This is Part Four in a 29-part series that will tour every team in the league with the purpose of exploring any and all trade combinations that would involve Kevin Love being shipped out of Minnesota. Trades are meant to be realistic regarding Love’s trade value and may include three-team trade possibilities. All 29 teams will be examined prior to the June 28 NBA Draft.
The Charlotte Hornets are an organization that has never really been mentioned as a landing spot for Kevin Love. This is, of course, due to the unlikelihood that he would agree to sign a contract extension with an organization that has generally struggled to get into postseason play, although they squeaked into the seventh seed this year and were awarded with a sweep at the hands of the Miami Heat. After all, that’s why he allegedly wants out of Minnesota.
But let’s play this out. Technically, it doesn’t matter where Love wants to be traded. Word has it that the Sacramento Kings are interested in dealing for the superstar power forward even without a commitment to an extension, so all it would take is similar sentiment from Charlotte. While the Kings’ “stable” of “assets” aren’t exactly appealing, the Hornets, on the other hand, could put together an intriguing package of players and picks. Let’s take a look.
Prior to last year’s draft, the Wolves’ brass was rumored to be in love with Indiana’s Cody Zeller, whom Charlotte selected with the fourth overall pick. Sure, Minnesota has three (good) centers under contract in Nikola Pekovic, Gorgui Dieng, and Ronny Turiaf, but the Wolves would certainly still ask for the seven-footer. Any of the four could always be traded away in a separate deal, but Zeller would have to come back as part of any Kevin Love trade.
So it starts with Zeller. The Wolves are still searching for suitable wing players, and former second overall pick Michael Kidd-Gilchrist would be on Minnesota’s wish list, too. Of the rest of the players on the Hornet’s current roster, guard Gary Neal would be the only player that Saunders would ask to be thrown in. Brendan Haywood and Bismack Biyombo are both centers, Gerald Henderson is vastly overpaid, and Kemba Walker won’t be a fit, especially not with Zeller and Kidd-Gilcrhist already in the deal.
Charlotte also owns Detroit’s #9 overall pick in the upcoming draft, along with the Blazers’ pick at #24, and their own picks in upcoming seasons. They have plenty of assets, and in acquiring Love and holding onto Walker and Biyombo, they’d have an intriguing young roster moving forward, especially if Michael Jordan and Co. can coax Love into signing on long-term.
Minnesota receives: Cody Zeller, Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, Gary Neal, #9 draft pick, 2015 first-rounder
Charlotte receives: Kevin Love, Ronny Turiaf
The Wolves could also throw in J.J. Barea or Corey Brewer and take back more salary if need be, but this is fairly balanced. The Wolves get more potential and production at the center position, a decent wing that’s still only 21 years old, and a decent combo guard on an expiring contract in Neal.
It’s tough to trade Turiaf, but he’d be moved before either Pekovic or Dieng, and the Wolves wouldn’t be able to keep all four centers. More moves would have to be made to both thin out and balance the roster, especially if two more first-rounders are drafted at #9 and #13.
So far, after going through four teams, this is the best trade we’ve found from Minnesota’s perspective. Now hopefully Love has a burning desire to play in Charlotte…