NBA Free Agency 2012: Will Russell Westbrook and Kevin Love Rejoin Forces?
Much like the 2010 NBA free-agency class, this year’s crop is one of the most talked-about and brings much curiosity as to what will happen.
There is a strong certainty that a lot of All-Stars will be taking their talents to other cities. Thus, current “super teams” will add their missing piece, while other super teams will be born.
Lost among the numerous possibilities of signings is the potential of Russell Westbrook and Kevin Love leaving their current teams to form a power duo as they did as teammates at UCLA.
The issue is there is a limited amount of teams that can offer both a max deal and and a limited number of teams that both players would want to play for.
With that said, here are five scenarios speculating where Westbrook and Love could land.
Los Angeles Lakers
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As previously stated, Russell Westbrook and Kevin Love were once teammates on a UCLA team that went to the NCAA Final Four. As an added bonus, both were born in California. So why not return to the Golden State?
Of course, the Los Angeles Lakers' main free-agent target is Dwight Howard. If so, the chances of them getting Westbrook and Love will be nonexistent. However, what if Howard signs elsewhere? In that case, they should strongly consider signing the duo.
Westbrook may not possess the leadership quality that Derek Fisher has, but he does give the Lakers tremendous talent, youth and longevity at the point guard position. Let’s face it, Fisher will be looking to retire soon and Steve Blake is more suitable as a backup than a starter.
Love, on the other hand, would allow the Lakers to rid themselves of Pau Gasol and/or Andrew Bynum. Although he doesn’t possess the skill set of Howard, Love’s signing would still be considered a steal. Plus, like Westbrook, his age is another benefit.
It may make Lakers fans sad to think about it, but Kobe Bryant won’t be around forever. Westbrook and Love can become the co-faces of the franchise once he retires. The duo can also help Kobe and the Lakers add more NBA Championships.
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The Nets currently have loads of potential with Deron Williams leading the way. However, it seems if the Nets don’t land another All-Star-caliber talent (i.e. Dwight Howard), Williams is as good as gone.
If that happens, Russell Westbrook and Kevin Love can step in as the new faces of the franchise. Nets owner Mikhail Prokhorov has the money to give both stars a max deal, which is why this scenario has the strongest chance of happening.
Considering the way rookie Marshon Brooks is playing thus far, a starting lineup of Brooks, Russell Westbrook, Kevin Love, Brook Lopez and Damion James sounds pretty darn good. Plus, three Brooks on the same team makes for a wide variety of marketing opportunities.
Oklahoma City Thunder
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With Ricky Rubio settled in as the point guard of the future in Minnesota, Russell Westbrook signing there won’t happen. What if, however, Westbrook somehow remained with the Thunder and convinced Sam Presti to work out a sign-and-trade for Kevin Love?
A trade of this magnitude will require the Thunder to give up some of their key players. The team has such a solid core that breaking it up will seem like a huge mistake on Presti’s part. However, the thought of Westbrook, Kevin Durant and Love on the same team is scary. Problems between Westbrook and Durant may also die down.
The question is who do you include in this trade? Cole Aldrich comes to mind because he is from Minnesota and probably wouldn’t mind playing for his home state. While the Timberwolves won’t hesitate to add him to their roster, they will ask for bigger-name players like James Harden, Kendrick Perkins or Serge Ibaka.
Love signs with one team, while Westbrook signs with another
Let’s face it, if the right trade came about the Oklahoma City Thunder wouldn’t hesitate to get rid of Russell Westbrook, and the Minnesota Timberwolves are far being a playoff contender. So both players will be listening to every offer thrown their way during the off season.
Westbrook wants to be on a team that will allow him to bask in the spotlight, while Love’s biggest desire may be simply playing for a winning team and not sitting at home during the playoffs.
There is no question the friends will search for an opportunity to play together again, but limited teams have the ability to sign both unless they are willing accept a pay cut. In addition, one team may need a point guard and aren’t in need of a power forward. Another team may need a power forward and not a point guard. One team may like Love, while having a dislike for Westbrook. The what-ifs are endless.
So if the right deal doesn’t present itself, Westbrook and Love may sign with and suit up for different teams.
Westbrook and Love Re-Sign with Their Current Teams
Although it seems unlikely, Russell Westbrook and Kevin Love could stay put. The future of Westbrook in Oklahoma City is uncertain. He may re-sign for a short deal and test free agency later. The Thunder may also re-sign and then trade Westbrook later in the season.
Love is the face of the Timberwolves. However, Ricky Rubio is on the rise. They also drafted Derrick Williams who also plays the power forward position. Yet Love is too valuable to lose. He provides a huge boost in helping the Timberwolves win games.
Problem is, they lose more often than they win. Love may have already grown tired of that and might see no change in the team’s fortune in the near future.
What Love could do is wait to see if Timberwolves make any major moves during the offseason. Then you remember David Kahn is their general manager, and hope goes out the window.