5 NBA Teams That Should Go All-in for Potential Kevin Love Trade

Adam Fromal@fromal09National NBA Featured ColumnistFebruary 19, 2014

5 NBA Teams That Should Go All-in for Potential Kevin Love Trade

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    Kevin Love may not actually be on the trade block, but the possibility of the dominant power forward being moved by the Minnesota Timberwolves has been brought up. 

    There's no turning back now. 

    CBS Sports' Ken Berger reported the following about a potential move: 

    The Lakers and Mavericks are trying to assemble trade offers for prospective free agent Kevin Love, but thus far the Timberwolves have given no indication they'll consider moving the All-Star forward by Thursday's deadline, league sources told CBSSports.com.

    Of course, he also admitted that a source told him Minnesota president Flip Saunders has said there's "no way" Love is moved. 

    It's highly unlikely that the power forward gets traded before the Feb. 20 deadline, especially because the 'Wolves still hope he won't opt out of his contract at the end of the 2014-15 season and will instead continue playing for the franchise that has always rostered him.

    While B/R's Dan Favale makes a convincing argument that the 'Wolves should bite the bullet and swing a deal, it's still not going to happen until this offseason or the ensuing campaign. Until Saunders gets a clear indication that Love wants out, not just an anonymous rumor, he won't pull the trigger. 

    However, that won't stop other teams from making pitches. The door has been opened, after all, and it won't be slammed shut until 3 p.m. ET on Feb. 20. 

    It's hard to believe that any team in the Association would say no to acquiring Love for pennies on the dollar, but there are only a few teams in position to go all-in for his services before the trade deadline comes and goes. 

Dallas Mavericks

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    The Dallas Mavericks may have been one of the two original teams that was reported to have interest in acquiring Love, but that doesn't mean they have the assets to actually make such a deal happen. 

    In all likelihood, a deal for one of the league's premier power forwards would revolve around sending Shawn Marion and Brandan Wright to the Timberwolves, then figuring out how in the world to sweeten the trade. A limited big man and an aging/declining veteran obviously aren't going to be enough to make Saunders part ways with Love. 

    So, that means draft picks and high-upside players need to enter the equation. 

    Shane Larkin fits into the latter category, and the Mavericks can give up first-round draft picks in 2016 and 2018, both of which have a chance to be quite valuable since there's little to no possibility Dirk Nowitzki is still playing at a ridiculously high level that far into the future. 

    While it's unlikely that deal is strong enough to sway Minnesota, it's still a solid haul, and it's one the Mavericks wouldn't even hesitate to offer up. 

    The potential of building around Love and Dirk is astounding, especially with Monta Ellis still holding down the fort in the backcourt. Even if you're troubled by the lack of a true center and the defensive porosity, the combined shooting skill of the two 4s is just ridiculous. 

    According to Eddie Sefko of the Dallas Morning NewsMavs owner Mark Cuban isn't buying into these rumors, though: 

    Mark Cuban has heard so many preposterous trade rumors that he laughs at a lot of them.

    The Kevin Love-to-Dallas speculation fell into that category.

    “I know what we’re talking about and not talking about,” Cuban said before Tuesday’s game against Miami. “We take pride in the fact that you never read about our deals before they happen. So if you read about them, you know what that means.”

    Preposterous? Maybe. Leaked as leverage by another team? Maybe. 

    But regardless of whether Dallas is already discussing a Love deal or not, they'd be crazy not to try pairing him with Nowitzki if the limited package is enough to get Minnesota biting. 

Golden State Warriors

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    If only the Golden State Warriors hadn't already traded away all of their first-round draft picks during the 2013 offseason...

    Maintaining possession of just a few picks might've allowed the Dubs to become serious players in the Love sweepstakes, but now they're limited to building a package with a pick so far off in the future that its value is dramatically lowered. 

    Yes, we're talking about the 2019 first-round pick, which is the earliest top-30 selection Golden State has in its reserves as a trading chip. That's definitely on the move in a Love deal, as are David Lee and Harrison Barnes. 

    While the former would serve as a replacement for the Timberwolves, the latter would be a high-potential upgrade at small forward, giving them some chance of continuing their quest for the playoffs in both the near and distant future. 

    Golden State, meanwhile, would pick up both Love and Alexey Shved, who would help provide a little more depth in a backcourt that sorely needs it. But this is still all about Love. 

    Just think of the starting lineup the Warriors could boast after this type of acquisition. 

    Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson, Andre Iguodala, Kevin Love and Andrew Bogut? 

    Yes, please. 

    Where is the weakness there? The outside shooting is just ridiculous, and teams wouldn't be able to pay an inordinate amount of defensive attention to either of the top-10 weapons at Golden State's disposal. And it's not like Love's defense is much worse than Lee's, which allows the Dubs to continue shutting down the opposition with frequency. 

    If Golden State could pull this off, it would no longer have to worry about making the playoffs in the difficult Western Conference. Championship dreams would be allowed. 

Los Angeles Lakers

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    I fail to see how the Los Angeles Lakers are going to pull this off, because trading for Kevin Love is nearly impossible to do successfully. 

    Without many promising young players at their disposal, the Lakers are left basing this deal around Pau Gasol. And that means that general manager Mitch Kupchak must find a way to send his 2014 first-round pick to Minnesota, which isn't allowed right now thanks to the limits of the Stepien Rule. To change that, the Lakers have to acquire another first-round pick this season. 

    So, how are they going to do that? 

    Nearly everyone of value would need to be sent to an organization with a pick in the tail end of the first round, then the Lake Show would have to part ways with most every second-round pick at its disposal. Nick Young and Ryan Kelly would certainly be gone, as would anyone else the contending team thinks has any value. 

    Essentially, the Lakers would need to trade almost their entire roster for Love.

    Kupchak would have to be a genius to make this happen. I'm not even going to bother suggesting a hypothetical move, because all of them would need to be so far off the wall that you'd just laugh. 

    If the Lakers can pull this off, though, it's still worth it.

    Acquiring Love would allow the Purple and Gold to go after a big target in free agency this summer and throw out a three-headed monster in 2014-15 that prominently features both the power forward and Kobe Bryant

    Yes, the Lakers seem likely to land Love in free agency once he opts out of his contract and hits the open market at the conclusion of the 2014-15 campaign. But that's not good enough.

    The Mamba's contract extension only runs through the 2015-16 season, so the Lakers would be giving Kobe just one more chance to win another title. Trading for Love right now allows 2014-15 to enter the equation, gives the team an outside chance at making the playoffs this year (still highly unlikely) and increases the chemistry for Kobe's final season. 

    Surely that's worth going all-in. 

Philadelphia 76ers

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    Can you imagine building around a three-man core of Michael Carter-Williams, Kevin Love and Nerlens Noel? 

    The Philadelphia 76ers should be able to, and they should act accordingly. 

    Even though the Sixers aren't particularly competitive this year and are sinking back down toward the bottom of the putrid Eastern Conference, they still have a promising future. Multiple building blocks and a boatload of draft picks ensure that.

    Even without a trade for a superstar, the Sixers look like they're in position to make a serious run at a postseason berth in 2014-15. This would only help, because they can turn future assets into a player better than anyone they hope to land in the near future. 

    While Andrew Wiggins, Jabari Parker, Dante Exum and the rest of the top prospects in the stacked draft class have plenty of promise, Love is already a guaranteed superstar. He's the type of player a rebuilding team has to acquire if it has the opportunity. 

    The frontcourt pairing of Love and Noel would be a perfect blend of offense and defense, and MCW is still looking like a future star at point guard, so long as he can fix his broken jumper. 

    Fortunately for Philly, it can put together a package that few teams can match. After all, general manager Sam Hinkie should have two first-round picks in the 2014 draft at his disposal—his own and a top-five-protected selection from the New Orleans Pelicans. 

    They're both valuable in a deal with the 'Wolves.

    But Hinkie could also include the expiring contracts of Spencer Hawes and Evan Turner, as well as high-upside guard Tony Wroten. 

    Few teams can beat that haul, and it's one Philadelphia can produce without even breaking up its core or parting ways with Thaddeus Young. 

Phoenix Suns

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    The Phoenix Suns might as well employ Don Corleone, because they're the one team uniquely capable of offering the Timberwolves a deal that Flip Saunders can't refuse. 

    Not only does Phoenix have the ability to send Minnesota Archie Goodwin, a player filled with upside, but it can also deal Emeka Okafor, who has a massive expiring contract. On top of that, general manager Ryan McDonough has quite a few draft picks at his disposal: 

    1. His own first-round pick in 2014.
    2. 2014 first-round pick from the Minnesota Timberwolves, protected for the top 13 selections.
    3. 2014 first-round pick from the Washington Wizards, protected for the top 12 selections.
    4. 2014 first-round pick from the Indiana Pacers, lottery protected. 
    5. His own first-round pick in 2015. 
    6. 2015 first-round pick from the Los Angeles Lakers, protected for the top 5 selections. 

    Let the Timberwolves pick and choose from those picks. All of them should be made available, even if Saunders insists on stealing away the three most-favorable selections from the 2014 crop. 

    After all, it's worth giving up nearly everything except the current core to land Love. 

    Phoenix desperately needs a power forward who can bang around in the post. And while the Minnesota big man's primary skill involves him stepping out to the perimeter and knocking down jumpers, he's both a competent player with his back to the basket and a tremendous asset on the glass. 

    Earlier in the season, McDonough told NBA.com's Scott Howard-Cooper: 

    I think one of the things that’s important for people to realize is that we may not draft four players even if we have four picks. Our preference would probably be to maybe package a few of them. We’re obviously all looking for stars and we feel like we can put together a package as good, if not better, than any other team in the league if and when a star becomes available. That’s kind of generally what we’ve wanted to do, not only with our draft-pick situation but also with the cap space that we’ve acquired. 

    I think Love counts as a star. 

    Should the Suns retain Eric Bledsoe, who's a restricted free agent at the end of the 2013-14 campaign, then pair him with Goran Dragic, Love and Miles Plumlee, no one will want to pay a visit to the desert.