Monday, June 2, 2014

Minnesota: We lost that lovin feeling....

  This summer in the NBA is a pretty special one.  Starting Thursday we have a rematch of last years finals With the Spurs versus the Heat. Which proved to be a great series.  This will be the first time since the 97-98 season in which we have had the same two teams return to the finals.  The last teams to do so were the Utah Jazz and Chicago Bulls.  Kind of ironic, considering these two teams are fashioned similar to the Jazz and Bulls of the 90's.  Should make for another great series.

  Then in a few weeks we have the most coveted draft since Lebron James came in to the league.  A draft deep on talent with the top 3-4 players considered franchise building/cornerstone type players.  Four days following the draft, free agency begins with big names like James, Wade, Bosh, Nowitzki, Anthony all having the ability to find a new home if they so choose.

  But the biggest name being talked about is not a draft pick, not a free agent to be, but a player that is under contract next season.  A player that seemingly holds all the power in their hands due to an early out clause in his contract that could make him a free agent in the summer of 14-15, that being Kevin Love.

  Love has been been a Timberwolf  his entire career having been drafted by the Memphis Grizzlies and traded on draft day 2008 to Minnesota.  In his six years in Minnesota, the Timberwolves are yet to make the playoffs much to the dismay of Love.  So much so that there was a rumor at the beginning of last season that Love had requested to be traded.  The rumor was denied by both love and the franchise but the foundation had been laid.  Love was not happy and Minnesota need to appease him by adding quality teammates or lose him in free agency.  Minnesota chose to call Love's bluff and did not trade him before the deadline last season.

Bringing us to present day.....

  Love and his camp have officially lobbied for a trade now and are no longer denying their desire to move on.  As for Minnesota, they seem to want to believe it is all a bad dream.  They continue to hold to the fact that Love is under contract for the next season and that they fully expect him to play for the Timberwolves.  There have been hints and rumors that Minnesota is softening its stance on trading Love as they know they can not let him walk or lose him for nothing.

And that is where things get difficult.

  With Love having an early termination clause on his contract and technically only being under contract for the following season, he has all the power or control over where he gets traded.  At this point no team seems to be willing to role the dice on Love without the assurance that he will sign an extension.  The one team that might would be the Los Angles Lakers who did so with Dwight Howard who in turn left money on the table and left the lights of L.A. for greener pastures in Houston Texas.

  But this is different, as the Lakers are supposedly a preferred destination for Kevin Love.  It would be unlikely that the Lakers would need that assurance from Love, as he is a west coast guy, a southern California guy having been born in Santa Monica.   Last year Love was asked about playing for the Lakers and said that he was not sure the Lakers were a better situation than he was currently in in Minnesota.  He went as far as to say the Timberwolves were the better team.  True at the time.....

  But are we to believe that Love doesn't really want to play for the Lakers?  I believe that if he could choose and all things were equal, there is no way he turns down the Lakers.

  So what other options are there?  Cleveland did just win the #1 pick in this summers draft.  They are said to be in a "win now" situation and seem to be likely suitors for Love.  What about the Phoenix Suns?  They have multiple first round picks as well as a couple of young assets they could move.  The Suns first round picks include 14,18 and 27.  Is the combination of those picks and Gerald Green appealing?  What about the Chicago Bulls?  They have picks 16 and 19 the expiring contract of Carlos Boozer.  Maybe Jimmy Butler, Tony Snell.  Its unlikely they give up Taj Gibson....Or the Golden State Warriors.  They have no pick this year, but have young players like Klay Thompson and Harrison Barnes.  Many Jazz fans have clamored to get in the Love sweepstakes and the Jazz do have both picks and assets to do so, but I find it hard to believe the Jazz could get the assurance that Love would sign and extension.

Now we have the Flavor of the Month, the Boston Celtics.

  This weekend was a hot weekend for Love and Celtics rumors.  As Love took in a Red Sox game at Fenway.  It was also reported that Rajon Rondo happen to be at the same game.  There was also the this tweet from Red Sox DH David Ortiz, #cityofchampions.  As well as the rumored communication with Celtics legend Bill Walton.  Again, do the Celtics have the pieces to make this happen?  First off, they have a relationship with Minnesota thanks to a trade years ago in which a very similar situation was transpiring with then Timber wolf Kevin Garnett.  The Celtics also have picks 6 and 17 in this years draft.  They actually have 17 first round picks stockpiled in the next 10 years!  So picks, they have the assets.  What about players?  They have a good young small forward in Jeff Green, a young power forward in Jared Sullinger, big man Kelly Olynyk and veteran Gerald Wallace.  If the Celtics look to make the deal it is unlikely that they add Rajan Rondo, who too has been rumored to be on the trading block.  So clearly the Celtics have the assets.

  This may be the best situation for Love.  He would get the big market he so desires.  Would have the opportunity to play with a great point guard in Rajon Rondo and the Celtics will likely have picks and the flexibility to add a few other pieces to their two studs.  Personally, if Love is going to go somewhere, this is one place that I would like to see him.  One, it keeps him from the Lakers and two he is on the east coast.  I would like to see a little more balance in the conferences and this would help move towards that.

  Its only a matter of time at at this point.  Love has said he wants to be traded before the season and with the teams in play its likely that a trade gets done in the next couple of weeks.  Where ever Mr.Love ends up, I hope that he is able to get back "that loving feeling" again....