NBA

Potential Trade Destinations for Kevin Love

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The Minnesota Timberwolves have a very important offseason coming up, one that will be filled with a lot of questions regarding their franchise player Kevin Love. The situation with Love is one that many teams have to deal with at one point or another, deciding whether to trade an unhappy star in fear of losing that player for nothing. While the Timberwolves’ stance on trading Love has softened in recent weeks, there are some teams in the league that might try to tempt Minnesota into making a deal. The Timberwolves are in a no-win situation with Love because if they hold on to him he could walk next summer but if they trade him they know they won’t get anywhere near the value Love is really worth. But something is better than nothing.

The hottest destination for Love right now seems to be with the Lakers in Los Angeles. Love’s connections to California are well known, but is that the best option for the Lakers and the Timberwolves? A perfect trade would send Love to a situation where he would legitimately consider signing a long-term deal come next summer.

While the Lakers are considered by many to be the frontrunners for Love, the Lakers would be taking a huge gamble on trading for him as it would likely cost the Lakers their first-round draft pick in June’s draft, which is the best first-round draft pick they’ve had since drafting Andrew Bynum in 2005. The Lakers may be better off holding onto their draft pick, and going after Love next summer when he can become an unrestricted free agent. If he truly wants to play in Los Angeles, as everyone around the NBA believes, the Lakers don’t need to give up key assets to land him. By waiting, the Lakers could have Love plus their draft pick from this year.

Aside from the Lakers, who are obviously in the mix for Love, here are several other potential trades for Love:

Boston Celtics trade Jeff Green, Brandon Bass, Jared Sullinger and at least one first-round pick to the Minnesota Timberwolves for Kevin Love and Corey Brewer

By pairing Love with Rajon Rondo in Boston, the Celtics would have two All-Stars and they’d have a legitimate shot at signing both long-term in 2015, assuming they can put other pieces around them. In this proposed trade, the Timberwolves would send Love and Brewer to the Celtics for Green, Bass and Sullinger. The Celtics would also likely to need to part ways with at least one first-round pick, which shouldn’t be a problem for Boston since they have so many picks over the next few years.

The key player in this trade for the Timberwolves is Sullinger, as his contract will be very small for the next couple of seasons, which could be time for the Wolves to take a look at him going forward. Sullinger could become a long-term piece for Minnesota, as he is only 22 years old and still has a lot of potential.

In addition to Green, Bass and Sullinger, the Timberwolves would also have that first-round pick from the Celtics, which would help them as they rebuild and attempt to replace Love’s production.

As for the Celtics, this trade would allow them to get much closer to contending and they could become a top-tier team in the East for years to come if they can lock up Love and Rondo and surround them with talent. While some teams may be hesitant to part ways with a first-round pick, Boston has stockpiled selections so a first-rounder or two is expendable. By keeping their own lottery pick this year, the Celtics could still get an immediate impact player in Jabari Parker or Joel Embiid to put alongside Rondo and Love.

Chicago Bulls trade Carlos Boozer, Jimmy Butler and a first-round draft pick to the Minnesota Timberwolves for Kevin Love.

The Bulls have been rumored to be interested in taking on a max-contract type of player like Love or Carmelo Anthony. The Bulls are in need of an efficient scorer and Love is a player who would thrive alongside a rim protector like Joakim Noah. It’s been rumored that the Bulls want to amnesty Boozer this summer in order to cut his $16.8 million from the books next season, but for trade purposes they would need to keep him and ship him out to make the salaries match.

The Bulls could be a team that can persuade Love to stick around long-term for several reasons. First off, Love trains with Derrick Rose in the summer and is familiar with the former MVP. He may be more inclined to commit long-term if he’s playing alongside a star who he knows. A roster with a healthy Rose, Noah, Love and Taj Gibson could have a chance to go deep into the playoffs in the Eastern Conference; Chicago was able to lock up the fourth seed by winning 48 games without Rose. Finally, the Bulls have one of the highest regarded coaches in the league in Tom Thibodeau.

Boozer’s expiring contract would be added just to make the salaries match as the Timberwolves would really be interested in acquiring a young player in Butler, who is averaging 13 points per game. To go along with Butler, the Timberwolves would gain another first-round pick from the Bulls, such as the pick Chicago is owed from the Charlotte Bobcats, which will be the 16th pick.

Cleveland Cavaliers trade Dion Waiters, Tristan Thompson and Jarrett Jack to the Minnesota Timberwolves for Kevin Love

The Cavaliers are one of the many teams with a lot of things to consider heading into next season. With the upcoming early termination option in LeBron James’ contract, the Cavaliers are among the teams that could be vying for James’ services this offseason. As currently constructed, the Cavaliers may not be attractive to James. But if he has the opportunity to play with Kyrie Irving and Kevin Love? Suddenly, Cleveland is much more appealing to James (as well as other free agents). A trio of James, Irving and Love could do some real damage in the Eastern Conference, especially since Irving and Love have yet to reach their prime.

Giving up young players in Waiters and Thompson for the chance to get Love is worth it, especially if it increases the odds that James returns to Cleveland. The Cavs would still hold onto their first-round pick in this scenario, which is projected to be around the ninth pick and would allow their incoming rookie to grow around a proven trio of players. Cleveland could part ways with a future first-round pick, if necessary.

For the Timberwolves, this is a move that would set them up for the future, as they would add Waiters and Thompson and have a promising young core with Ricky Rubio.

Orlando Magic trade Arron Afflalo, Tobias Harris and Maurice Harkless to the Minnesota Timberwolves for Kevin Love

The Magic just completed year two in life without Dwight Howard and are approaching the time when the team needs to start winning rather than accumulating ping pong balls. With a young core of players in Maurice Harkless, Victor Oladipo, Tobias Harris, Nikola Vucevic and Kyle O’Quinn, the Magic also have two lottery picks coming up in June’s draft.

The team’s goal during the rebuild with general manager Rob Hennigan has been to cut bad contracts and acquire assets. The team doesn’t have any real bad contracts left as Jameer Nelson can be bought out for $2 million this offseason, so the Magic have to decide where they want to go from here. Harkless was brought into Orlando with high hopes, but he hasn’t improved as much as expected. Harris presents a challenge when deciding where to plug him in on the floor, as he is an undersized power forward but lacks speed to match up with quicker wing players. With the two lottery picks, players like Harkless and Harris could become expendable in a deal for Love.

The good news for the Timberwolves is all three of these players come in with good contracts. Afflalo is due $7.5 million, but returns great value considering the 18.4 points, 3.6 rebounds and 3.4 assists he put up this season. Harkless is one of the league’s youngest players and isn’t even 21 years old yet. Harris has shown glimpses of brilliance and is just 21 years old. Orlando also has a lot of picks to part ways with, if Minnesota is demanding picks back in any deal for Love.

A Magic starting lineup of Vucevic, Love, Oladipo and the two draft picks could be very good. If they are able to have a Phoenix-like turnaround, that could sell Love into staying long-term in Orlando.

Phoenix Suns trade Channing Frye, Gerald Green and multiple first-round draft picks to the Minnesota Timberwolves for Kevin Love

The Suns have been mentioned as a possible destination for Love and other stars due to their plethora of first-round draft picks. The Suns have three first-round picks in the 2014 NBA Draft – their own lottery pick, which is projected around to be the 14th selection, the Washington Wizards’ 18th overall pick and the Indiana Pacers’ 27th overall pick. Not to mention, they could have two first-round picks in next year’s draft.

The Suns came into this season with 10 new players on the team and because of that, they weren’t expected to win very many games. They defied the odds and narrowly missed the playoffs. The Suns aren’t very far off with their current crop of players and with three first-round picks in a talented draft, they’ll be an even better team next season. With so many first-round picks, the Suns can put together an intriguing package for Love if Minnesota wants to rebuild through the draft.

Phoenix could be a dark horse destination for Love, and he spoke highly of the Suns a few months ago.

“Coach [Jeff Hornacek] has them playing hard,” Love told The Arizona Republic several months ago. “They have a lot of confidence. Their offense is very fitting for the team that they have. Dragic has been playing awesome basketball all year.

“Guys can really shoot the ball, spread the floor. They’re different in a way that when they get an offensive rebound, some of the time they don’t put it back; they kick it out for another three, miss another shot and kick it out for another three. That kind of just drains a team.”

Meanwhile for the Timberwolves, they would be adding two players capable of putting of solid numbers in terms of production. Both of those players would be coming into Minnesota with manageable contracts to work with. The draft picks would also help the Timberwolves retool after losing Love.

Golden State Warriors trade David Lee and Harrison Barnes to the Minnesota Timberwolves for Kevin Love

The Golden State Warriors are extremely aggressive when it comes to upgrading their team, and they could find themselves in a position to make a play for Kevin Love this offseason. Given Love’s reported desire to return to the west coast and play for a contender, Golden State seems like an attractive place for Love to stay long-term.

Like most teams, the Warriors were reportedly interested in acquiring Love at this season’s trade deadline and should the Warriors have an early exit from the playoffs, they may be motivated to aggressively pursue a deal for Love. It’s not hard to imagine Joe Lacob calling up Bob Myers and telling him to do whatever it takes to put Love in a Warriors jersey.

The Warriors can package David Lee and Harrison Barnes for Love. Barnes is somewhat expendable with Andre Iguodala in Golden State, and the Warriors would likely be willing to part with him if it allowed them to acquire a star like Love. The Warriors don’t have any draft picks in this upcoming draft, but they can offer a future first-round draft pick in addition to Lee and Barnes if they feel it would help their chances of acquiring Love.

The Timberwolves would be getting established players in Lee and Barnes, who can contribute immediately toward the Timberwolves’ goal of making it back to the playoffs for the first time in 10 years. Barnes also has a lot of potential, since he is just 21 years old.

Houston Rockets trade Chandler Parsons, Jeremy Lin and Terrence Jones to the Minnesota Timberwolves for Kevin Love

The Houston Rockets are expected to be one of the more active teams come this offseason. Even with the addition of Dwight Howard to a lineup that features James Harden and Chandler Parsons, the Rockets have been looking for a stretch-four player and could be in heavy pursuit of Love.

In this deal, the Rockets would trade Chandler Parsons, Jeremy Lin and Terrence Jones to the Timberwolves. Any trade with the Rockets will figure to center around the expiring contracts of either Lin or Omer Asik, as the Rockets have had discussions about unloading both.

The Timberwolves would be getting a steal in Parsons, who averaged 16.6 points, 5.5 rebounds and four rebounds per game this season and is only due to make $964,750 next season. The deal is also enticing since Lin’s expiring contract would provide cap relief after the season and Jones would figure to replace Love in the starting lineup and possibly become a key piece for the organization moving forward since he’s only 22 years old.

New York Knicks trade Amar’e Stoudemire, Tim Hardaway Jr. and Iman Shumpert to the Minnesota Timberwolves for Kevin Love and Corey Brewer

Phil Jackson and the Knicks will certainly try to make a bold move this offseason in order to keep free-agent-to-be Carmelo Anthony in town. The Knicks can offer an expiring contract such as Amar’e Stoudemire, Tyson Chandler or Andrea Bargnani along with younger players in Tim Hardaway Jr. and Iman Shumpert to help solidify a young core of players for the Timberwolves.

Acquiring a player in Love could be just what the Knicks need to persuade Anthony to stay there long-term. While Anthony has been rumored to want to go to a contender, if the Knicks were to bring in Love it may be enough to keep Anthony because he’d have a star alongside him and the Knicks are the only team that can offer him an extra year and $30 million more in free agency.

Brooklyn Nets trade Brook Lopez to the Minnesota Timberwolves for Kevin Love

The Brooklyn Nets may have a case for landing Love. While the Nets have virtually no draft picks to offer in a trade scenario, they can offer up proven big man Brook Lopez. The Nets’ struggles at the start of the season are well-documented, but their turnaround into a sixth-seed and one of the best teams in the league in the New Year have them thinking about life after Lopez.

The Nets were able to do a complete 180 without the services of Lopez, who has been out since Dec. 20. With the team able to win games without their star center, he may now be viewed as expendable and a large piece of trade bait. The Nets could offer the Timberwolves Lopez for Love straight up and the Wolves would benefit with a proven 20-point-per-game center. With a veteran group of guys and a large market, the Nets could be a place Love stays long-term.

Which trade scenario is the best? Where do you think Love will ultimately land? Leave your thoughts in the comment section below.

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About Cody Taylor

Cody Taylor

Cody Taylor is a journalism student in Orlando, Fla. entering his second season with Basketball Insiders covering the NBA.