I like Bill Simmons. Maybe more than I should, given his strangely inconsistent basketball takes and sometimes exhausting shtick.
But for the most part, he knows his basketball. And he does a good job of connecting with the Every Fan, and there’s something to be said for that.
One of the most tiring aspects of his NBA takes, of course, is his incessant belief that nobody wants to play in small markets, and especially, the cold of Minnesota.
I’m not going to pretend as though market size and weather isn’t a legitimate thing, because it is. But far, far too much weight is placed on this phenomenon than is reasonable. Take Oklahoma City, for example. It’s a tiny market, it isn’t glamorous, and it sure ain’t tropical. I know, because I live here. The low this coming Sunday is 8 degrees. In March.
But you never hear about people not wanting to stay/come to OKC. Despite what the mainstream folks might believe, Kevin Love is not far removed from the performance and stature of a Kevin Durant. In fact, many reasonably relevant statistics show that Love is a top-four player in the league.
And let’s be real. Miami isn’t a big market. Chicago isn’t warm. And not many people would rather live in Milwaukee or Detroit than Minneapolis. Anyways, the certainty in Love leaving the Twin Cities is already so tired and factually ridiculous. A lot can happen in 16 months.
As always with Simmons, his column is 10978798 words long (the Love section is somewhere north of 1000 words alone). Please follow the link to Simmons’ mailbag and read the second and third reader questions and answers…
Welcome back. Kudos to Simmons for at least mentioning the allegedly minuscule chance that Love will decide to stay if the 2014-15 Wolves are good, a la LaMarcus Aldridge. But he moves on from that pretty quickly, and suggests four different trade scenarios.
Let’s work under the assumption that Love is indeed traded (he won’t be). For whatever reason, Simmons claims he’ll be traded this summer, which is ludicrous, but here we are.
The first option is a swap with Phoenix. Bill’s proposal is Alex Len, three top-12 (at least) protected 2014 picks, and Minnesota’s own first-rounder back. There literally couldn’t be a worse idea.
Why would the Wolves want a) Alex Len, who isn’t going to be good and oh by the way, there’s something called Nikola Pekovic that the Wolves have heavily invested in, or b) a slew of mid-to-late first round guaranteed contracts and young players. The Suns could really only build a package around Goran Dragic, Eric Bledsoe, or Alex Len, and the Wolves already have both Rubio and Pekovic. And hopefully, they have no interest in the rest of Phoenix’s riff-raff.
Next, Simmons concocts a trade with the Lakers. This is almost more far-fetched, given that the Lakers have negative assets. Even Simmons couldn’t come up with a terrible trade straight-up between the two teams, and he had to drag Memphis into the mix.
The proposal is a sign-and-trade that lands Pau Gasol with his brother in Memphis, Zach Randolph and his 2015 expiring contract in Minnesota along with 2014 and 2017 unprotected first round picks from the Lakers, and Love going to Los Angeles. There are many issues with this, but from the Wolves perspective: sure, Randolph is expiring. But at that point, wouldn’t they want to tank? And replacing Love with Z-Bo will only make Minnesota mediocre, not terrible.
Imagine Randolph and Pekovic next to each other. Not exactly a synergistic fit, is it? So the team would tread water and not be bad enough to enjoy a nice draft slot but also not good enough to have a realistic shot at the playoffs. Oh, and the Lakers can’t trade their 2014 pick due to the Stepian Rule. So, so stupid that this was even part of a real, live NBA article.
Third, The Sports Guy throws out the idea of a Bulls trade. Now we’re at least in the realm of semi-realistic possibilities. Simmons thinks the Wolves could get Taj Gibson, the rights to Nikola Mirotic, and both Charlotte and Chicago’s 2014 first round picks.
This is easily the best trade idea that we’ve touched on thus far. I’ve long said that Chicago is one of the few decent trade partners were Lovepocolypse ever come upon us. Mirotic is a legitimate potential star (don’t worry, the Wolves actually briefly held his draft rights on draft night in 2011). The picks are a little problematic because as it stands, they’ll both be in the late teens. Not a ton of value, even though it’s an extremely deep talent pool.
Gibson is a very nice piece, and would immediately be on of the two best wings on the Wolves roster, along with Kevin Martin. The contract is kind of gross (3 more years with $25+ million owed), but at least he’s good at basketball.
Simmons’ reasoning for this not happening is the un-sexiness of the deal for Minnesota. Which is fair, but Mirotic is truly an exciting piece. This is a much, much preferred deal in my mind than anything that he’s suggested to this point.
Lastly, Simmons goes back to his roots in a proposed deal with the Celtics. Of course. You knew it was coming, right? If you’re familiar with Bill, you know that his obsession with the Celts runs deep. And here we are.
Simmons’ suggestion is essentially some combination of first-round picks, plus the immediately waivable contracts of Brandon Bass and Keith Bogans. The Celtics indeed have a ton of picks, potentially ten in the next five years, but there honestly isn’t much here. Picks on top of picks on top of picks are exhausting and generally overrated.
The play here for Boston is getting both Love and Rondo to stay, creating an in-their-prime version of the Garnett-Pierce-Allen triumvirate that landed Boston their most recent NBA title. But how realistic is it? Definitely not as realistic as Bill Simmons paints it, that’s for sure.
What other options are out there?
Again, I’d like to be on record as saying that I don’t think Love is traded. At the moment, I’d say it’s 55-45 that he walks in the summer of 2015, and a sign-and-trade certainly isn’t out of the question. But I think Flip Saunders is just stubborn enough to believe that he can convince Love to re-sign, and I’m not putting it past him.
If they were to move him, however, there are other, more realistic and appealing options. What about Houston, which is desperate to add a third star to Harden and Howard, and maybe isn’t convinced that Chandler Parsons is that piece, despite allegedly refusing to move him in a Rajon Rondo trade at this year’s deadline.
They still have a variety of young assets, from Donatas Motiejunas to Terrence Jones to some remaining draft picks. The Wolves would have to take back Jeremy Lin, most likely, but he’d be a nice backup to Rubio, even at his current price. I’m not saying there’s definitely a match here, but it’s more likely than Phoenix, Los Angeles, or Boston.
A team like Orlando will certainly make a play. The Wolves would need Oladipo back, and no doubt that would be general manager Rob Hennigan’s hold-up in completing a deal. But it’s no secret that the Magic are stock-piling young assets, just like Houston did before landing their superstar duo.
Another option is Philadelphia. The only players on their roster that will likely stick are Michael Carter-Williams and Nerlens Noel. So anything else can move, like Thaddeus Young, Arnett Moultrie, and more.
In other words, Bill Simmons needs to chillax. He followed his Love discussion with a comment about formerly thinking Rubio was going to be good, insinuating that he currently isn’t good.
And that’s when I was about done reading Simmons for the day.