Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Bringing Kevin Love Back to Minnesota

The Minnesota Timberwolves are reportedly willing to trade their #7 draft pick in a package to help them acquire a more established veteran. The Cleveland Cavaliers are expected to at least discuss Kevin Love trades this off-season.

So, that left me wondering, what kind of a package could the Timberwolves put together to bring their former all star back to Minnesota? Here's my suggestion: A Three-Way Trade between Cleveland, Minnesota and Chicago.

The Cavs have reportedly been burning the midnight oil the past few days trying to put together a trade package that could land then Chicago Bulls superstar Jimmy Butler. Without a third team, a Butler trade seems very unlikely, mainly because the Bulls would be foolish to trade Butler for Love at this point and the Cavs have no other assets.

However, a team that covets Love may have the necessary young pieces and draft picks to send Jimmy Butler to Cleveland and Kevin Love to their team. The Wolves could offer their #7 pick, Kris Dunn and a future draft pick, while Cleveland would likely need to throw in 2 future draft picks. That would create a deal like this:

Chicago Receives: PG Kris Dunn, #7 overall pick, Minnesota's 2022 first round pick (Top 6 protected), Cleveland's 2021 first round pick (unprotected), Cleveland's 2023 first round pick (lottery protected)

Cleveland Receives: F/G Jimmy Butler

Minnesota Receives: F Kevin Love
Admittedly, this may be a bit of a stretch for Chicago to accept, especially if the Celtics are willing to make the #3 pick available. However, if the Celtics continue to low-ball Chicago, and the Bulls remain interested in Kris Dunn, this trade would allow them to add young, talented, athletic players this season while loading up on draft picks for the future. The Cleveland pick in 2021 could be very valuable, depending on how LeBron ages and if he and/or Butler sticks around, but the Cavs would have to include it to swap Love for Butler.

The Wolves should have enough cap space to acquire Love without matching salaries, but if they are over the cap for some reason they could send Pekovic's contract to Chicago to make it work as well.

Now, one may ask if Kevin Love even makes sense for the Wolves to acquire, especially since the team's biggest weakness is it's defense. Acquiring Love at this point would also put the team into luxury tax territory long-term, as Wiggins, Towns and Lavine's contracts need extending. Add-in the fact that the Western conference looks like it's going to belong to the Golden State Warriors for the foreseeable future, and I understand the concern some may have for mortgaging the future to acquire Kevin Love.

But my argument is that this team has been looking toward the future for over a decade, and the team is in a great position to pair an established veteran with it's young developing core. A Rubio-Lavine-Wiggins-Love-Towns starting lineup is so far above the kind of talent Love and Rubio played with in their time together that the team would almost certainly be a playoff contender, and with the right kind of free agent additions could be a top 4 seed in my opinion.

Golden State will be the heavy favorite, of course, but the goal should be to get to the playoffs and see what happens. An injury or two to Golden State could change the whole landscape of the league, and after a decade of losing, it'd be nice to see the Timberwolves reward the loyal fans who remain by trying to compete this coming season. And for those worried about Love's numbers dropping in Cleveland, remember he's playing with Kyrie Irving, a superb talent who quite frankly is not very good at getting others involved. The return to Ricky Rubio would see Love's numbers spike, and acquiring Love would hopefully squash all the Rubio trade rumors once and for all.

While I, like most fans, would prefer Jimmy Butler to Love, the fact remains Love should be a easier to acquire which makes him a more realistic target given the Wolves above average assets. It remains highly unlikely, but after all the losing we've endured, forgive me for being a bit delusional.



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