This is Part Eighteen 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 New Orleans Pelicans are coming off of a couple of terrible off-seasons in which they’ve capped themselves out completely and failed to add a legitimate supporting cast around budding superstar Anthony Davis.
Tyreke Evans was handed a four-year, $44 million contract despite not being a good basketball player. Jrue Holiday, a first-time All-Star in 2012-13, is one year into a four-year deal of his own, worth $34 million. Ryan Anderson is owed just shy of $17 million over the next two seasons.
At least Holiday and Anderson are decent players, but they are not worth what they’re being paid. And throw in Eric Gordon‘s maximum contract that will run through 2015-16, and the Pelican’s have a whole starting lineup’s worth of high-priced, average-to-below-average players.
Which, of course, makes it nearly impossible to find a suitable return for the Wolves in a Kevin Love trade. In fact, the Pelicans only have the above listed players, Austin Rivers, and Alexis Ajinca under guaranteed contracts for next year.
For the record, New Orleans is a pretty terrible prospective destination for Love. The following trade is absolutely not appetizing from a basketball perspective, but again, it’s the best possible trade that could be concocted if it were mandated that Minnesota and New Orleans had to do business.
Minnesota receives: Ryan Anderson, Jrue Holiday, 2016 first round pick
New Orleans receives: Kevin Love, J.J. Barea
Anderson is the overpaid Pelican on the most tolerable of the bad contracts, and he would immediately fill Love’s slot on the Wolves’ roster. Holiday is an overrated player himself, as his only above-average season was actually the one prior to his All-Star campaign in Philadelphia. He would be able to play alongside Ricky Rubio in a two-guard offense, and Barea would head to New Orleans to keep the Wolves’ roster balanced.
The Pelicans would also need to send at least one draft pick to Minnesota in the deal. Love would be unlikely to resign in NOLA, although he would create an amazing duo with Anthony Davis. New Orleans would have to do a great deal in free agency to supplement their nearly-empty roster, but they’d have a heck of a start with Davis and Love.
This is one of the least likely destinations for Love, but it would fit Flip Saunders’ “win-now” criteria that he’s attempting to adhere to, however unlikely and reckless that might be. If the Pelicans were to be the partner that the Wolves ultimately choose to dance with, this is how it would go down.