As the NBA world screeched to a halt following the news of LeBron James‘ decision to return to his hometown Cleveland Cavaliers, the first in what could be a massive series of dominoes has now fallen. The Miami Heat responded by offering Chris Bosh a max deal, but now the focus is going to be on who else the Cavs could target to help the returning “King James.” That target appears set squarely on Kevin Love and the Minnesota Timberwolves now find themselves in an unexpected position of power.
The Wolves were put in a tough spot when their all-star forward made it known that he had no intention of signing a long-term extension in Minnesota. Really, from a business perspective, who could blame him? Not only has the team gone ten straight seasons without a playoff berth, but we’re also in an era of unprecedented power on the part of the star player to choose his own path. It’s the same thing that allowed James, Bosh, and Dwyane Wade to take their collective talents to South Beach, and now it’s happening around the league.
So what will the Wolves do with that power? With Flip Saunders back as head coach, it was a surprise that they didn’t make a move with Love before the draft, but ironically their inaction may have helped out. The Cavaliers have reportedly made an offer of Dion Waiters, Anthony Bennett and a future first-round pick in exchange for Love, but that really isn’t enough.
No, the Wolves now have the ability – really, the duty – to get every last bit of value they can if they’re to play this season without Kevin Love. Even if the Cavaliers don’t bring enough value to the table, Saunders can use their obvious desire to land the star big man to drive up the price for other teams. If the Wolves want Andrew Wiggins from Cleveland, or Klay Thompson from the Golden State Warriors, or anybody else, they can’t botch this golden opportunity.
The David Kahn era is still far too fresh in Timberwolves fans’ minds, and the specter of the Kevin Garnett trade from seven years ago lingers on. With demand for Love’s services at its peak, Saunders must get the perfect deal, or be willing to walk away from the table.