This is Part Fifteen 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 Timberwolves and the Memphis Grizzlies did an almost-trade dance for quite some time prior to the trade deadline, with potential deals involving J.J. Barea, Chase Budinger, Tony Allen, and Tayshaun Prince.
Any trade involving Kevin Love would be a bit more complicated, and would carry considerable risk for both clubs. Marc Gasol is Memphis’ best player, but he also plays the same position as Nikola Pekovic and his hefty contract. Mike Conley is a star point guard, but the Wolves are married to Ricky Rubio, for better or for worse.
So let’s look at the natural, one-for-one swap: Zach Randolph. Z-Bo has the same opt-out clause in his contract that Love does, only his is up this summer. Any trade involving Randolph would require him to either opt-in to his contract for his new team, or he would need to agree to a long-term extension.
Memphis has a few pieces that should be of interest to Flip Saunders, but a match would still be fairly tricky, mainly due to the uncertainty with the futures of both power forwards. Here’s what the Wolves should push for, were they to deal with Memphis:
Getting rid of Martin’s contract and replacing his sieve-like excuse for perimeter defense with Tony Allen would be extremely refreshing. Lee’s contract is pretty gross, but he’d be a great fit on the perimeter alongside Chase Budinger as the first two wings off the bench.
Leuer is a stretch power forward with an impressive rebounding rate that played very well in limited minutes last year for the Grizzlies. He could be the backup power forward behind Randolph on the new-look Wolves, or could settle into a fifth big man/developmental role depending on how next Thursday’s draft shakes out.
Memphis would have to convince Love to re-sign, but a Love-Gasol front line with Mike Conley running the point would absolutely fight for home court advantage in the Western Conference in 2014-15.
If the Grizzlies chose to take this gamble, the Wolves could come out of it with some decent pieces. While a return such as this would technically be short-sided for Saunders to accept, it would also ensure that next year’s edition of the Wolves would be somewhere north of the 40-win mark again with a legitimate shot at squeaking into the postseason.
There is almost certainly still at least one “mystery team” out there. Could it be the Grizzlies? Stay tuned…