Race for Kevin Love: Which NBA team has the edge?

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Kevin Love desire to leave the Minnesota Timberwolves is bar none the worst kept secret in the NBA. Several reports emerged claiming he was unhappy in the Midwest and he wanted to move to a contender or a major market team.

But if that wasn’t “subtle” enough, he began laying into his teammates to the point where the likes of J.J. Barea had to tell him to cool it. Not exactly the ideal conditions for a productive environment, is it?

Yet for all the problems his desire to depart has caused, Minnesota have been reluctant to trade him thus far, presumably holding out for more assets in any talks of an exchange.

The first major discussions were with the Golden State Warriors who were prepared to include an All-Star calibre talent in David Lee, along with Harrison Barnes. Although they were reluctant to add sharpshooter and long-time Timberwolves target Klay Thompson into the mix. However that hasn’t stopped them from making a second wave attempt to woo Minnesota.

Nevertheless, the Cleveland Cavaliers remain favourites to snag Love with an offer based around last year’s No.1 overall pick Anthony Bennett and this year’s top pick, Andrew Wiggins. The problem with that move now is that Wiggins has signed his rookie contract, meaning Cleveland can’t trade him for at least 30 days. While that may not sound like a lot to you and me, it’s an eternity to wait that long in NBA terms. 

Plus, the competition is heating up with the Chicago Bulls joining the fray.

Chicago had intentions of adding Love to their roster earlier in the offseason, but that was put on hold when they believed there was a possibility of adding Carmelo Anthony. Also, they weren’t willing to give up last year’s Sixthman of the Year runner up Taj Gibson so the deal fell apart. But things have changed now. 

The addition of Pau Gasol means Chicago still has a high calibre bigman to replace Gibson. Although they would have to be prepared to throw in their defensive stud Jimmy Butler (in addition to a few other assets) in order to entice the Timberwolves.

Looking at all three offers, it’s quite difficult to say which team presents the best offer. The Bulls are offering an instant upgrade on defensive for a team that allowed the fourth most amount of point per game (104.3) last year. While losing Love’s 26 points and 12 rebounds per game isn’t ideal, at least they would still have the passing of Ricky Rubio to unlock defences. Besides, Gibson isn’t too bad a scorer either.

The Cavs meanwhile, are offering the promise of a bright future and a player that is bound to draw crowds into the Target Center in Andrew Wiggins. Last year, Minnesota had the third worst attendance in the NBA with an average of 14,564. However, the combination of an athletic potential superstar like Wiggins, the high flying antics of Zach Lavine and the passing exploits of Rubio would get Timberwolves fans excited to at least see some show stopping highlights.

At the very least, it gives them something to smile about while the losing continues.

(Let’s be honest, with or without Love next season, there is no way wins all that much in the meat grinder that is the Western Conference.)

Furthermore, Anthony Bennett has lost weight and is starting to show signs of why he went first overall in last year’s Draft besides the fact that, you know… the 2013 class wasn’t all that impressive. Nonetheless, the point remains. He looked great playing in the Summer League and may actually be good next year.

On the other hand, should they be willing to include Thompson, the most enticing offer is perhaps Golden State’s. He is a great two way player who has evolved immensely from just being a deadly accurate shooter over the years. Now he is able to take the ball off the dribble and has improved significantly on the defensive end.

David Lee is also get pretty darn good player and he is the closest thing to a direct Kevin Love replacement, any of the teams are offering. Just last year, he averaged 18.2 points and 9.3 rebounds per outing, even though he wasn’t the primary option on offense. Imagine what he could do with a pass first point guard running the show. 

But that’s all dependent on whether the Warriors are willing to part with one half of the “Splash Brothers” or not.

In fact, all these scenarios are dependent on whether Minnesota actually wants to do business or not. Wolves owner Glen Taylor has insisted on numerous occasions that he is keen to keep Love, despite his very public reluctance to commit past next season.

Essentially, all this speculation is based around rival general managers believing they are not willing to let him go for nothing next summer. Still, it’s hard to envision Kevin Love staying in Minnesota. One way or another, a trade seems imminent.

Preferably sooner rather than later, so we can move past this saga. 

Cleveland Cavaliers
Chicago Bulls
Golden State Warriors
Minnesota Timberwolves

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