Thanks to his insatiable appetite for winning championships, LeBron James could theoretically send Minnesota’s prodigal son, Kevin Love back to the team that drafted him.
As the two greatest players in the world embraced after a hard-fought, albeit short, NBA Finals there’s no doubt that among the congratulations that LeBron James was doling out to Kevin Durant he was also telling the newly crowned Finals MVP that he would be seeing him again next June.
Vegas oddsmakers agree with that sentiment, after awarding the way-too-early best odds to return to the Finals next season to the Cleveland Cavaliers and Golden State Warriors.
But James isn’t here to merely make it to the Finals and lose each year. He knows that the only way to cement his legacy as one of the greatest players to step on the hardwood is to continue adding Larry O’Brien trophies to his mantle.
With the way the current Cavaliers roster is constructed, adding impactful pieces to the team is nearly impossible. With a maxed out salary cap, adding players that will enable the Cavs to compete with the Warriors in a fourth straight Finals via free agency isn’t feasible. This leaves them with only one other option: make trades.
Enter Kevin Love. Even though he was injured the first time these teams faced each other, he contributed to the Cavs winning the title the second time they played and held his own the third time. Love has always been the scapegoat of Cleveland’s struggles.
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There are already rumors swirling around the NBA about Cleveland wanting to pursue Paul George in the offseason. Assuming that Kyrie Irving isn’t somebody that they are willing to part ways with, Love is the only player that could realistically be used to tempt the Pacers into trading George.
Trading their star forward straight up for Love doesn’t make total sense for the Pacers, who would most likely take a step backward from a team that finished with the seventh seed and was eventually swept by Cleveland in the first round.
But blowing it up altogether and starting from scratch? That scenario could make the most sense for a franchise that isn’t known for attracting other star players to Indianapolis.
This is where the Minnesota Timberwolves could come knocking. Most people associated with the Wolves are in full agreement that what Minnesota needs more than another nineteen-year-old on the roster is a big man who can stretch the floor. What if they were able to do that with the bonus of a player that provides championship experience AND used to don the blue and white colors of the Timberwolves?
First of all, Minnesota would need to make sure Love was onboard. After all, owner Glen Taylor made some questionable comments about Love saying that he wasn’t sure if the All-Star power forward was a “superstar” since superstars were supposed to be able to take their teams to the playoffs. A feat Love never accomplished during his six seasons in Minnesota.
Let’s take a look at a possible trade scenario. The Wolves could send this year’s first round pick, 2019’s first round pick (assuming they make the playoffs next year and Atlanta gets the pick owed to them by Minnesota) and Zach LaVine to Indiana, the Pacers send George to Cleveland, and the Cavs send Love to Minnesota. The Wolves should be able to absorb Love’s full salary with Nikola Pekovic’s contract hopefully coming off the books this offseason.
Would Love embrace a return to the Twin Cities?
The biggest contributing reasons to him forcing a trade to leave three summers ago were because then-general manager David Kahn didn’t offer him the five-year max contract that he rightly deserved.
Also, because the Wolves repeatedly failed to surround Love with any talent on the floor. Now Kahn is no longer there, and Minnesota boasts one of the best young teams in the league. Love was quoted shortly after being traded as saying that he
Love was quoted shortly after being traded as saying that he enjoyed his time in Minnesota. There is certainly no reason to believe this is untrue.
In theory, adding Love immediately thrusts Minnesota into the playoff picture. The Wolves would still have to make additional moves in the offseason, namely replacing the productivity of LaVine if he were to be a part of the trade that brings in Love.
They would also need to shore up their bench, a unit that ranked second to last in points scored per 100 possessions last season.
These are relatively small issues for a team that would be able to add a four-time All-Star to its rotation.
Combined with the rise of Karl-Anthony Towns and Andrew Wiggins, this would give Minnesota a bright future and a playoff presence for a team that hasn’t played a postseason game in thirteen years.