This is Part Six 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 Cleveland Cavaliers are one of the more frustrating potential trade partners for the Timberwolves when it comes to attempting to receive something nearing fair value for Kevin Love.
Yes, the Cavs again hold the #1 overall pick. But beyond that, the ‘assets’ held by Cleveland are sparse. Last year’s #1 overall selection, Anthony Bennett, has thus far been a pretty underwhelming NBA player, even after being a reach as the first pick last June. Kyrie Irving won’t be traded, and especially not if the Cavs think they can get Love to re-sign in Cleveland during the summer of 2015. Anderson Varejao only has one year left on his contract, plus a trade kicker that escalates his salary if he’s moved. Jarrett Jack is on a disgusting contract.
Does any of that interest the Wolves? The #1 overall pick certainly does, although it’s terrifying to think what Flip Saunders might deem necessary to do with that kind of power.
Tristan Thompson is a nice third or fourth big man, but he’s not really a perfect fit next to Nikola Pekovic. Not only that, he’s a free agent after next season and will likely be overpaid on the open market. Dion Waiters certainly has shown flashes of promise, but his overall lack of efficiency and the fact that he’s allergic to rebounding should lead to some significant pause. He’s the type of player that you’d take a flyer on, but certainly not as the first or second-most important piece of the trade package.
Zeller is an interesting player. He was played well after having his minutes cut from more than 26 per game as a rookie to 15 per game last season. Then again, he’s another center. And probably a good backup center moving forward and not much more. Turns out, the Wolves have three good centers.
Karasev is an interesting player as a final piece to any deal with Cleveland. Minnesota allegedly liked him a bit in last year’s draft, which makes a ton of sense since the one and only thing that he does at an All-NBA level is shoot three-pointers. There were plenty of other concerns, primarily with his defense, but nobody has ever doubted his ability to shoot. He only played in 22 NBA games as a rookie, shooting just 4 of 19 from long range in just 156 total minutes of play.
In the D-League, however, Karasev shot three-pointers at a 41.6% clip over 18 games. And it would be music to Ricky Rubio‘s ears to see a sharpshooter like Karasev standing on the perimeter instead of Corey Brewer.
Let’s give this a shot. Of the rumored teams that have been most aggressive in trying to deal for Love that seem to have a realistic stable of assets, well, the #1 pick trumps quite a few of them.
Minnesota receives: Dion Waiters, Tristan Thompson, Sergey Karasev, Matthew Dellavedova, #1 overall pick, future first round pick
Cleveland receives: Kevin Love
The Wolves would surely love to ship out Alexey Shved‘s $3.15 million or J.J. Barea’s $4.69 million, but a third team would likely need to be involved, unless the Cavs also gave back Bennett. Dellavedova was added to the deal simply to make the salaries work, and he would only make the squad in Minnesota as a third point guard.
Cleveland would be rolling the dice in a big way, both by trading the #1 overall pick and by trading for a superstar that will bolt if the team somehow fails to make the playoffs in a weak Eastern Conference.
The #1 pick holds appeal to me for one reason and one reason alone: Joel Embiid. Unfortunately, the Wolves almost certainly don’t feel the same way. I fear as though Andrew Wiggins would be the pick, and this trade would ultimately not quite bring back what Saunders is looking for. If I knew for certain that Embiid would be the pick, I’d make this trade in a heartbeat, provided that the Bulls don’t have this trade on the table.
The Cavs are a legitimate contender to acquire Love. Let’s just hope that Saunders is able to land all of the aforementioned assets, and that the return is headlined by the #1 pick. If the Cavs think they can avoid moving the pick, Saunders shouldn’t even give Cleveland the time of day.