Unless you’ve been living under a rock for the past week, you’ve probably heard three-time NBA All-Star Kevin Love is planning on opting out of his contract in Minnesota next summer. It’s no surprise the 25-year old superstar now seeks greener pastures after his club has failed to reach the postseason in all of his six seasons. Love’s 26.1 points and 12.3 rebounds per game last season make him arguably a top-10 player in the Association and certainly a key ingredient for becoming an NBA contender.
Now that the NBA Lottery has taken place (and Cleveland’s luck has brought out the conspiracy theorists again), we have a better idea of what teams may have the most leverage moving forward in a potential K-Love trade. If you’re Minnesota, its highly unlikely a trade returns a player of Love’s caliber. What they will be able to get is a plethora of young talent and draft picks. He’s already been rumored in connection with the Knicks and Celtics, but only one of them has the picks to actually make a Love trade happen.
With that being said, we take a look at the five most likely deals that will bring Minnesota both young assets and draft picks as they attempt to rebuild.
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TRADE No. 1
Boston: Kevin Love
Minnesota: Jared Sullinger, 6th Pick (2014), 2015 Clippers 1st Round Pick, 2018 Nets First Rounder, Nets Trade Exception ($10,275,136)
Why Minnesota Does This: Boston has stockpiled a surplus of first rounders after perfectly executing the theft of Brooklyn’s first rounders last summer. Think about this for a second. Boston traded Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce and Jason Terry to Brooklyn and got three first rounders in return. A year later, Garnett may retire, Pierce is a free agent and Terry has already been traded. While Boston could use any combination of those picks to acquire Love, throw in Jared Sullinger (who averaged 13 points and eight boards this season) and we may have “fireworks” again in Boston. Boston GM Danny Ainge has also recently said that he would consider trading for a superstar without a contract extension, which may be tougher for a smaller market team such as Cleveland to swallow. Celtic great Kevin McHale may no longer be in Minny but this deal has 2007 written all over it.
Why Boston Does This: It puts them on the fast track once again for contention. Kevin Love paired with Rajon Rondo would instantly be an upgrade for the UCLA product. The combination of Avery Bradley, Jeff Green and Kelly Olynyk along with their remaining draft picks gives Boston the option to move for a third star and instantly become a contender in the weaker Eastern Conference. Love might not be Larry Bird 2.0 but he would certainly be welcomed by Celtic Nation with open arms.
TRADE No. 2
Golden State: Kevin Love
Minnesota: Harrison Barnes, David Lee, Festus Ezeli, 2015 1st Round Pick
Why Minnesota Does This: They may downgrade at the PF with David Lee, but Lee is no slouch as a two-time All-Star. Lee is 6 years older than Love but throw Harrison Barnes, Festus Ezeli and a future first rounder into the equation and suddenly, this deal is that much more intriguing for Minnesota. They might not necessarily get better right away, but they get two proven professionals in return with a future pick.
Why Golden State Does This: Steph Curry, Kevin Love, Klay Thompson and Andre Igoudala. That’s why.
Click for three more of Minney’s most likely trade partners…
TRADE No. 3
Houston: Kevin Love
Minnesota: Chandler Parsons, Omer Asik, Terrence Jones
Why Minnesota Does This: This might be the best package Minnesota could hope to get in return. Chandler Parsons may not be on Kevin Love’s level but he is a much cheaper piece to build around, and he’s still on his rookie deal. Omer Asik has been on the trading block since Dwight Howard arrived in Houston and Terrence Jones is a young player who showed flashes this past season with averages of 12 points and 8 rebounds. All three of these players are proven in this league and if Minnesota is looking for a group of good players that are more of a sure thing than future draft picks, Houston may become a likely trading partner.
Why Houston Does This: It puts them over the top and gets them out of the first round. Houston could be reluctant to part ways with Parsons but a D12/K-Love front court would potentially dominate the West for the next 5-plus years. This may seem like a lot for Houston to give up but it’s likely that whoever deals for Love is going to have to pay up.
TRADE No. 4
Cleveland: Kevin Love, Shabazz Muhammad
Minnesota: 1st Pick (2014), Jarrett Jack, Dion Waters, Tristan Thompson
Why Minnesota Does This: Minnesota gets to choose between Andrew Wiggins, Joel Embiid and Jabari Parker for their next franchise player. They also add a couple of nice pieces in Dion Waiters and Tristan Thompson. Rubio, Waiters, Wiggins, Thompson and Pekovic could have a bright future together in the West.
Why Cleveland Does This: Cleveland convinces their star point guard Kyrie Irving to stay and pairs him with another superstar in Kevin Love. A LeBron James signing may be unrealistic but retaining Luol Deng in this situation would not be that far fetched, potentially forming one of the best trios in the Eastern Conference.
TRADE No. 5
Phoenix: Kevin Love
Minnesota: Eric Bledsoe, Channing Frye, Alex Len, 14th pick (2014)
Why Minnesota Does This: The T’Wolves get an exciting player in Eric Bledsoe, who could be a future All-Star in the right situation and a 7-foot sophomore in Alex Len. Len possesses a boatload of potential and could have been the first pick in last year’s draft if it wasn’t for his ankle injury. In addition, Phoenix has the draft picks necessary (three first rounders this year) to sweeten the pot for Flip Saunders and Co. in Minnesota.
Why Phoenix Does This: Phoenix gets to pair the NBA’s most improved player Goran Dragic with Love. Many were skepitcal on whether Dragic could play in the backcourt with Bledsoe and while the duo silenced their critics, the Suns still had a winning record without Bledsoe in the lineup. It may be a little soon to give up on a 24-year-old guard, but when Kevin Love becomes available, you throw everything, including the kitchen sink, at Minnesota.
What do you think?
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