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.
Mavs Guard Devin Harris on Personal Leave from Team
Guard Devin Harris will take an indefinite leave from the Dallas Mavericks after the tragic death of his brother, Bruce.
“I was with him yesterday and just encouraged him that when he’s ready to come on back,” coach Rick Carlisle said. “I don’t know when that will be. He can take as long as he needs.”
Source: Tim MacMahon of ESPN
NBA PM: Patrick Beverley Set the Tone for Clippers in Season Opener
Patrick Beverley set the tone for the L.A. Clippers with his aggressive defense in their season opener.
“The LA Clippers are going to the Western Conference Finals. Guaranteed.”
That bold statement was made by Charles Barkley during TNT’s coverage of last night’s matchup between the Lakers and Clippers.
While Barkley may have had his hot take canon primed and in mid-season form, that should not overshadow the fact that the Los Angeles Clippers put together a strong showing in their first regular season game since the departure of Chris Paul.
Blake Griffin logged 29 points, 12 rebounds, three assists, two steals and knocked down three of his six three-point attempts. Griffin was aggressive and showed no hesitation on his jumper, which seemed to open up lanes for him to drive to the basket (where he is most effective). DeAndre Jordan was fantastic as well, contributing 14 points, 24 rebounds, one assist and one steal.
While the Clippers lost some significant contributors from last season, including J.J. Redick, Luc Mbah a Moute and Jamal Crawford, the team had some returning and new players show that they are capable of filling the void.
Milos Teodosic was just 2-9 from the field, but knocked down two three-pointers and looked comfortable and effective running the team’s offense. Danilo Gallinarni shot just 3-13 from the field but looked healthy and spry, displaying the kind of mobility that is necessary to play the small forward position. His ability to act as a secondary playmaker wasn’t on full display, but there were moments where it was apparent that he could be a big help in generating open looks for his teammates. Lou Williams also looked good in his Clippers debut, scoring in a variety of ways off the bench and contributing six assists as well. Wesley Johnson continues to look confident and aggressive, a continuation from his preseason performances, and is starting to knock down the open shots his teammates are creating for him (which has been a problem for him in the past).
While the Clippers looked solid in their opening act without Paul, it should be noted that the Lakers are a young team overall and their defense has been a major problem for the last few seasons. While the Lakers have added some promising young talent over the offseason, like most young teams, they are going to struggle to slow down veteran teams with potent offenses. It would be a mistake to think the Clippers can replicate this sort of offensive performance every night, especially against the better defensive teams in the league. However, perhaps the most promising part of the Clippers’ season debut was the fact that they seemed to feed off of and embrace the gritty demeanor and style of play that Patrick Beverley brings to the court each and every night.
Last night’s game was the NBA debut for rookie point guard Lonzo Ball, who many predict will develop into a star player. Unfortunately for Ball, his opening night matchup came against Beverley, who earned a spot on the 2017 All-Defensive First Team. Beverley repeatedly guarded Ball past half court, pushed him around and did everything he could to throw him off of his game. He held Ball to three points, nine rebounds and four assists in 29 minutes of action.
Beverley, like every NBA player, has heard the hype and noise surrounding Ball and his future in the league (most of it from his outspoken father, LaVar).
“I just had to set the tone,” Beverley said. “I told him after the game that due to all the riffraff his dad brings, that he’s going to get a lot of people coming at him. I let him know that after the game. What a better way to start than spending 94 feet guarding him tonight — welcome the young guy to the NBA.”
Beverley is one of the more aggressive defenders in the NBA and is known for trying to get under the skin of his opponents, so Lonzo may not face this level of intensity in every game. But based on Beverley’s comments, it’s clear that he expects other players around the league to defend Lonzo aggressively as well.
Snoop Dogg, the rapper and passionate Lakers fan, summed up the issue for Ball arguably better than anyone else has so far.
“His father put him in the lion’s den with pork chop drawers on,” said Snoop.
For his part, Lonzo complimented Beverley on his aggressive defense.
“[Beverley] plays hard. He knows his job. He does it very well,” said Ball. “He gets under people’s skin and plays defense and does what he can to help his team win.”
Beverley set the tone for the Clippers, who looked crisp and confident throughout the game. Griffin’s three-point shot looks like it could finally be a reliable part of his offensive arsenal. Jordan was very active on the glass, pulling down 24 rebounds (possibly inspired in part by his commitment to donate $100 per rebound this season to help the effort to rebuild his hometown of Houston after the damage inflicted by Hurricane Harvey). The rest of the supporting cast played with the sort of cohesion and confidence that takes at least a few weeks into the season to develop. Again, the Clippers’ performance could have stemmed primarily from the Lakers’ shaky defense, but it was encouraging to see the team play with such force and confidence in the absence of Paul.
The Western Conference is extremely talented and deep, so it’s unlikely that the Clippers will make it to the Western Conference Finals as Barkley predicted. However, challenging for a spot in the playoffs and perhaps even doing some damage once there seems to be in the realm of possibility. This is especially the case considering how much of an impact Beverley had Thursday night, both defensively and in setting the tone for the rest of his new teammates.
Morris Bringing Leadership To Celtics
Marcus Morris chats with Basketball Insiders for a one-on-one exclusive.
Returning just one starter from last year’s top-seeded team in the Eastern Conference, the Boston Celtics underwent wholesale changes this past offseason.
Gordon Hayward signed a super max contract. Danny Ainge pried Kyrie Irving away from the Cleveland Cavaliers in a blockbuster deal. Jayson Tatum was selected with the third overall pick in the NBA Draft.
In early July, though, there was an under-the-radar trade executed that hasn’t been mentioned much. Surprisingly, Celtics guard Avery Bradley was sent to the Detroit Pistons in exchange for Marcus Morris, a heady wing with size and versatility to add to a revamped core of players.
Bradley was a mainstay with the franchise for seven years and played a vital role as a part of Brad Stevens’ system, but Boston decided to move in a different direction. As for the man they got in return, he’s thrilled to be there.
“It makes me feel good,” Morris told Basketball Insiders of Ainge dealing one of his best former players for him. “It makes you feel wanted.
“This is my first time since I’ve been in the NBA I’ve been on a team with a bunch of guys that [are] All-Stars. With the maturity of the team being this high and having them high expectations on us, I’m excited to get the season going and see how far we can take this.”
The Detroit Pistons likely wanted to keep him, but the organization clearly felt Bradley’s skill set was too good to pass up. For Morris, he insisted there was no indication that his old team would send him away, but he hasn’t been bashful about talking up his new home.
“Had no idea that I was gonna be a Boston Celtic, but I’m ready for the challenge, you know?” Morris said. “I’m excited. Boston, being a Celtic—it’s something that growing up you don’t really see happening, but when it happens it’s an amazing thing.
“It’s like playing for the Patriots, you know what I mean? One of the most heralded teams and most heralded franchises, and Boston is one of those.”
Entering the seventh season of his career, Morris has remained a steady part of the league. During his time in Detroit, he started nearly every game for the Pistons and found a comfort zone that he believes will carry over in Boston.
“Just continue to be consistent, continue to build on my last past couple of years,” Morris said of his personal goals. “I really felt like I carved my spot in the NBA the last two years—averaging 14 a year and helping my team get to the playoffs one of those years, so I really think I’ve carved a niche in this league.”
The success has come thanks to his versatility and the NBA’s current direction pointing towards that type of game. All of a sudden, not having a defined position makes a player more valuable, something Morris is thankful for as he continues to bring a little bit of everything to the table.
“For guys like me, it’s great,” Morris said. “Coming into the league, I had this ‘tweener’ thing on my back and now it’s like [freaking] great to be a ‘tweener’ at this time. I’m actually happy that it’s switching to my position and guys that can do multiple things are being utilized more in this league.”
Putting the ball in the basket has come fairly easy for Morris, who averaged 14.1 points per game on 42.6 percent from the field over 159 games with Detroit. He’s able to stretch the floor and provide solid spacing offensively, and he envisions doing more than that for this Celtics group.
“And leadership,” Morris said. “I’m not too much of a vocal guy, but I’m a passionate guy on the court. I think that’ll rub off on guys. I love scoring. I love shooting the ball. But that’s not the only thing I do.
“I’ve been a tough defender around this league for the last past years and I’m really looking forward to hanging my hat on that again and just doing whatever it takes for my team to get to that next level.”
Stevens is aware of the impact Morris can bring in the locker room and on the floor. When he returns from a sore knee to make his debut for Boston, that’ll show through his play.
“He’s a guy that can stretch the floor at the four,” Stevens said. “He’s a guy that can guard two through four. He’s tough. He’s smart. He works the right way. We’ll be better with Marcus Morris for sure. The versatility is a very important part of what we want to be.
“Whether he is starting in a couple of weeks or whether he’s coming off the bench, at the end of the day he’s gonna be a critical, critical part of our team.”
While he’s waited to come back, Jaylen Brown and Jayson Tatum have stepped up in his absence. With Hayward likely sidelined for the rest of the season, that success will have to be sustained. Morris is a big believer in this promising duo and sees how grounded they are to make that happen.
“They’re mature guys for their age,” Morris said. “Jaylen, I think he’s 20. He’s definitely a lot more mature than I thought. Jayson, too. He’s way more mature than your average 19-year-old.
“At the end of the day, it’s just basketball. I think those guys, they’re ready for the challenge. They love the game. They always in the gym, so I think it’ll be easy for ‘em.”
Part of Morris’ role is guiding those two and the other younger pieces that Boston has as they try and establish themselves as professionals. He’s kind of a coach per se, which is somewhat fitting considering what he did this summer.
Most basketball fans are aware of “The Basketball Tournament” that takes nationwide. For those that aren’t, it’s a single-elimination competition between 64 teams in which the champion receives a $2 million prize. Morris was the head coach of Team FOE—standing for Family Over Everything.
Along with his fellow Kansas alums, including his brother Markieff and Thomas Robinson, Morris coached his team to the final game. Team FOE was in front most of the game but ultimately fell to Boeheim’s Army, a squad filled with former Syracuse Orangemen.
“I was on my way man,” Morris said of coming close. “I actually liked it. I’m a smart guy. Me and basketball stuff, I can put it together real well. I was kinda upset we lost in the fashion that we lost, but we’ll be back next year.
“I’m a smart player,” he said regarding a potential future on the sidelines. “I know the game really well. Coaching comes easy for some guys and I’m just one of those guys.”
You could hear “Coach Morris” down the line, but for now and for years to come, Marcus is focused on his first year with Boston. It’s a team that surely has the talent to be the top team in the East it’s pegged to be. Stevens is a basketball savant with great leadership.
Even without an All-Star like Hayward and a 0-2 start, the Celtics should still be a force to be reckoned with. There’s an even greater demand for them to achieve their potential, especially knowing eyes will be on them, but Morris welcomes the challenge.
“Man, it’s pressure on every team,” Morris said. “It ain’t like it’s just all on the Boston Celtics. It’s pressure on every team. What’s a game without pressure anyway?
“Pressure makes it the best thing. That’s what we need to do anyway. I enjoy the pressure. Me personally.”
Shouldering the load won’t be easy, but if it comes down to it, Morris will be swimming instead of sinking. When all is said and done, he shares the same aspirations as most players do—raising the Larry O’Brien trophy in the summer.
“I want to the win the championship,” Morris said. “You put this type of team together to get to those positions. I’m looking to be playing in June and trying to get to a championship.”