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How the Timberwolves should get rid of Kevin Love

Love had the best season of his six-year career, finishing fourth in scoring and
MinnPost file photo by Craig Lassig
Kevin Love had the best season of his six-year career, finishing fourth in scoring and third in rebounding while more than doubling his career assist rate.

Remember when LeBron James was the most notorious choker in the NBA, scorned and belittled for opting to align himself with alpha dog Dwyane Wade in Miami in order to finally win a championship? Or, closer to home, remember the contentious debates about Kevin Garnett not seize the game by the throat for the Timberwolves, a fact that many blamed for the Wolves inability to consistently advance in the playoffs?

Perhaps you remember these things, but posterity won’t. Two rings and four straight NBA Finals appearances later, LeBron is sidling up to the legacy of Michael Jordan in debates about the greatest player of all time. As for KG, it took a mere year for his championship run with the Boston Celtics to quash any aspersions about his crunch-time capabilities.

Basketball stars who suffer the misfortune of decidedly inferior teammates will find the flaws in their own game put under a microscope and their character placed under suspicion. The only antidote to this hellish scrutiny is winning, especially winning big — preferably a championship.

This is why it is almost impossible to imagine Kevin Love playing basketball for the Minnesota Timberwolves in 2015-16. He’s not stupid, masochistic, or good-naturedly naïve. There simply is not enough time to post enough wins to salvage the relationship between Love and the Wolves.

The loud bust

Last season stamped Love’s walking papers. His coach, Rick Adelman, is a future Hall of Famer. After an injury-plagued campaign in 2012-13, his team’s owner, Glen Taylor, doubled down on his investment to improve the performance of a franchise that had a won-lost record of 190-420 since 2005, never winning more than 33 games in a season. In the summer of 2013, Taylor committed to $120 million worth of contracts, securing the services of Nikola Pekovic (5 years, $60 million), Kevin Martin (4 years, $28 million), Chase Budinger (3 years, $15 million) Corey Brewer (3 years, $14 million) and Ronny Turiaf (2 years, $3 million).

These new signings — most of them players especially well suited for Adelman’s fabled “corner offense” — pushed the 2013-14 payroll past $68 million.

Unlike the previous season, the Wolves enjoyed extraordinarily good health in 2013-14. Their five starters played more minutes together than all but two other NBA quintets. Love had the best season of his six-year career, finishing fourth in scoring and third in rebounding while more than doubling his career assist rate.

These were not empty numbers: Love’s presence on the court was crucial to any success the Wolves enjoyed. When he played, the team performed at a level of efficiency that, if sustained, would have made them the second-best offense in the NBA. When he sat, the team’s offensive efficiency, again if maintained, would have been the second-worst in the NBA.

Even on defense, hardly Love’s strongest suit, the Wolves yielded fewer points per possession when Love played than when he sat.

Tote up the advantages: marquee coach; generous owner; extraordinary health; and a career year from the superstar. Now check the results: 40 wins and 42 losses, good for 10th place in the Western Conference, a whopping nine games out of the final playoff spot.

This was exactly the scenario that could not happen if the Wolves were going to keep Love from exercising the option to declare himself an unrestricted free agent after the 2014-15 season. It was why I titled my 2013-14 season preview “Playoffs or (loud) bust.”

The rancid cherry on top of this scenario, of course, is that Love wanted to sign an ironclad five-year pact that would have locked him into Minnesota through 2016-17. Management not only turned him down, they proposed the option of his early exit.

In other words, Love can’t be accused of being disloyal. He is much more vulnerable to the charge that he is not an alpha leader — indeed, in six years, his teams have yet to post a winning record, let alone make the playoffs. His successful performances alongside elites at the All Star games and in international competitions such as the Olympics don’t matter.

To validate a career that is already dangerously close to its midpoint in length under normal circumstances, Love needs to showcase his skills deep into the playoffs. Short of Minnesota selecting a ready-made star in the upcoming draft or making an improbable blockbuster acquisition that somehow maneuvers past the NBA salary cap, it is very difficult to imagine him being able to do that in a Wolves uniform.

Love knows this and is preparing accordingly. Wolves fans can only hope that Taylor and the rest of the front office likewise grasp the inevitability of the situation. 

Last offseason handcuffs this one

On the surface, it is far from certain that the Wolves brass has accepted Love’s departure as a foregone conclusion.

As recently as Sunday, President of Basketball Operations Flip Saunders, responding to reports that Love was scouting a new potential home city in his visit to Boston, said that he expects Love “to be playing for us next year,” emphasizing that teams covetous of Love “have no say. I plan on Kevin being here.”

Taylor, understandably stung by and resistant to the notion that last year’s spending spree was insufficient, has been equally adamant when queried on the subject.

This is by itself a strategy: Keep Love around for the entire 2014-15 season and then let him walk away without getting anything in return. This is arguably better than receiving a handful of mediocrities in a trade for Love and retarding the eventual rebuilding that would have to happen anyway.

That’s essentially what happened when the Wolves traded Garnett to the Celtics. The best of the four players and two draft picks they got in return, Al Jefferson, was dealt for a backup center and two draft picks three years later. The Wolves remained a terrible team throughout, and no current starter was directly acquired in any of the maneuvering connected to the Celtics package.

Unfortunately, last summer’s investments make the “tearing it down to the studs” style of rebuilding problematic. Pekovic, who is 28 and has yet to log 2000 minutes in any of his four seasons due to various injuries, is owed $12 million per year through 2018, and Martin’s next two years of chronically indifferent defense are guaranteed at $7 million per season. Not incidentally, Taylor is in his 70s and recently strengthened his ownership position despite little interest from his heirs, so patience likely won’t be a virtue he embraces.

The conventional wisdom is that the longer Minnesota waits to trade Love, the less they will reap in return because he’ll be that much closer to unrestricted free agency. Even now, Love has leverage: No team is going to offer the Wolves a substantial package unless Love signals he will extend his contract with that team. And that clout increases with each passing day.

It is a dream scenario for NBA pundits who get to fill their dead summer space with Love trade rumors and speciously “leaked” new twists and turns in the drama that most often serve the agenda of a player agent or assistant general manager.

Here’s my scoop: Short of Love leaving by next July at the latest, I am not very confident predicting the future. There are too many variables and human natures at play.

Even saying what I would do if I were Taylor or Saunders assumes knowledge of the terrain that I don’t possess. What has Love communicated about his intentions? What are other teams willing to offer? What kind of coach are they after and who do they like with the 13th pick in the college draft? All those things factor into how to prepare for Love’s leaving.

The best of the bad scenarios

With those caveats in mind, here’s my take:

The huge $2 billion purchase agreement for the Los Angeles Clippers has increased the relative value of all the NBA franchises and puts less pressure on gate revenues as a means to support the franchise. Two months ago, I didn’t think Taylor could afford alienating his fan base with another massive rebuilding of the roster. Now I think he can.

That doesn’t mean he wants to — Taylor is as impatient for a winner as most of the die-hards. But he is also loath to give up on Love and if there is less of a need to hedge his bets, he might ride this contract saga through to the February trading deadline, if not the entire season. That means less return on a trade — or no trade at all.

For the sake of speculation, however, let’s instead assume the Wolves brass is convinced of the need to trade Love. Teams in this unenviable position never get true value for their superstar, but do often have options as to how they want to mitigate the damage — with some combination of proven starters, high draft picks and salary cap relief.

If the Wolves try to retool instead of rebuild, opting for proven starters, they need to create a more complementary defensive front court duo than Love and Pekovic were last season. Specifically, Pek needs to be paired with a power forward who emphasizes rim protection and yet can get out to the three-point shooter in the corner.

That’s why rumored trades with the Chicago Bulls are attractive — Taj Gibson would be an excellent complement to Pek. The Bulls also own the rights to 6-10 power forward Nikola Mirotic — like Pek a native of Montenegro — who has become a rising star in the best Euro-league in Spain. Mirotic is apparently more of an outside shooter than a lockdown defender, but is young and athletic.

With the chance to create a trio of Love, Derrick Rose and Joakim Noah, the Bulls should be willing to sweeten the package with picks and subsidiary players beyond Gibson and/or Mirotic. Chicago is a major city and is a near-lock to go deep into the playoffs should they land Love, both of which would increase the chance of Love extending his contract with the Bulls.

Thus, right now Chicago seems like the best trading partner if the Wolves want to retool. I was lobbying heavily for a trade with Oklahoma City that would involve their power forward Serge Ibaka, probably the best complement for Pek of anyone in the NBA, but Ibaka’s value to the club in this year’s playoffs reduces the likelihood of OKC being eager to put together much of a package. Ibaka plus shooting guard Jeremy Lamb or combo guard Reggie Jackson seems much less feasible now than even a month ago.

Another ideal complement for Pek would be Al Horford of Atlanta, a staunch defender, quality midrange shooter, and perennial all-star. Perhaps a deal adding three-point marksman Kyle Korver, with or without Minnesota dumping Kevin Martin to the Hawks, would be a solid retooling trade. The question is would Love agree to an extension in Atlanta which has an apathetic fan base, or would Hawks general manager Danny Ferry want to depart from his methodical building plans.

One of the more prominently rumored trading partners is Golden State, but almost every deal has the Wolves acquiring power forward David Lee, who would be a horrible fit alongside Pekovic. Klay Thompson is a dynamic shooting guard and solid defender, and small forward Harrison Barnes still has some potential despite regression the past year. But this retooling causes as many problems as it solves with Lee. If the Wolves can figure out a trade for Pek, Lee and second-year center Gorgui Dieng makes more sense.

Love’s trip to Boston renewed speculation about a trade with the Celtics, one of the many teams that would need to dangle a few high draft picks to shore up the less than stellar roster talent involved in any swap. Despite the success Saunders had with the drafting of Dieng (and to a lesser extent Shabazz Muhammad) relying on the draft to replace your superstar requires a front office with a longer and more successful track record than anyone in current front office possesses. And many teams rumored to be offering picks, such as Cleveland, would likely not be able to convince Love to extend his contract there.

Last year was the season the Wolves needed to demonstrate that Love could establish a winner’s pedigree in Minnesota. On that count, the campaign was a disaster for franchise and resident superstar alike. The key for the Wolves is now to come away from the Love situation with at least one durably valuable asset. Ideally, that would be an ace power forward such as Ibaka, Horford or Gibson/Mirotic, hopefully supplemented by an accurate shooting guard who can also defend. Less ideally, it would be some high draft picks and salary cap relief.

For Love it is a lot simpler. Sooner or later over the next twelve months, he will have his own “decision” to make, and the flaws currently under the magnifying glass will diminish in the spotlight of the playoffs. 

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Comments (31)

I think Boston

might be the place. Don't they have 7 or 8 1st round picks in the next three years? You are absolutely right....Flip and Taylor need to read the tea leaves and understand that no matter what they dangle in front of him, Love is already out the door. I'll miss him, but we need to get maximum, long- term value from his departure.

Ick

The Celtics have nothing of substantive value beyond their picks, though. We'd have to take on a bunch of cap garbage to make that deal work (Jeff Green, anyone) and then count on Flip to hit on those picks. I'm not signing up for that.

Agree with Britt that the Bulls are the best prospective trading partner, especially if you can guarantee that Mirotic will come over. The Wolves should also try to unload one of the Brewer/Budinger/Martin/Mbah a Moute deals, too.

Point taken

I agree the Celtics have nothing BUT picks to offer as value, I just question the wisdom and long term value of a player- for- player trade, rather than a reboot, especially in lieu of how any player currently on the squad is going to fit the new coach's philosophy. You're spot on about Flip's ability to hit those picks, however.

If the Bulls

took on Love,
It would mean fewer touches for Rose and Noah.
Why would they do that?

To improve the team

Rose, Noah and Love are all blessed with great court vision. They all have been on the outside looking in for at least the past two seasons when it comes to any meaningful playoff run. They have complementary talents and a maniacal coach who would get them defending well enough to thrive as they learn how to share the ball.
Miami and OKC, to choose the most obvious examples, have alpha talents on offense succeeding side by side. The viable chance of winning improves discipline and teamwork.

Skill sets

When we're judging trade possibilities based in part on which team can offer up the best complement to Nikola Peković, we're sharpening a pencil that ought not be sharpened. Any trade of Love that places a high priority on the incoming personnel's ability to fit in with existing players seems short-sighted. It's easy to justify dealing Love by pointing out that as good as he is, he has not turned the Wolves into winners, but to then seek out players who promise to fit in with the existing exceedingly average bunch? Wouldn't the Wolves be begging for more of the same by thinking that way?

Valid point

Mick--

I didn't say any of the options were good options.
The rationale behind retooling instead of rebuilding is that it is very difficult to engage in a significant rebuild with all the contracts currently on board. In addition, there is the chance Pek stays healthy, Rubio improves his shot, Budinger enjoys health, and the team acquires a solid backup point guard. Not likely that all those things occur (and much less likely they occur quickly enough to mollify Love) but perhaps just as likely that the front office can oversee a Sixers-like dismantling of the roster and then a complete rebuild that makes them competitive in the Western Confence any time in the near future.
Portland hit the jackpot with Lillard in the draft, and added very under the radar but crucial pieces in Robin Lopez and Mo Williams for not much money in the off season. It can happen.
But there are no good options.

Britt

They're caught between the proverbial rock and a Rubio 3-point-attempt. You did a great job here of presenting trading options -- none of which, as you say, should make anyone feel real comfortable.

Agreed. But one issue I have....

is that you mention we need a power forward for Love. Isnt there a glut of decent power forwards in the NBA right now? We've "been there done that" in regards to having the PF be the best player on the team and it hasn't really worked out for us. I'd prefer to see us try to land that elusive guard that's been so hard for us to get. One thing I'm wondering is if McHale would be willing to do a Harden for Love swap. Both are on max contracts I believe and Houston isn't going anywhere with the current lineup. McHale loves Love....and Love loves McHale. Could this work?

fantasy question of the summer

First, the Wolves were healthier than 12-13 but not healthy. They need Pekovic every night and a productive Budinger on their bench. This and weak 3pt shooting (despite Love) is why they were under .500. (Oh, and also because two of their starters either can't or won't play defense.)

A trade with Chicago would be okay if you got Gibson, Mirotic and Jimmy Butler, but you are still weak at guard with no defense at the 2 and no back-up at the point. Only dumb luck in the draft will fix that.

Trading Love for value will depend on the irrationality of another team, in a push to "win" next year. I'd favor getting Thompson and Lee (and maybe a future 1st round pick?) for Love and a bad contract. Lee may not be a great fit with Pekovic but something can get figured out, and he could work with Deng. Then they need to draft a 3pt shooter that can defend his position.

The other (irrational) hope I have is for some sort of deal (Cleveland? Boston? Chicago? Three-way?) that gets the Wolves a #1-7 draft pick plus some additional value that results in (a) a power forward that can defend and score some, (2) an outside-shooting wing that can defend and somebody else that can play. I'd love to see Vonleh and P.J. Hairston drafted in this scenario. MAybe Gary Harris shows up now that everyone knows he is 6' 2"?

Oh. . .and whatever they do they need to find a backup point guard that can finish and defend. They might be able to do that in the draft, in the second round, or by getting an additional pick in the first round.

Should be no problem ;-)

Fairly accurate assessment

Reid--

I don't think a backup point guard is tough to come by--improving on Barea is almost literally a half-step above a no-brainer, because it took no brains to assume he could be the backup at the point last season--I preferred AJ Price by early December.
Listen, if Pek and Bud were your biggest health concerns, you had a very healthy year. Look around at practically every other NBA team.
Don't think "something can be figured out" when it comes to pairing Lee and Pek. They are very redundant in their strengths and weaknesses and you need a balanced front court to succeed in the NBA. Ask Detroit if the Wolves didn't convince you. Hell, I'd rather have Green in that package than David Lee.
The new test for Flip Saunders is coming up with a wing stopper and a reliable three point shooter without spending too much money.

yup

According to the geniuses, there are some sleeper point-guards in the draft (Semaj Christon, Deonte Burton) but Wolves need more than a half-step better than Barea.

I think Lee could defend and rebound if on the court with Pek; rebound and shoot if on the court with Deng. Or maybe you move him as soon as you trade for him.

The problem with Pek and Bud being out was not that they were out. It was that there was literally nothing behind Bud and only Deng behind Pek (and Love). Deng is going to be a quality NBA center, but he can't be your #1 frontcourt option on offense.

One other guy that Chicago has that might be worth a trade toss-in is Tony Snell.

Anyway, fun to watch, at least until some boneheaded decision is made by the Wolves (or they are saved by a boneheaded decision by another GM.)

Klay Thompson...

... is probably going to be looking for a contract at or near the max when the time comes after next year. Is that an investment you want to make? He's a very good player, but I'm not sure I like him that much.

True, so

could we get Harrison Barnes, Draymond Green, and, unfortunately, Lee? I can't help feeling Barnes and possibly Green could find their place on this team, as I think they could become starters on any team eventually. Why not put them in place in MN?

Barnes and Green just aren't

Barnes and Green just aren't that good, and why would we want to invest $30M over the next two years in a 31-year old PF?

Don't agree

We don't really know yet if they aren't good enough as they have only played two years in the league. We don't "want" Lee, of course, and Britt makes a good point about him perhaps not playing well with Pek. But Trent Tucker said on the radio that he sees a trade with the Warriors as a good idea. He thinks Lee is good enough and that Barnes and Thompson can play--he wants players who can play ball, not draft picks. I tend to agree with him, though you make a case for not getting Thompson, which does reduce the benefit to the Wolves by such a trade. It is all a crap shoot, and I would go with this type of trade before I would bother with the Celtics (no top 5 draft picks in their mess of picks and a bunch of guys we don't want), Chicago (why would we want Taj Gibson, etc), and Houston doesn't have much to offer either. Draft picks are questionable for this team, and even if we get another Kevin Love from the picks that player will leave MN also when his rookie deal is up. We need guys who are pretty good and play well together and then we might at least have a fun team and who knows what could happen--players might actually stay in MN.

MN isn't the problem

This bugs me. No player has left the T-Wolves because they didn't like Minnesota. (Perhaps Marbury, but there was also the jealousy over Garnett.) The problem is the "generous" owner who perpetuates a bottom-of-the-barrel short-sighted operation. Who doesn't love Flip Saunders, but to this point, his moves look like McHale's and Kahn's. Ill-thought free agent contracts. Shabazz over Antetokounmpo. Selling the last first-rounder. What player who wants to win could imagine they know what they're doing?

That said, I like the Golden State idea. Sure, they'll have to pay Klay Thompson. He's a good player. The Wolves problem isn't paying good players. Barnes regressed last year after Iguadala arrived, but there's still great potential. And while David Lee has a big salary, it's only two years, the Wolves wouldn't be under the cap anyway, and it's not inconceivable they could trade him.

With the Bulls picks not high and Gibson being 28, Mirotic's potential seems like the only long-term benefit of a Bulls deal. And wouldn't you know, the T-Wolves sold his rights for cash.

Discussion is flying around rapidly here

I don't think Taylor or Flip have any interest in tearing it down. Though what I'm about to bring up isn't probably related to their reasoning, that approach makes sense if we assume that young players develop better when they're forced to compete and not given free reign. If that's the case, a team might find more hits from the draft because their picks in the teens were developed properly (like Dieng). It also means having a coach who can properly develop those guys.

The type of situation most closely fitting the Wolves' is what Houston had to do after injuries ended Yao's career and made McGrady a shell of himself. They stayed financially lean enough to get more assets by taking on contracts, found guys who could play (often in the early 2nd round), flipped them at their peak value for better players, more picks, or guys on their rookie deals, and continued that process until they got Harden, which put them in position to get at least one more All-Star and possibly two. The way they accumulated the assets to get Harden reminded me of starting out with a paper clip and bartering all the way up to a car (many 2nd round picks and guys like Reece Gaines were involved). All of this was done without getting anything for Yao (besides cap space) and never picking in even the top 10 of the draft.

Houston's approach is almost the polar opposite of how this franchise has been run: overpaying for "proven" players when good or close to being good while punting entire seasons and crossing their fingers during the lottery when not good. So I'm not optimistic. The only 2 seasons in their history where the front office followed a good process were the 2 post-KG seasons when they traded down for Love and got extra first-rounders for things like taking on Rodney Carney and Calvin Booth. I'd be willing to bet on even odds that the Wolves won't be back to the playoffs until the team is sold.

Overstated Urgency?

The Timberwolves don't want Kevin Love to walk away for no return, but what is the likelihood that Love would actually walk away, no strings attached, after the 2014-15 season?

My understanding is that the Timberwolves — and only the Timberwolves — can offer Love an extra year on his next contract. That means Love in that scenario would be sacrificing, what, $20 million in guaranteed income? So even if Love made it 100 percent clear that he wanted out, a sign-and-trade would still be his best outcome.

Of course, that situation is not without risk for the Timberwolves. Love could become a distraction, and he would have almost total say over which team he was traded to. Or Love could sacrifice the guaranteed money and sign with whoever he wants. But if you accept that Love is unlikely to walk as an unrestricted free agent, the Wolves then have one more year in which to try to turn things around. And if they don't, chances are they could still trade Love.

I'm not suggesting that the Wolves will hold onto him or even that they should hold onto him. More I'm just pointing out that the sense of urgency — TRADE HIM BEFORE THE DRAFT OR ALL HELL BREAKS LOOSE! — seems misguided.

A trade this summer would only become urgent if the Wolves got a can't-turn-this-down offer or if Love indicated he was going to pout all season. Neither seems likely at this point.

The extra year means nothing

If he's traded, the new team could give him that $20 million. That's his motivation in telling the Wolves his plans; the Wolves benefit by knowing they should get something for him rather than suffering false hope as Cleveland did with LeBron.

If he's not traded, the $20 million guaranteed comes in an extra contract year, and he'll make that in his next contract. The latest collective bargaining--which Glen Taylor was in on negotiating--lessened players' incentive to stick around.

No, it means something

A free agent signing with a new team can only sign for 4 years instead of the 5 his current team can. Not only that, but it's foolish to assume that his next contract (coming in his early 30s) will be as lucrative as the one coming in 2015. If the Wolves called his bluff, it would likely cost him money.

If he's traded, that team

If he's traded, that team becomes the current team and can then offer him the fifth year.

This is the line I was referring to

"If he's not traded, the $20 million guaranteed comes in an extra contract year, and he'll make that in his next contract."

The extra contract year isn't coming from his 2015 contract because the Wolves can offer one more year, and it's shortsighted to assume that he'll make that money back later in his career. The difference between, say, a 34-year-old former All-Star on the last year of a max deal and a 34-year-old former All-Star on the free agent market could be about $10 million. "Get as much as you can for as long as you can" is a principle many still adhere to.

My point

My point was simply that the Timberwolves effectively have control over a potential ~$20 million in future earnings for Love.

Everybody assumes that the Timberwolves will trade him so that another team can pay him this $20 million. But if the Wolves don't trade him, then Love either has to re-sign or else forego the extra contract year.

And all of this is happening

And all of this is happening as the team increases ticket prices as much as 20 percent.

Fantastic.

This is where I'm at

According to b-r's pythag formula, the Wolves performed like a 48-win team last year. And that was with JJ Barea and the rest of the hockey-shift bench derailing way too many efforts.

While 48 wins would still not have earned a trip to the playoffs in the 2014 Western Conference, they're closer to a 50-win team now, flawed and locked-up as they are, than they've been since KG was traded (a trade they also "had" to make).

As none of these trade rumors promise much in terms of hastening a rebuild or reload, I'd rather just just find a non-Barea guard to lead the bench, play Dieng more minutes in his sophomore season, explore all options with the draft pick (a promising lead guard such as Elfrid Payton, or someone at CanisHoopus suggested, offer the #13 pick for Danny Green and push Martin to a 6th man role, which is admittedly intriguing), and see if I can't move one or two of their cluttered wings (Martin/Brewer/Budinger/Muhammed/Luc) for a future 2nd round pick.

That might be good enough to snipe a playoff appearance, and nothing earth-shattering is involved. Worry about turning the page next year (when, by the way, Barea, Shved, and Luc will also be off the books, and others will have more movable contracts).

As for the off chance of keeping Love longterm, I think that ship sailed long ago when the team failed to find a dynamic wing to play Robin with all those draft picks under Kahn.

One thing being forgotten...

There's little chance this is a 2-team trade because no one team can give the Wolves the necessary assets. The CP3 trade and Melo trades could be simpler because the teams acquiring them had plenty of young assets. Any deal isn't likely to involve the exact assets being considered. Any trade with Golden State wouldn't have Lee coming here, and maybe a Chicago trade would have to include them acquiring a lottery pick from another team.

Looking at those trades gives a good measuring stick. The Magic got 3 future 1sts and 3 rotation-caliber players (Afflalo, Harkless, Vucevic). The Hornets got a potential All-Star (at the time) in Gordon, a rotation-caliber player in Aminu, and a likely lottery pick (the one from the Wolves in the Jaric-Cassell trade). The Nuggets got 3 rotation-caliber players (Chandler, Gallinari, and Felton), a guy they turned into a rotation-caliber player (Koufos), and a future 1st. None of those players had any more leverage than Love does right now. Love might not be as good as those guys (certainly not CP3), but his youth makes up for some of that.

Pacers primed to be picked

Flip and Larry should be on speed dial between now and the draft. Potentially one of three scenarios.

1. Sign and Trade with Lance Stephenson and George Hill for Love + pick or filler (Alexi/Brewer/Budd)
2. Paul George & Lavoy Allen for Love,Martin, +2014 1st rounder.
3. Roy Hibbert & George Hill & pick #57 for Pek, Martin & Brewer.

#3 works if Twolves believe they can keep Kevin by adding more talent and getting out of the gate quickly. Instantly shores up the defense.

#2 The notion that Pacers won't trade PG is a fantasy because at least one of the Pacers starting 5 is getting traded for sure. Pacers gain the shooting they so desperately need and take on Kmarts bad contract for a first round pick and abit of cap relief.

#1 would probably be the easiest and everyone would be content. Instant improvement on defense and getting a future all star in Stephenson would not only make for an exciting, fast paced tempo that the fans would love (pun intended) & Hill brings a combo guard that nails three's and plays defense first.

Rockets

Houston, thought to be in the mix, could have offered something a little intriguing built around Terrence Jones and Chandler Parsons (although I don't like Parsons as much if he's making Iguodala/Gallinari/Batum-type money).

But with Houston's curious decision to let Parsons become an RFA now, that seems unlikely (at least according to my marginal understanding of the dark arts of the CBA), because now Parsons would need to be traded via sign-and-trade, and the Wolves don't have the cap room to extend an offer sheet to start that process.

I suppose Houston could be thinking that they can use a sign-and-trade of Parsons to grab assetsto turn around and use in another deal. That's been their M.O., at least.

For example, Charlotte is starved for offense, has cap space to extend an offer, and has a top 10 pick.

Who should be the Starting Center

I think the Wolves need to treat Pec like the Spurs treat Mano. Have Pec come off the bench most of the time and start Geogui Dieng.

I think this helps both the 1st & 2nd team. Dieng can protect the rim against the starting point & 2 guards that like to drive to the rim. This will help the 1st team get stops. Which has been a important contributor to the Wolves losing leads in the 4th quarter.

Pec would brings scoring to the 2nd team. Which has been a serious weakness of the 2nd. Plus he would be guarding centers who are not as good offensively.

I think that Pec can play 75+ games/season if he plays less than 30 minutes/ game. Especially on back to backs. The easiest way to keep his minutes down is to have him play on the second team. The rubes will complain he is getting paid a starter's salary therefor he should start. BS When & how much Pec plays should be based on what is best for getting the Wolves to and deep into the playoffs.

Every player has a limit of how many minutes he can play before he starts to get injure prone. Mano had injury problems early in his career. It took Pop a few yearsto figure out how much & when to play Mano so Mano would be healthy for the playoffs.

It doesn't matter a lot how many games a player misses during the year if he is healthy at the end of the year. This year Wade is a perfect example of this. He missed 28 games. But no one notices or cares because he is healthy and playing great in the playoffs. Last year Wade's knees were seen a possible obstacle to the Heat winning another ring. This year Wade's knees are not an issue.

max Contract ???????

My understanding is that
Heat no max contracts
spurs no max contracts
OKC no max contracts

Is this True?

LeBron, Wade, Westbrooke and Durant are max contract worthy. But I heard they took less than the max so there would be money to have quality supporting players.

Love need to realize that unless he goes to LA (lakers or clippers) he cannot get a max deal and have a serious shot at a ring. He can have one or the other but not both at the same time.

If Love walks he could sign a 1 year deal with his new team. Then sign a max contract with an extra year the next year. The new team risks having a Lakers Howard situation if Love only signs a one year deal.

After next year the Heat's big 3 can op out of their contracts. I expect that the Heat will ask them to do that, so the contracts can be rewritten to be more cap friendly (less money) to add cap space to add more mid level role players.