Before we just recklessly cannonball right in, let’s take a look and see how deep the water is.
As far as headlines go this week, well, anything goes. You’ll see a lot of phrases thrown around loosely, especially something along the lines of “Team X has interest in Player Y.”
Well, duh. Of course Team X has “interest” in Player Y, he’s under 24, plays on a rookie contract and is a borderline All-Star. Who wouldn’t have interest in him?
Another way to avoid headline traps is to not get lost in the positioning battle. Use your head. A large part of landing a trade this week is leverage. Teams may leak out that another team has interest in a player so a different team — a more realistic suitor — ups their offer. Long story short, you have to be careful what you choose to believe and not believe.
The big news of the day came Tuesday afternoon from Ken Berger of CBSSports, reporting that the Los Angeles Lakers (of course) and the Dallas Mavericks are trying to position themselves to pull off a trade with the Minnesota Timberwolves for All-Star forward Kevin Love. More from Berger:
The Lakers and Mavericks are trying to assemble trade offers for prospective free agent Kevin Love, but thus far the Timberwolves have given no indication they’ll consider moving the All-Star forward by Thursday’s deadline, league sources told CBSSports.com.
Love will be a free agent in 2015, and it is widely known around the league that he and his agent, New York-based Jeff Schwartz, are determined to get him to a major market. The Lakers, Love’s first choice, “have the best shot” of landing the Southern California native, one person familiar with the player’s thinking said. There is no incentive in the CBA for Love to sign an extension with Minnesota before he has a chance to decline his player option and hit the open market in July 2015.
The problem here is obvious, neither the Lakers or Mavs have much to offer Minnesota for a player of Love’s caliber.
Dallas does not have a 1st round pick to deal in 2014 because it is owed to the Oklahoma City Thunder. Match that with a severe lack of young and developing talent and I cannot see Flip Saunders, in his first year calling the shots, itching to trade his franchise player.
Similar to the Mavericks, the Lakers also have a severe lack of young talent, at least anything worth taking back for Love, and also do not have a 2014 1st round pick to trade. Yes, the Lakers do have a 2014 1st round pick — one that is looking pretty good — but because of the Stepien Rule, instituted because of a long run of disastrous picks and trades by former Cleveland Cavaliers Owner and de facto GM Ted Stepien, a team cannot trade first round picks in consecutive years.
The Lakers dealt last years first round pick to Cleveland, and next years first round pick to Phoenix, making this one unavailable. What is really unfortunate is that they also dealt their 2017 first round pick to Phoenix (both part of the Steve Nash trade before last season) so they are also unable to trade their 2016 1st round pick.
The Lakers have a loophole, though it is not a complete fix.
Enter the increasingly common “pick swap” option that you will likely see pop up in many trades this week. This way, the team that concedes a 1st round pick ensures that it keeps a first round pick. This would allow Minnesota to grab the Lakers pick — likely top six or seven — in a talented 2014 draft if it is willing to sacrifice its own — likely bottom of the lottery.
Still, other teams are said to be feverishly pursuing a premium first-round pick that could be included in a package for Love, a three-time All-Star who is fourth in the league in scoring (25.8 points per game) and second in rebounding (13.2).
In the end, it will fall on Timberwolves president Flip Saunders to pull the trigger on a Love deal or wait him out and hope he’s able to turn the franchise’s fortunes around in time to persuade him to stay. Minnesota has yet to make the playoffs in Love’s five seasons and is likely headed to the lottery again this year.
Let me reiterate, Kevin Love will not be traded before Thursday’s 3pm deadline.
Actually, let Flip Saunders (or somebody close to him) reiterate:
According to a person familiar with Saunders’ strategy, he has indicated there is “no way” he will trade Love by Thursday’s 3 p.m. ET deadline.
If other teams are pursuing Love (again, who wouldn’t?) keep an eye on the Orlando Magic and Cleveland Cavaliers. Cleveland is under a new GM, David Griffin, who is looking to make a statement that will allow him to remove the word “Acting” from his job description as General Manager.
Under former GM Chris Grant, the Cavaliers hoarded draft picks and asset for this exact type of situation. It was reported that a portion of Cleveland’s management urged Grant to pursue James Harden last offseason. For whatever reason, Grant did no strike.
Some of those picks that Grant made were head scratchers as far as roster fit, but the talent behind them has shown flashes of strong potential. See Dion Waiters Rising Stars performance this weekend. He finished with 31 points and seven assists.
Unlike the Lakers and Mavs, the Cavs could put together a package of Dion Waiters (2012 No. 4 pick), Anthony Bennett (2013 No. 1 pick) and a combination of future 1st round picks and other young talent (Sergey Karasev, 2013 No. 19 pick). To my knowledge this has not been discussed or proposed or anything like that, but the point is it’s not hard to see who could put together the most enticing package for Love, who would be a dreamy pair with Kyrie Irving.
The 2014 NBA trade deadline will come and go on Thursday, and we will see a few players moved around and a couple draft picks changing owners, but it is not likely that Kevin Love is playing for a new team.
At least not before Friday.
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