It’s understandable that the Timberwolves are reluctant to trade All-Star power forward Kevin Love. He’s only 25 years old and averaged 26 points and nearly 13 rebounds per game, making him the NBA’s third leading scorer and fourth leading rebounder. Love gets killed by the media for having never made the playoffs, but he’s never had a teammate who made the All-Star game. Not even once. Right now, with one year left on Love’s deal–thanks to David Kahn, who decided three years ago to save Minnesota’s max deal for Ricky Rubio–the Timberwolves don’t have much leverage. If the Wolves hold onto Love, he will surely leave the team in free agency in the summer. The only thing Minnesota can really do is try to drive up Love’s price, pitting the Cavaliers and Warriors, who are firm in their refusal to part ways with Klay Thompson, against each other and creating a bidding war.
Even though David Kahn isn’t the Wolves’ GM anymore, it’s still hard to see them making the right decision here. Rumor is that they’re more interested in Thompson than Wiggins because they view Thompson as more ready to help them now. It might just be a rumor, but if it’s true, the Warriors are thinking about this all wrong. They aren’t winning now, period. And they sure aren’t winning with Klay Thompson as their best player. The T’Wolves need to realize that they are not going to win now, but they can still set themselves up very nicely for the future.
It’s obviously not ideal to have to trade Love, one of the league’s best players. But better to get last month’s top overall pick than lose Love and get nothing in return. Imagine this: Ricky Rubio tossing alley-oops to Andrew Wiggins and Zach LaVine. Imagine the athleticism on the wings. I know LaVine is technically a point guard, and that those wings need to become better shooters, but Wiggins and LaVine are two of the league’s best leapers. The T’Wolves have been looking for real wing players for several years now, and Wiggins could finally be the answer. The team would have obvious growing pains, but at least the future would be tantalizing. Could Wiggins and LaVine be busts? Sure. But they have two of the highest ceilings of anyone in last month’s draft.
In all likelihood, LaVine would end up running the point in the future with Wiggins on the wing. Especially if Rubio stays pat with his desire for a max deal, which more than a little ridiculous. Minnesota almost certainly won’t have Love on its roster at the beginning of the 2016 season, but when they start over, they should do so building around someone with sky-high potential like Wiggins, not an an above-average-but-not-great player like Klay Thompson. On the right team, Thompson is a great asset. But by himself, it’s not hard to envision Thompson’s efficiency plummeting as a chucker.
If the Wolves decided to keep Love, they would probably only be a first round playoff team in the West. They underachieved last season, and could be much improved next year, but the West is too loaded for them to make any real noise as currently constructed. Starting over, and building around Wiggins and LaVine wouldn’t be the worst thing in the world.