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NBA AM: Time To Move Kevin Love?

The Minnesota Timberwolves appear to be willing to move Kevin Love, as long as their high price tag is met… Who stood out at the NBA Draft Combine.

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Is It Time To Move Kevin Love? :  Are you ready for the worst kept secret in the NBA? Teams would love to trade for Minnesota’s Kevin Love. Seriously, a lot of them would trade huge assets to get him.

All joking aside, you can safely say that virtually every team in the NBA would make an offer to obtain Love.

Before we get too much further into this; that is not news. It’s not news that the LA Lakers would like to obtain Love, it’s even less of a shock that the Boston Celtics would potentially give up their lottery pick in the 2014 NBA Draft if it returned Love. The Houston Rockets would give up almost anything on the roster not named Dwight Howard or James Harden to get Love.

Story: Potential Trade Destinations for Kevin Love

What will be news is when and if the Minnesota Timerwolves accept the inevitable; Love is leaving the Timberwolves in the Summer of 2015. The Wolves are holding out a glimmer of hope that they can assemble a winner around Love before it’s too late and try and swing him back to the franchise that traded for him on draft night with what they did not give him the last time the topic of contracts came up: a full five-year maximum contract.

The reality is, according to reports, that Love’s agent is urging the Wolves to find a trade before the draft and that they are making it clear that Love will be gone in July of 2015, so they had better do something with him this offseason, preferably around the draft.

The Wolves are said to be against entertaining trades involving Love. They are still trying to position themselves as the best opportunity for him, but it’s becoming increasingly clear, as it’s been for some time that Love wants out.

Tuesday’s NBA Draft Lottery should create an interesting subtext to the process. Should one of the teams tied to Love land a higher than expected draft pick, there is a good chance that gets bundled with roster assets in an offer for Love. The Wolves are believed to have met with a number of 2014 NBA Draft prospects at the NBA Draft Combine that are out of their range with their expected 13th pick (should the standings hold true). This could be due diligence on the Wolves’ part, or this could be the beginning stages of accepting that it’s time to move Love while they can still return some value for him and somewhat control the process.

Data: Minnesota Timberwolves Salary Page

There is little doubt that Minnesota has the best asset in any trade involving Love, the question is can another team really tempt the Wolves into a deal on draft night and end the circus of speculation that will this play out past the Draft and into the offseason.

There are few teams in the NBA that could absorbs Love’s contract on Draft night, but that does not mean teams interested could complete a deal on Draft night and complete it once the new cap year rolls over in July.

There does not seem to be any shortage of rumors on this front, the question is will Minnesota finally buckle, which seems almost inevitable.

Data: Top 100 NBA Draft Prospects

Combine Buzz:  The 2014 NBA Draft Combine wrapped up on Saturday and while the entire field was not present (Joel Embiid, Jabari Parker and Andrew Wiggins did not attend) there were more than enough players involved to create some hype and buzz on a few guys that maybe didn’t have as much going for them going into the process as they do coming out of it.

2014 NBA Draft Combine Highs/Lows

Jordan Bachynski – 7’2″ with shoes
Jahii Carson – 5’11” with shoes
Jarnell Stokes – 263lbs
Russ Smith – 160lbs
Longest Wing:
Isaiah Austin – 7’4.5″
Shortest Wing:
Jahii Carson – 6’2″
Best Body fat:
Russ Smith – 3.5
Worst Body fat:
LaQuinton Ross – 16.3
Best Max Vert:
Markel Brown – 43.5″
Worst Max Vert:
Isaiah Austin – 29.5″
Best Sprint:
K.J. McDaniels – 3.10
Worst Sprint:
Isaiah Austin – 3.55

Dwight Powell

6’11” – 234lbs – 7’0.5″ Wingspan – 6.2 Body fat – 35.0 Max Vert – 3.2 Sprint

Powell measured well, interviewed well and created some fans, especially among teams drafting towards the bottom of the first round. Coming into the process Powell was viewed as a second round prospect at best, but he may have a chance to work his way into the bottom of the first or substantially higher in the second round than generally projected. In the limited shooting drills, Powell shot the ball fairly well logging 3-of-5, 4-of-5, and 4-of-5 from 23 feet and even better from the 15 foot mark. Look for Powell to surface on a number of teams workout lists; he has some fans. The question will be can he turn some positive Combine buzz into a first round selection?

Adreian Payne

6’9.75″ – 239lbs – 7’4″ Wingspan – 7.6 Body fat

Payne did not participate in the drill portion of the Combine or any of the athletic testing as he is still recovering from Mononucleosis. Payne did meet with NBA teams and while there were plenty of Mono jokes (‘Should we wear SARS masks?’ ‘Should I be worried, I shook his hand?’) most of the teams that met with him came away more than impressed. Payne has an extensive body of collegiate work and a lot of teams have Payne on their board fairly high. Payne will have to work out at some point in the process and while he is recovering, he has been training. Payne looked every bit the part of a NBA Draft pick, the question surrounding Payne is can he work his way into the lottery, he has that kind of fanfare behind him. If there is one guy in the mix that could go considerably higher than expected it might be Payne.

Noah Vonleh

6’9.5″ – 247lbs – 7’4.25″ Wingspan – 7.3 Body fat – 37.0 Max Vert – 3.28 Sprint

Vonleh did not participate in the drill portion of the Combine, but did participate in the measures and athletic testing. Vonleh measured in well, drawing a lot of verbal comparisons from NBA teams to Miami’s Chris Bosh who put up similar numbers coming out of Georgia Tech. Bosh measured in at 6’11.5″ and 225lbs and a 7’3.5″ wingspan coming into the NBA, compared to Vonleh’s 6’9.5″ and 247lbs with a 7’4.25″ wingspan. Vonleh was .523 from the field this season and .485 from three point range on 33 attempts. Bosh was .560 from the field and .478 from three on 46 attempts. A couple of the teams that met with Vonleh were impressed with his story and how he handled himself in interviews. While still on the outside of the top five for most teams, Vonleh is a dark horse once workouts begin, simply because of his ability to shoot the ball and his incredible length.

Johnny O’Bryant

6’8.5″ – 257lbs – 7’2.25″ Wingspan – 10.8 Body fat – 3.45 Sprint

O’Bryant coming into the process was expected to tip the scale on the heavy side, but he has done a good job of getting his weight and body fat down. O’Bryant interviewed well according to a couple of teams that met with him and there is a curiosity factor regarding O’Bryant. He is still on the bubble in terms of being a first round pick, but there was enough interest expressed to believe that O’Bryant is still in the hunt towards the bottom of the first round. It’s likely that O’Bryant pops up in the second round, but once workouts get underway O’Bryant is a name to watch.

Jarnell Stokes

6’8.5″ – 263lbs – 7’1.25″ Wingspan – 8.2 Body fat – 3.26 Sprint

Stokes likely couldn’t have done any better for himself in the Combine process. He drilled well. He tested well and he interview even better. Several teams at the bottom of the first round expressed interest in Stokes, but some of them commented they doubted that once workouts started that he’d be there for them. Just based on the numbers, Stokes has put up comparable physical numbers to Kentucky big man Julius Randle and shot the ball fairly well in the shooting drills. Stokes is still viewed as a bottom of the first to early-second round guy, but word is his dance card is filling up fast and if he does as well in workouts as he did in the Combine process his stock could be on the rise.

Zach LaVine

6’5.75″ – 181lbs – 6’8.25″ Wingspan – 4.7 Body fat – 3.19 Sprint

LaVine tested through the roof logging some of the best athletic numbers of the class. The problem is everyone in the gym knew he was a freakish athlete, what they wanted to see was whether he has found his jump shot. LaVine logged 3-for-5, 2-for-5 , 3-for-5, 4-for-5 and 2-for-5 from NBA three leaving that question lingering. LaVine was paired with the point guards but there was real doubt among scouts and executives about whether LaVine could run a NBA team. LaVine is clearly worth watching, but teams are going to want to see him shoot if he is genuinely going to be a point guard at the next level. LaVine drew some verbal comparison to 76ers guard Tony Wroten, who coming into the NBA carried the same ‘Can He Shoot?’ label. LaVine’s athleticism is off the charts, he’ll have to prove his doubters wrong in workouts to cement himself into the first round. His athletic numbers give him a strong edge, he’ll need to back that up in workouts and prove that he’s not just an effort guy.

Elfrid Payton

6’3.75″ – 185lbs – 6’8″ Wingspan – 5.7 Body fat – 3.23 Sprint

Payton did not participate in the drill portion of the Combine, but did participate in the measures and athletic testing. There was some real curiosity about Payton among teams and scouts and while Payton measured incredibly well he had a chance to prove some things about his game and opted not to participate. There is a sense that Payton could have some of the best raw talents in the point guard crop this year, but there is also a sense that his skills need serious patience and development time. The general vibe among teams and scouts is that Payton is the fourth best guard prospect in the class and while he measured solidly he didn’t do much else to improve his stock. Payton is expected to have a full workout load, so there will be a chance for him to lock in a solid draft position. The question becomes can he lock in teens to twenty pick or is he still around when the playoff teams start picking in the 20’s?

The 2014 NBA Draft Lottery will be held on May 20th. Basketball Insiders will have all the selections as they happen, so if you can’t be in front of your TV, swing by for the latest. Look for an updated 60 Pick Mock Draft following the official draft order and a new updated Consensus Mock Draft on Wednesday.

Story: 2014 Consensus Mock Draft Ver. 2.0

Up Close With DeAndre Daniels:  UCONN big man DeAndre Daniels talks about the Draft process for him, what he hopes to show NBA teams and who he has modeled his game after.

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Steve Kyler is the Editor and Publisher of Basketball Insiders and has covered the NBA and basketball for the last 17 seasons.

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