After playing for losing teams in all six years of his NBA career, Kevin Love will almost assuredly be a part of a winning season in 2014-2015. The Minnesota Timberwolves are looking to trade their star by the start of the season, and the big man’s possible destinations should all be contenders.
The Cleveland Cavaliers, Chicago Bulls and Golden State Warriors have all reportedly had serious discussions with Minnesota. Each team is already considered among the top 10 favorites to win the 2015 NBA Finals, according to Bovada.lv, and the team that acquires Love will only see their odds increase. While Love has a chance to be successful in all three locations, some of his options are better than others.
In a perfect world, Chicago would be the best landing spot for the 25-year-old. Of all the three teams in contention to trade for Love, the Bulls might have the best chance of winning a title with the power forward on their roster. Last season, the team won 48 games, even though Derrick Rose missed nearly 88 percent of the season. Adding a healthy Rose and a newly acquired Love could make the Bulls favorites to win the championship.
Chicago would also give Love a major market in which he could maximize his stardom. Love’s prolific numbers have made him popular in the NBA, but leaving Minnesota for a city like Chicago, Los Angeles or New York could help him become a household name.
While Love could flourish in Chicago, such a situation seems improbable. An offer centering on Taj Gibson and Jimmy Butler isn’t likely to be enough, as Cleveland appears willing to give up Andrew Wiggins and possibly Anthony Bennett. Golden State has been unwilling to trade Klay Thompson, but doing so would also put them ahead of Chicago in the Kevin Love Sweepstakes.
Love has very little control over where he plays next season. He’s set to become a free agent in 2015, but the Cavaliers and Warriors would both likely risk the chance of Love leaving in the summer. The team that acquires Love can offer him a much more lucrative contract than anyone else, giving them an edge in free agency.
A few weeks ago, Cleveland wouldn’t have traded Wiggins for Love, knowing that the All-Star could walk at the end of the season. Now that LeBron James has returned and made the Cavs a legitimate title contender, it’s hard to believe that Love would go elsewhere, after spending a season with the NBA’s best player. All things considered, Cleveland might be Love’s best option.
Following six losing seasons in the West, Love would thrive in the East. With James gone from Miami, the Heat will no longer dominate the conference like they have for the past four years. The Indiana Pacers should take a step back, as well, after winning 56 games and earning the No.1 seed. The Cavs already have the best betting odds of winning the title, and those would only increase after a trade for Love.
Love would help make the Warriors a better team, but they’d still have trouble competing in the West. Teams like the San Antonio Spurs, Oklahoma City Thunder and Los Angeles Clippers might still have a better chance of reaching the NBA Finals. While the Cavaliers would trade potential stars for Love, the Warriors would have to deal current contributors like David Lee and Thompson. Pairing Love and Stephen Curry would make Golden State a legitimate contender, but they would be affected by losing the players they were forced to trade.
From 2011 to 2014, the Heat dominated the East with three star players. The Cavs would have a chance to form a similar dynasty with James, Love and Kyrie Irving, who have an average age of just over 25 years old. Cleveland might not have been Love’s preferred destination at the start of the offseason, but joining the Cavs could help him become a perennial winner.
Before the start of the 2013-2014 season, many around the league thought that Love would find his way to the L.A. Lakers, considering he’s from the West Coast and went to college at UCLA. Los Angeles, though, doesn’t appear to have the assets to pull off a trade.