Dec 29, 2012; Minneapolis, MN, USA; Minnesota Timberwolves forward Kevin Love (42) against the Phoenix Suns at the Target Center. The Timberwolves defeated the Suns 111-107. Mandatory Credit: Brace Hemmelgarn-USA TODAY Sports

Bill Simmons Trolls the Timberwolves, Part 3

The first two Wolvesian installments of this Trolling Troll’s list were steeped in hyperbole and pulled some punches by playing favorites, but Simmons saves his most critical critical thinking for #20 on his list, Kevin Love. It’s a perfect opportunity to rehash Glen Taylor’s decision not to lock Love up with a 5-year max offer — in light of the recent, but still unofficial, news that David Kahn has been relieved of his duties, all decision’s credit and blame belong directly around Taylor’s neck.

As he is wont to do, Simmons gets carried away with the story and lets it take priority over the facts. There’s no evidence Ricky Rubio is going to be receiving the 5-year contract Love didn’t. There’s actually more evidence of Taylor’s reluctance to give anyone that contract — which ought to be a bigger story, with greater CBA implications, and more name-calling, Monday-morning-quarterbacking columns for the national hacks to have a go with, but instead Simmons’ readers are treated to premature trade speculation inspired by the Utah Jazz dealings with Deron Williams, in which they pulled a trade a year before the will-he-or-won’t-he-stay year-long circus even started, but after he had already worn out his welcome with the Jerry Sloan fiasco, not a small difference — but that’s not the point! It’s an angle.

The particularly awful trade speculation involves the same ingredients Wolves fans picked at in the KG trade: horrible contracts on their last fumes, one or two young and unproven or overhyped player-prospects, and possible high draft picks. Simmons’ example is Chicago and includes the same names Wolves fans have heard for years, like Deng, Boozer and the rights to Mirotic.

No matter how good Jimmy Butler seems — if the Wolves are stupid for not locking Love in to a 5-year max offer, why would they be smart to send him out in exchange for mixed parts — none of which approach Love’s individual value — and would most certainly leave them remaining in the shallow end of the Western Conference, punching Ricky’s ticket out of town?

To Simmons, being a smart front office means sending as many fantasy basketball studs to the same team whether it’s your team or not. As a fan of the league, that’s his mission and his only real goal. As a clown columnist, that’s his narrative.

Here’s the garbage cut:

20. Kevin Love 

Tough love for Love! He already lost the 2013 Mokeski to David Lee; now he’s bungee-jumping 16 picks from last year’s lofty no. 4 spot to this year’s semi-insulting no. 20 position, which normally wouldn’t happen to a 24-year-old franchise star unless he was arrested with two underage girls and three and a half pounds of molly. Just know that he didn’t drop 16 spots because of that twice-broken hand. If we’re measuring players by trade value, we’re really measuring them by the probability that they’d ever be traded. And Kevin Love WILL be traded. It’s inevitable. It might happen this summer, it might happen during next season, but it’s going to happen.

And here’s why: Before the 2011-12 season started, Minnesota could have locked Love up to a five-year max extension that he wanted to sign. Incredibly, the T-Wolves decided it would be dumb to lock up a 23-year-old franchise guy for as long as humanly possible; they wanted to save that “max” extension slot for Ricky Rubio. Love signed a lucrative four-year extension with a player option for Year 4 (after 2014-15) that may as well be called “Kevin Love’s Get Out of Jail Free Card.” He’s been bitter ever since. You would be too.

What should you do if you’re Minnesota? If you’re smart, you’d build around Rubio (about to get an extension), Pekovic (about to get paid) and whatever you can get for Kevin Love. The blueprint: In February 2011, the Jazz shrewdly dealt Deron Williams 17 months before he could bolt Utah for a high lottery pick (Derrick Favors) and a future lottery pick (that became no. 3 overall: Enes Kanter), maximizing any and all leverage they had. I don’t see how the T-Wolves make it through this summer without doing the same. The likeliest suitor? Chicago. The Bulls have big contracts to make the trade work (Luol Deng on the enticing side, Carlos Boozer on the less enticing side); they’re loaded with assets like Jimmy Butler (no. 49 on this year’s list), the rights to Mirotic (a high lottery pick if he entered this year’s draft), and the rights to Charlotte’s future no. 1 pick (top-10 protected in 2014, top-eight protected in 2015, unprotected in 2016); and they’re a big-market contender with a superstar in house (so they could keep Love for the long haul).

Let’s say Chicago calls Minnesota in June and offers them Boozer’s contract with Butler, Mirotic AND the Charlotte pick. How could the T-Wolves turn that down? And if you’re the Bulls, how would you turn down the chance to (a) dump Boozer’s deal, and (b) upend a potential Miami dynasty with a nucleus of Rose, Noah, Love, Deng, Taj Gibson and Tom Thibodeau these next few years? You know, unless your owner was too cheap to make a real run at the Heat? (Cut to every Chicago fan grimacing.) Anyway, I’m dropping Love to 20 only because that Bulls trade made too much damned sense. It just did.

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Tags: Bill Simmons Grantland Kevin Love Minnesota Timberwolves Off Season Trade Value

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