The NBA playoffs will begin this weekend, which means 14 teams will begin their offseason early, and those squads are wasting no time in preparing for another vigorous period of trade talk.
General managers will have to contain their eagerness until the trading window opens again, but they'll still want to think ahead so they're prepared to make a major offseason splash.
Dusting off the trade-rumor mill, some early whispers point to two postseason outcasts gearing up for some summer dealing. One of them must find a way to satisfy their star before he departs, while the other has never been the same after their franchise player skipped town years ago.
Here's the early scoop on a few offseason trade rumors.
Wolves Hunting for More Talent
The Minnesota Timberwolves have one more season to persuade Kevin Love to stay. In order for that mission to succeed, they'll need to build a playoff squad for the 2014-15 season.
A win over the lottery-bound Utah Jazz on Wednesday night would salvage a .500 season, but that still will not be enough to welcome the star power forward into his first postseason appearance.
Few players mean more to their respective team than Love, mostly because the Wolves have little else surrounding him. According to 82games.com, Love leads the league with a plus-18.8 net rating, which combines his plus-minus rating against the team's production when he is off the floor.
The team is aware of their lack of depth and will search for remedies this offseason, according to the St. Paul Pioneer Press' Charley Walters, but owner Glen Taylor is not willing to break the bank:
Before decrying his stinginess, consider that the Wolves hold a plus-2.8 point differential this year, which ranks 10th in the NBA. Basketball-Reference gives them a 48-33 Pythagorean record, meaning they've played much better than their record suggests this season.
Minnesota should set its sight on shooters, as Love will draw double teams while the always unselfish Ricky Rubio is looking to set up his teammates. A "three-and-D" wing player would greatly help the cause.
If the front office can find the right complementary pieces, Minnesota should at least give Love a chance to play postseason basketball before he enters free agency.
Cavs Planning on "Major Deal"
Timberwolves plan to trade for help in the off-season, but owner Glen Taylor says it won't be a "big" trade.— Charley Walters (@Charley_Walters) April 12, 2014
Dan Gilbert does not sound like a very patient man.
According to Fox Sports Ohio's Sam Amico, the Cleveland Cavaliers owner is restless after missing the playoffs for the fourth consecutive season since losing LeBron James:
Still, Gilbert is clearly agitated after a disappointing season that will end with the Cavs failing to qualify for the playoffs a fourth straight year. One source said regardless of who is named GM, "they will make a major deal" this summer. Read: The owner is not a fan of the Cavs' roster as currently constructed.
When reading "Cavs" and "major deal," the first thought goes to guard Dion Waiters, whose name frequented trade rumors throughout last offseason before ultimately staying put. And his name may not be floated around this summer either, as Amico also reported that the players have grown to respect the 22-year-old this season:
One source close to the team said the players have a newfound respect for Dion Waiters. The second-year shooting guard was at the center of some drama (real and imagined) earlier this season. But the Cavs are beginning to feel Waiters "is a great teammate," as he's earned respect via "his effort and maturing," the source said.
If Gilbert is truly this agitated after a season that will end with 49 or 50 losses, nobody other than Kyrie Irving should be considered safe. Free agent Luol Deng is likely to sign elsewhere, especially if the Cleveland Plain-Dealer's Terry Pluto is right about Cleveland only planning to make a "rather modest" offer.
Waiters is actually their most tradeable asset, and it wouldn't make sense to sell low on Tyler Zeller or Anthony Bennett after underwhelming rookie seasons (although Zeller at least played well in limited minutes). If they're truly desperate, they can trade their first-round draft pick this year, which currently stands at No. 9 before the lottery.
But desperation leads to decisions that organizations regret later, so Gilbert should take a deep breath and allow his executives to calmly make decisions that are in the team's best interest before doing anything too quickly.