It’s no secret that Kevin Love wants out of town, and that means rumors will circulate throughout the summer as the Minnesota Timberwolves try to figure out what deal will help cope with the loss of their franchise player.
On Wednesday, our Chris Sheridan revealed what the Chicago Bulls offered for the coveted power forward, and it may be the best deal out there for Flip Saunders – at least for the time being:
The Chicago Bulls have offered a package of Taj Gibson and rookies Doug McDermott and Nikola Mirotic to the Minnesota Timberwolves for All-Star forward Kevin Love, a league source told SheridanHoops.com on Wednesday.
The source who spoke to SheridanHoops said he believed the Bulls’ offer was better in the minds of the Wolves than the Cavs’ current offer of Wiggins, Anthony Bennett and a first-round pick.
So that’s a mighty big offer from the Bulls.
It’s interesting that they are willing to go this route right after signing Pau Gasol and finally getting Mirotic to join the team, but it’s not every day that you have the chance to acquire someone of Love’s caliber. They also have to offer something just as enticing or more than what the Cleveland Cavaliers are willing to offer, so the amount of tremendous assets offered – both offensively and defensively – is no surprise. In return, they would have a chance to start Derrick Rose, Jimmy Butler, Mike Dunleavy, Love and Joakim Noah – a lineup that almost sounds too good to be true (Dunleavy aside, that is).
Gibson, who is included in the offer, admits that being a part of trade rumors is never an easy thing to deal with, from Nick Friedell of ESPN Chicago:
Taj Gibson admits trade rumors are “tough”. He still wants to be in Chicago. — Nick Friedell (@NickFriedell) July 23, 2014
The power forward has spent his entire career with the Bulls and played a major part in helping them become one of the most intimidating defensive teams over the years, so his frustration is understandable. He has always wanted to be a starter, though, and a trade to Minnesota would likely fulfill that wish.
Despite this latest rumor, the Timberwolves aren’t exactly in a huge rush to trade away their best player just yet, according to Sam Amick of USA Today:
On the Kevin Love front, the word out of Cleveland yesterday was that the T-Wolves still weren’t showing any urgency to get a deal done.
— Sam Amick (@sam_amick) July 23, 2014
Of course, it’s best to listen to all available offers for a player of Love’s caliber, and it’s possible that offers could continue to improve from various teams as they try to one-up another. Still, the note from Sam Amick has to make some wonder if the Timberwolves are seriously thinking they can convince Love to change his mind. During summer league play, owner Glen Taylor expressed that he hopes and even expects Love to be with the team when training camp begins. It’s not the worst thing to remain hopeful about your franchise player, but if they drag out the process for too long, teams looking to acquire him may eventually wear thin on the situation. Of course, there’s also the risk of holding on for too long and end up losing him for nothing – something Saunders is probably too smart to let happen. One team already looking to move on from the Love sweepstakes is Boston, according to A. Sherrod Blakely of CSNNE:
There’s no waiving of the white flag just yet, but the Boston Celtics appear to be ready to move on from their pursuit of Minnesota star Kevin Love, league sources tell CSNNE.com.
“The more teams step up and show interest in Love, the further Boston falls in the pack,” a source said on Wednesday. “Danny’s a smart guy. He knows when to keep pushing for something and when to move on.”
That’s why the Celtics are reportedly among the clubs to express some interest in being a third team to help facilitate a trade involving Love to what one source said has become his “preferred” destination, Cleveland.
As for the Golden State Warriors, they still theoretically could jump ahead of everyone else by including Klay Thompson in a deal for Love. According to Tim Kawakami of Mercury News, however, losing Thompson to gain Love may ultimately be a risk they do not want to take. And for some reason, they still consider David Lee more valuable than he actually is:
Remember, nobody in the league values Lee as much as the Warriors do. That’s their call and their right, but it’s also just a plain fact.
Lacob in particular doesn’t believe Lee should ever be considered a throw-in on a big deal–and that Lee’s defense isn’t as bad as many say (that’d be me!), that Lee’s hard work on the floor and attitude in the locker room cannot be discounted when you add up his value to the GSWs.
And if the Warriors take Thompson out of their perimeter defense, then they are exposing Curry far more than they ever want to… with no guarantee of ever getting another 2-guard who can shoot like Thompson AND defend the opponents’ toughest perimeter players.
Which gives Thompson even more value. Even if he costs the mini-max (starting at about $15.5M a year, in 2015-16), Thompson does things for the Warriors that they consider integral to who they are and why they can be dangerous in the West playoffs.
Love would obviously do that, too, but the upgrade with Love minus Thompson just isn’t enough in the Warriors’ minds to justify all the other things they’d have to do in this deal.
Joe Lacob should really, really consider re-watching the series against the Los Angeles Clippers in last season’s playoffs to remind himself of this: when it comes down to it against the best teams in the West, Lee is a liability on both ends of the floor and sometimes, he can even be a complete disaster.
Lee is not a good pick-and-roll partner for Stephen Curry because he can no longer shoot from the perimeter and is absolutely terrible at finishing around the basket unless the area is almost completely vacant. If he sees any long or big defender like Serge Ibaka, DeAndre Jordan or Marc Gasol camped around the post area, Lee’s mind simply shrinks in fear. Why? Because he can’t take them out of their comfort zone without a shot, and he knows getting a shot over them in the paint will be a highly-difficult task. Unlike players such as Blake Griffin, LaMarcus Aldridge, Love and other quality power forwards in the West, you can’t just dump the ball down to Lee and expect him to score or create in an effective manner. His constant hesitation from the perimeter leading to a drive to the basket that ultimately ends up being a blocked shot (he had 15 shots swatted back at him against the Clippers) or a terrible shot attempt has been a very concerning look for the Warriors offense. Again, this is specifically about Lee’s inability to perform at a high level against top notch competition. Against teams like Detroit and Orlando where there is dysfunction, he can be absolutely fantastic. For the purpose of where the Warriors ultimately want to go, though, his production against weaker teams is irrelevant from a big-picture standpoint.
Against the Clippers, Lee’s offense – just 13.9 points – almost exclusively came from the pick-and-roll with Curry or on wide-open baskets and put-backs. That point total is flippin’ bad, given how frequently involved Lee is in the team’s schemes. He essentially attempted no shots from beyond 10 feet despite always being open in that range, and a whopping 80.5 percent of his converted baskets were assisted – by far the highest mark among starting power forwards of the west in the playoffs. In other words, he often mucked up the offense with many of his limitations, and scored almost only in situations where anyone else in his position could have scored. The points he did score were not significant enough to warrant having him out on the floor for 30-plus minutes, but the Warriors didn’t necessarily have a better choice with Andrew Bogut out of the equation. And really, he did a hell of a job making DeAndre Jordan look as if he was an MVP-caliber player. Jordan averaged 12.1 points, 15.1 rebounds and four blocks against the Warriors. He proceeded to average 6.7 points, 9.5 rebounds and 0.8 blocks against the Oklahoma City Thunder in the next round.
So to be clear, Lee can’t spread the floor, doesn’t finish well, can’t create his own offense and is generally a bad defender. Given the importance of the power forward position in the West, acquiring Love to replace Lee would greatly enhance their chances of moving past some of the better teams come playoff time. Sure, they’d lose Thompson’s defense, but Shaun Livingston (who can play shooting guard if called upon to do so) and Brandon Rush are no slouches in that department. They’d also likely acquire Kevin Martin in a deal for Love, and he’s probably about as good as Thompson is from an offensive standpoint.
Thompson is undoubtedly a rare asset for any team. He shouldn’t be considered more valuable than Love, though, especially given who currently mans the Warriors’ power forward position.
OTHER NEWS FROM AROUND THE LEAGUE:
- The New York Knicks have released Shannon Brown:
July 23, 2014 – New York Knickerbockers President Phil Jackson announced today that the team has waived guard Shannon Brown. — NY_KnicksPR (@NY_KnicksPR) July 23, 2014
- Ray Allen is strongly considering a return for one more season to join LeBron James in Cleveland, according to Gary Washburn of Boston Globe:
NBA source tells Globe that Ray Allen is leaning toward returning for 19th season and joining LeBron James with #cavaliers
— gary washburn (@GwashburnGlobe) July 24, 2014
- The New Orleans Pelicans have released Omri Casspi, according to Marc Stein of ESPN: “New Orleans, as expected, has released newly acquired forward Omri Casspi, who will find new team in free agency if he clears waivers. Omri Casspi has already publicly expressed interest in returning to Kings and word is Sacramento is planning to put in a waiver claim on him.”
- Also according to Stein, Jameer Nelson is close to signing with the Dallas Mavericks: “The Dallas Mavericks are closing in on signing former Orlando Magic point guard Jameer Nelson, according to sources briefed on the talks. Sources told ESPN.com that Nelson and the Mavericks, barring an unforeseen snag, are on track to formalize a contract Thursday, when Nelson visits Dallas. ESPN.com reported Tuesday that the Mavericks had arranged to fly Nelson into town for a face-to-face visit Thursday in the hopes of finalizing a deal via use of their $2.7 million room exception.”
- Anthony Davis is looking forward to being more of an exclusive power forward in the upcoming season with Omer Asik on board, from Jim Eichenhofer of NBA.com: “Whatever position the team wants me to play, I’m going to do it and try my best and excel at it, but my game is really more of a power forward’s,” Davis said. “This is going to help my game a lot. I like playing the four. Now I get a chance to work on more stuff, knowing that I’ll be playing the four a lot more than I have in the past couple of years.”… As Davis points out, there are also NBA power forwards who have thicker body types than Davis, including players such as Kevin Love, LaMarcus Aldridge and Blake Griffin, but that trio prefers to face the basket on offense, instead of backing down defenders. That’s a better fit for Davis’ 6-foot-10, 238-pound frame and elite athleticism. “I think their games are similar to mine,” Davis said of the three aforementioned Western Conference All-Stars. “They’re not back-to-the-basket kinds of players. If a player is a face-up guy, it’s more of a case for me to just be able to stay in front of him on defense. If he’s a five, you have to fight your way and battle with him in that low post. It’s not just that they’re heavier; the biggest difference is the way they play. Most (centers) aren’t doing a lot of facing up or making plays off the dribble.”
- Doc Rivers may not want to coach the Los Angeles Clippers if Donald Sterling remains the owner of the team, according to Arash Markazi of ESPN LA: “As Dick Parsons, the interim CEO of the Los Angeles Clippers, testified in state court Tuesday about the uncertain future of the team, he outlined an accelerated “death spiral” for the Clippers if Donald Sterling were to remain the owner. “If none of your sponsors want to sponsor you,” Parsons said. “And your coach doesn’t want to coach for you and your players don’t want to play for you, what do you have?”… “We’re in so long as Donald Sterling is out,” Parsons said when describing his conversation with several sponsors that have yet to commit to the team for the upcoming season… “Doc is as troubled by this as anybody, and maybe more so,” Parsons said. “He has told me that if Mr. Sterling continues to own the team, he doesn’t think he wants to continue as coach.”
- Raymond Felton pleaded guilty in court to gun charges, according to The A.P.: “Dallas Mavericks point guard Raymond Felton pleaded guilty Wednesday in a New York gun case, taking a plea deal that involved admitting a felony but spares him jail.Felton pleaded guilty to attempted criminal possession of a weapon and criminal possession of a firearm. He admitted he knowingly had a large-capacity ammunition magazine and a semi-automatic pistol without a license. “Are those charges true?” Manhattan state Supreme Court Justice Larry Stephen asked. “Yes, sir,” Felton said, later adding in a soft voice: “I apologize. I realize what I did was wrong.” He was immediately sentenced to 500 hours of community service and ordered to pay a $5,000 fine. Manhattan Assistant District Attorney Jonathan Rebold said Felton will be allowed to do the service outside New York.”
- Nikola Mirotic described what the Chicago Bulls can expect out of his game, from Sherron Shabazz of SLAM Online: “I think I’m a smart player. I like to create a lot for the team but I know that I need to be strong, especially mentally. I know that I have to do a lot of things to improve, but I’m ready. I know that my coach and my teammates will help me, but it’s important to do the job step by step. I’m ready and I want to help them… I like to put the ball on the floor. I like to run the court. I like to play pick and pop to the three-point line. This is the strongest thing in my game. Sure, I know that Chicago is a great defensive team so I need to help them in the defense. I need to improve so I think that I can help them a lot… I’m ready to accept my role on the team. In Madrid I’m always starter. For sure this is different. This is NBA. I don’t care if I start or don’t start. I have to do my job and I play, so that’s it.”
- Zach Lowe of Grantland explains one of the reasons why Eric Bledsoe is still somewhat of a question mark in the NBA from a health standpoint: “The Suns’ offer would pay Bledsoe exactly what fellow bulldog Kyle Lowry will make over the next four years, and much more than Mike Conley, Brandon Jennings, and Jeff Teague. That seems fair, considering Bledsoe has never logged 2,000 minutes in any season, and missed major time last season after undergoing a second operation on the meniscus cartilage in his right knee. Lawson and Holiday logged more combined minutes in their first three seasons, before signing contract extensions, than Bledsoe has in four full NBA campaigns. The luck of landing on Chris Paul’s team obviously affected that, but so have injuries and major early issues with shooting and turnovers.”
- Tim MacMahon of ESPN Dallas reports that the Mavericks have voided the contract of Rashard Lewis: “The Dallas Mavericks voided the contract for Rashard Lewis after discovering that the veteran forward needed surgery on his right knee. “It came to our attention during Rashard Lewis’ physical that he is in need of a medical procedure on his right knee,” Mavs president of basketball operations Donnie Nelson said in a statement released by the team. “We wish him all the best for a speedy recovery and continued success in his remarkable career.” Lewis signed a one-year contract for the veteran’s minimum with the Mavs last week.”
James Park is the chief blogger and deputy editor of Sheridan Hoops. Find him on twitter @SheridanBlog.