Kevin Love remains with the Minnesota Timberwolves, but that’s not likely to be the case at the start of the 2014-2015 NBA season. Minnesota appears intent on trading their best player, and two teams have emerged as legitimate landing spots for the All-Star.
A month ago, the Golden State Warriors were the frontrunners to acquire Love, but the two sides were unable to come to terms because the Timberwolves were insistent upon receiving Klay Thompson. Soon after LeBron James returned to Cleveland, the Cavaliers became the most likely landing spot for Love, considering the team could offer No.1 overall draft pick Andrew Wiggins. While Cleveland may have been hesitant to include Wiggins in a potential deal, the organization is reportedly willing to part ways with the rookie.
Now, Yannis Koutroupis of Basketball Insiders reports that Golden State would deal Thompson, if it meant getting Love in return. With both teams vying to acquire Love, which has the best chance to land him?
Both teams can offer Minnesota very strong packages. Love’s future will likely depend on what the Timberwolves prioritize.
If Minnesota is solely looking towards the future, the Cavaliers can offer them the best deal. It’s unknown what kind of pro Wiggins will become, but he has a lot of potential. He’s one of the highest-rated prospects in recent memory, and was selected first in the best draft since 2003.
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Wiggins wouldn’t be the only top selection the Timberwolves would get in a trade with Cleveland. According to ESPN, the Cavaliers are also willing to deal Anthony Bennett, who was the No.1 overall pick a year ago. Bennett had, perhaps, the worst rookie season of any top pick in NBA history averaging just 4.2 points per game on 35.6 percent shooting from the field. Still, Bennett is just 21 years old with the chance to be a good NBA player.
Accepting the Cavaliers’ trade proposal would make the Timberwolves one of the worst teams in the NBA, but that might be ideal for Minnesota. Last year the team missed the playoffs, but only got the No.13 draft pick. No trade is going to make the Timberwolves an NBA Finals contender in 2015, and it might be best for the team to tank and ensure themselves a high draft selection.
Unlike Cleveland, Golden State could offer Minnesota a chance to be competitive. The Warriors have reportedly discussed giving the Timberwolves David Lee and Harrison Barnes. Adding Thompson to the deal would give Minnesota three legitimate starters for Love, and possibly Kevin Martin, who the Timberwolves might look to unload in a trade.
Lee is not nearly as good as Love, but he can make up for some of the production that Minnesota would lose without their best player. While Love led the league in double-doubles last year, Lee accomplished the same feat in the previous season. The trade wouldn’t elevate the Timberwolves into the upper echelon of the West, but they’d still have a chance to be competitive and have a winning record.
Thompson has already proven himself to be one of the best shooting guards in the NBA, and he could very well become an All-Star. He’s increased his scoring average each season, averaging 18.4 points in 2013-2014. At just 24 years old, he could be the new face of the Timberwolves. Minnesota’s decision might rest on what they believe Thompson's ceiling to be.
When James announced that he’d return to Cleveland, the Cavs immediately became the favorites to win the 2015 NBA Finals. Adding Love, though, would likely increase their odds. The Warriors are a top contender in the West, but four teams in the conference have better title odds, according to Bovada.lv. By pairing Love with Stephen Curry, Golden State could become legitimate threats to the defending champion San Antonio Spurs.
There’s no guarantee that Love would re-sign with the Cavs or Warriors, considering it’s almost a guarantee that he’ll test free agency in 2015. The team that acquires him would have a significant advantage and be able to offer him the most money.