Friday before the Los Angeles Lakers are scheduled to play the Minnesota Timberwolves, Kobe Bryant made an interesting comment to ESPNLA Lakers beat writer Dave McMenamin regarding some Timberwolves fans growing speculation that the ‘Wolves would be better off without All-Star forward Kevin Love:
“I agree … You can send him our way,” Bryant quipped.
Even though Bryant was making this statement jokingly and probably in response to Ricky Rubio’s comments earlier in the week that the Timberwolves would love to have Pau Gasol, a Kevin Love for Gasol swap raises some intrigue and isn’t too far-fetched for a number of reasons.
First, Love has not been shy about his dissatisfaction with Timberwolves management and not wanting to continue playing for a losing franchise. Love was quoted as saying back in December that he would remember Timberwolves owner Glen Taylor proclaiming that Love wasn’t a “star.”
Said Love at the time, “I have a very, very good memory, and I always remember the people who have done right by me, and the people who have done wrong by me,” he says. “It will be embedded in my brain, and something I won’t forget about. There’s no telling what will happen. I would love to compete for a championship in Minnesota, but …”
It’s also been clear to anyone paying attention that the Timberwolves are enamored with the potential of young point guard Rubio, who is very close friends with fellow Spaniard Pau Gasol. Gasol has repeatedly voiced his displeasure with his role in Mike D’Antoni’s system, whereas Love would be the perfect stretch power forward for the Lakers offense.
And you can’t overlook the facts that Kevin Love is from Los Angeles and played his college ball at UCLA. What better way to appease both Love and Gasol than to trade them for one another?
Of course, the logistics of such a deal would need to be worked out – Gasol is due to make $19.2 million in the final year of his contract next season and Love has about $30 million guaranteed over the next two seasons with a $16.7 million player option for the 2015-16 season. The Lakers would have to take an additional player in any deal with the Timberwolves to facilitate trade financially, with J.J. Barea and/or forward Derrick Williams being prime candidates. Maybe even bring in a third team that has some draft pick assets to take Nikola Pekovic, who has been the subject of trade rumors all season.
The Timberwolves would be able to get from under the long-term responsibility for Love’s contract while keeping their young face of the franchise happy in the short term. It works.
Kevin Love is currently rehabbing from a second hand injury, but should be returning sometime around March. If the Lakers continue to struggle and Gasol remains vocal about his unhappiness coming off the bench, exchanging the two All-Star caliber players for one another would be the ideal situation for both teams.