen within the first 10 years of their career — but one way or another, he will eventually suit up for the purple and gold, and don the Sunday whites.
Kevin Love is destined to play for the Lakers.
Now, I’m not trying to antagonize Minnesota Timberwolves fans. And there’s nothing scientific at all to back up my prediction. I haven’t talked to the Secret Scout, or hit up my man Sources Close To The Team to get a trade rumor. It’s purely a hunch, based on three main points: (1) Legacy, since Kevin’s father Stan Love is a former Laker who used Lakers/Celtics tapes to school Kevin on the game; (2) Location, since Kevin attended UCLA and was born in Santa Monica; and (3) Limelight, since Kevin clearly wants to tap into the Hollywood celebrity circle, with his multiple appearances on HBO’s “Entourage” and the blog he’s been keeping for GQ.
Watching K-Love (whose high school team in Oregon was nicknamed the Lakers) put up 23 points and 24 rebounds at the Staples Center earlier this week against the Lake Show only reinforced what I’ve been envisioning.
“If you can’t get up for playing the Lakers, you might as well go home,” Love told reporters after the Wolves’ loss.
It doesn’t help matters (if you’re a Wolves fan) that Love and Minnesota coach Kurt Rambis are engaged in a beef just a couple of weeks into Rambis’ second season with the team.
After coming off the bench much of last season and making it clear he didn’t like it, this was supposed to be the year Love got his shot at being the Wolves’ franchise centerpiece, with Al Jefferson gone to Utah and Michael Beasley as the only other T-Wolf resembling a potential superstar.
But after an impressive preseason, Love has again seen his playing time go up and down at Rambis’ confusing whim. During crunch time of the season-opening win over Sacramento, Love was on the bench while Rambis went with Darko Milicic and Anthony Tolliver. It wasn’t until the season’s fifth game that Love cracked 30 minutes in one night. Even after his career night against the Lakers, Rambis was almost backhanded in his compliments. (“Over last couple days, he’s really made some strides in terms of his effort,” said Rambis.) In last night’s win at Sacramento, Love had a modest 8 points and 9 rebounds — leaving his averages at 16.5 points and 12.1 boards per game — and didn’t make any impact until the fourth quarter.
Don’t discount the fact that Rambis is a former Lakers player and assistant coach. If he confides in Phil Jackson or Mitch Kupchak that K-Love doesn’t fit what he’s trying to do, they’ll gladly devise a plan to take the 22-year-old power forward off Minnesota’s hands.
Basketball-wise, Love just fits with the Lakers. Even if the next coach after Jackson doesn’t run the triangle offense, Love’s ability to dominate the offensive and defensive glass, hit jump shots, and start fast breaks with pinpoint outlet passes complements a veteran group that knows how to play together and thrives on strong interior basketball. Love would instantly make Pau Gasol and Kobe Bryant‘s lives easier. Put it this way: If you’re running the Lakers and you could trade Andrew Bynum straight-up for Love, would you do it? I would.
The tricky part would be making it happen. A trade for Bynum isn’t realistic because the salaries are too far apart, although I’d never underestimate Jerry West‘s Corleone-esque way of making the impossible possible. Still, Bynum is making superstar money, whereas Love is still on his rookie contract that pays him an average of $4.1 million over this season and next. What L.A. could do next summer is send inconsistent Lamar Odom to Minnesota for K-Love and, say, Luke Ridnour. Convince Wolves GM David Kahn that his young team needs a two-time (three-time?) NBA champion like Odom to instill a winning culture, that Ridnour is expendable since Ricky Rubio is (supposedly) coming to Minnesota soon, and Love isn’t worth the chemistry problems if he’s not getting along with Rambis. Odom can rebound, and alongside Beasley the two left-handers would create a slew of matchup nightmares for Wolves opponents.
Of course, Kahn would need a reason to entertain K-Love trade pitches in the first place, which K-Love would take care of by making it clear he doesn’t want to be in Minnesota. Which is as easy as a few strategically-placed quotes in the media and one Lakers hat covering his head at the next “Entourage” taping.
Granted, that’s far-fetched. K-Love doesn’t have to try that hard to force a trade, because one way or another, it’s happening. Kevin Love will be on the Lakers sooner rather than later. Just watch.