While the NBA Eastern Conference Finals were about to begin on Sunday afternoon, the majority of people around and covering the league were discussing current Minnesota Timberwolves power forward Kevin Love. More specifically, the discussions were centered around how Love essentially has no desire to be the Timberwolves’ power forward for much longer.
According to multiple reports on Sunday morning and afternoon, Love has told the Wolves that he plans to enter free agency next summer and is not interested in signing a contract extension with Minnesota. Love then continued on to say that he would have potential interest in the Chicago Bulls and the Golden State Warriors as potential trade destinations.
There’s a strong argument to be made that Love is the best power forward in the league today. He’s not without shortcomings—his defense being the most notable—but he’s also one of the most prolific rebounders in the Association and has become an incredibly versatile scorer. While Minnesota undoubtedly would like to keep a player of his talents around, this is also a situation that the Timberwolves should have seen the writing for on the walls for quite a while now.
Given how long that people have been predicting Love’s departure from the Timberwolves, you have to believe that they have a contingency plan in place. While the quick logic may be to say “trade Love, acquire players and assets of equal value in return, and then try and move forward from there,” that might not be the best plan for the organization.
Looking at the list of suitors, there’s no team that can really offer the Wolves any player or slew of players that add up to equal value of their All-Star power forward. Moreover, if a team like the Bulls or Warriors offer a first-round pick in return for Love, that pick isn’t going to have much value considering how good those teams already are and will be once they add a vital piece like Love.
If I’m the Wolves, I ride out the last year of Love’s contract and then rebuild with the other pieces that are already in place in Minnesota and through your own draft and free agency moves rather than panic-trading Love. More than most, that’s the most proven way for a small-market team to build.
Another factor in the reasoning to play out the rest of Love’s contract is the fact that Love’s mind isn’t made. Sure, he’s definitely thinking about other destinations and is leaning towards leaving, but that doesn’t mean that he’s already gone. A winning season or change of fortunes in Minnesota could still sway him, though that might be a naïve train of thought.
Things are going to get difficult for the Timberwolves organization and things are going to get that way very soon. However, Love leaving isn’t the end of the world. This team has seen a star leave and rebuilt before, a la Kevin Garnett. It might not be easy, but it looks like they’ll have to do it again. I’m just not sure that trading him now would be the best way to go about doing so.