There are going to be a lot of absurd Kevin Love trade ideas over the next few months because I’ve found that people are usually slow to hop on what’s current. Look at Twitter. Twitter was around for a couple of years before people really latched on to it and accepted it as a reality in the social media world. Now? Everybody and their grandmas seem to be tweeting, we’ve got the social media platform in video games, and there seem to be very few people that don’t understand what is going on with Twitter.
I think we’re going to be that way with the Kevin Love trade rumors/offers for a little while. With David Kahn gone, Kevin Love no longer hates the team’s management. I don’t know if he likes Flip Saunders, but I know he doesn’t have contempt for him. Saunders is showing him respect and showing him that he’s the most important part of this franchise moving forward. These were never opinions David Kahn seemed to publicly show Kevin and certainly didn’t show him when he tried to trade him multiple times and insulted him multiples times during contract negotiations over his extension. Considering Love doesn’t have this saturating animosity toward Wolves’ management anymore, it seems unlikely he’ll request a trade any time soon.
That’s not going to stop teams from trying to trade for Love and really they shouldn’t stop trying. ESPN.com’s Andy Katz is reporting that the Cavaliers offered up Tristan Thompson, Dion Waiters, and the No. 1 pick in the draft in exchange for Love.
But the Cavs are also exploring trading the top pick since they’re not in love with any one player who in a “normal” year wouldn’t be a top pick. According to a source, Cleveland offered the No. 1 pick, Tristan Thompson and Dion Waiters to try and land Minnesota’s Kevin Love. But new Timberwolves president Flip Saunders won’t move Love.
The Cavs are fond of Thompson and Waiters — the latter being one of the top six rookies last season — but Cleveland would love to get an All-Star forward to pair with All-Star point guard Kyrie Irving.
I have many thoughts about this. I’ll try to organize them but expect a lot of incoherency. First of all, my reaction to the trade offer:
Now let’s go over a few things.
The Trade Offer Itself
Is there anything wrong with the offer the Cavs are throwing the Wolves’ way? I mean, it’s not nearly enough for Kevin Love. Love is one of the 15 best players in the league, if not better. Thompson is a role player, Waiters is a disastrous role player after his rookie season, and the No. 1 pick in this draft will yield a non-franchise player. Yes, Love had the worst season of his career, missed 3/4 of the season due to breaking his hand twice, and put pressure on the organization in an immature way multiple times over the previous year, but even with those specifics in his past, Love is worth a lot more than those three assets. The Cavs know it but had to try because you do your due diligence. More importantly, Flip Saunders and the Wolves know it.
The Cavs’ fan response has been pretty universal: it’s not a laughable trade because we don’t know how these guys are valued around the league. That has some validity but you’re no longer dealing with David Kahn here. Sure, you had to take a swing just to see what the response would be but the value is pretty one-sided in this affair. Let me explain.
Recently, we discussed the idea of the Wolves trading for MarShon Brooks of the Brooklyn Nets. If you thought the Wolves would want an inefficient gunner who can’t hit 3-pointers with MarShon, well wait until you get a look at Dion Waiters! No, seriously. Take a look at the comparison between Dion Waiters’ rookie year and what MarShon Brooks did in his first two seasons. It’s i-dentical.
The benefit here would be paying Dion Waiters more to play the same style of basketball you don’t think fits with what Rick Adelman preaches on offense and defense, but he’s a few years younger than MarShon Brooks. If you want a player like Waiters that badly, why wouldn’t you just trade the 26th pick to the Nets for Brooks?
As for Tristan Thompson, I thought he made some big strides in his second year. In his first year, he looked like another version of Joel Anthony and I’m not just saying that because they’re both Canadian centers that have melting butter sticks for fingers. Neither looked comfortable with the ball when they caught it. In year two for Thompson, he started rebounding the hell out of the basketball and making a decent percentage of his shots (from 43.9% to 48.8%). The talk that taking him over Jonas Valanciunas could now be challenged because it looks like Tristan Thompson was now capable of catching a basketball and doing things with it when he did.
However, I want you to look at his two seasons compared to somebody else — our friend Derrick Williams. Notice some similarities in their respective numbers after two seasons? They score about the same. They pass about the same. Thompson is a much better rebounder while Williams can knock down jumpers from outside and free throws. Williams, amazingly, is actually a better defender than Thompson too. He’s compiled more defensive win shares and he gave up an opponent PER of 14.0 at the power forward position last season, while Thompson gave up a 16.6. Would you really be getting a much different player than Williams?
And in case you were wondering about their respective abilities to finish around the basket, Thompson made 58.8% of his shots at the rim his rookie season and 62.4% in his second season. Williams has made 63.3% and 63.5% of his shots at the rim, respectively. Yes, the same Derrick Williams that frustrates fans with his inconsistency finishing around the basket is actually better at it than Thompson. I don’t know who will end up being the better player between the two, but I do feel confident in saying they’re pretty much equals at this point.
Then it comes down to the No. 1 pick in the draft. If this was magically for the No. 1 pick in the 2014 draft, I’d do this trade in a heartbeat because Andrew Wiggins might not end up being the next great thing, but it would be worth a shot. This draft, you’re looking at Nerlens Noel, Victor Oladipo,
Alex Len (I’m sorry, even Michael Olowokandi is laughing hysterically at that idea) or Otto Porter with the first pick in the draft. Whether you believe Kevin Love can be a franchise guy or the best player on a title contending team or not, I think we can all agree none of those guys are. And furthermore, those guys only look like good ideas on this roster if you already have Love there.
You can try spinning this deal as three lottery picks with potential for Love, but I’ll take the sure thing that we know is already a really good player, an All-Star, an All-NBA guy, and one of the 10-15 best players in the NBA depending on how you judge it. It’s a nice attempt at an offer, but it’s nothing the Wolves should ever consider. Flip Saunders was right to reject it. Speaking of…
Flip Saunders Tweeting
Flip Saunders tweeted out this little gem a short while after the “story” broke about the “trade proposal,” assuming it actually happened.
Have to chuckle at all the trade comments, proposals and some suggestions. DO enjoy them but please think first lol.
— Flip Saunders (@Flip_Saunders) June 26, 2013
There was this weird instant backlash about Flip including an “lol” in his tweet. I’m not quite sure how I feel about Flip being on Twitter. On the one hand, this is becoming much more of a regular thing. Daryl Morey has been spouting half-truths and giving little interesting tidbits on Twitter for years. Now that John Hollinger is helping run the Memphis Grizzlies, he’s another decision-maker running a team and live-tweeting events. Having your president, VP, or GM on Twitter is going to be a normal thing in a few years, assuming we still have Twitter.
Flip has been very interesting during the draft process, giving information about workouts and prospects. He’s also been oddly quiet about certain guys at weird times, clearly showing he has interest in that guy. I don’t know if Flip being vocal and honest on Twitter is a good or bad thing, but to be weirded out by him dropping a “laugh out loud” seemed a little forced. But maybe that’s a discussion for another time.
The Idea of Kevin Love and the Wolves Moving Forward
Kevin Love is going to opt out in 2015. How does that make you feel?
Are you panicked because of this? Are you worried that we’re not good enough? Are you afraid that Kevin Love is going to leave the Minnesota Timberwolves in 2015? When David Kahn was still around and making decisions or partial decisions for this team, I felt nervous about Love leaving. I still figured the Wolves have the upper hand and could ultimately carve out their own destiny with this situation, but having Kahn just spoiled the livestock.
But with him gone and Flip clearly working on building an amicable and close relationship with Love, I don’t feel worried about it anymore. I don’t think the Wolves have to even entertain the thought of trading him for the next year and a half. Sure, there’s the idea that you get out ahead of it now and try to maximize your return (sorry, Cleveland, but that ain’t it) like the Utah Jazz did with Deron Williams. But I kind of have this crazy thought about the whole Kevin Love-2015 situation.
Now hear me out.
What if this team is good and he stays? I’ll wait for everybody to pick their jaws up off the ground and continue reading.
Love is going to opt out because he’s smart and his agent is smart. It would be really stupid for Kevin Love to not opt out of his current deal in 2015. And in 2015, he’ll probably sign another three-year deal because in 2016 the television rights go up for auction (and I’m betting they at least double the current deal) and in 2017, we’re going to have another lockout. It will give Love one year of max security before he gets to take advantage of the new revenue the league brings in and the bigger contracts that brings in for star players.
But just because he opts out in 2015 doesn’t mean he’s leaving. It just doesn’t. He had a horrible relationship with Kahn that made him believe he doesn’t want to be here if Kahn is around. Instead, he has teammates that he loves, he has a coach that he respects more than anybody (although we have no clue if he’ll even entertain coaching still in 2015), and believe or not, he actually likes this town and the fans. I know that’s not the sexy, dramatic story some people want it to be, but that’s the case.
Until it looks like they might actually start have to worry about losing him, I’m going to sit back and laugh whenever someone tells me that Love is going to bolt when he can opt out. Unless you’re friends with Love, his agent, or Flip Saunders, any definitive talk involving “what ifs” the result in Love fleeing from this team just makes me flip the question back in the other direction. Then we circle each other like dogs trying to sniff each other’s butts and that’s not a very productive way for humans to interact.
For now, Love is going to be involved in rumors and they’re just that — rumors. They mean nothing and it’s usually people trying to drum up interest or convince themselves their dead-ass team is still moving in the right direction. Let’s have fun on Thursday and enjoy the draft.