In the aftermath of Yahoo Sports' Adrian Wojnarowski reporting that Kevin Love has let his desire to leave the Minnesota Timberwolves be known, a cluster of interested teams are already plotting an aggressive pursuit, and Houston is among them:
Another contender planning aggressive play for a Kevin Love trade, sources tell Yahoo: Houston. Kevin McHale has strong bond with Love.— Adrian Wojnarowski (@WojYahooNBA) May 18, 2014
League sources told the New York Post's Marc Berman that the Rockets will target free-agent-to-be Carmelo Anthony this summer. Love is an extension of that interest, as another floor-spacing forward who can score and rebound and give the team a third superstar to slide alongside James Harden and Dwight Howard.
Just as any sales pitch to Anthony will include dumping the contracts of Jeremy Lin and Omer Asik, the Rockets' attempt to acquire Love begins there too. The two combine for a cap hit that is somewhere in the ball park of $16.8 million. Any significant addition the Rockets try to make rests on their ability to move both.
Unfortunately for the Rockets, neither is of value to the Timberwolves. They already have a point guard, in Ricky Rubio, and a pair of centers in Nikola Pekovic and Gorgui Dieng. A third, and perhaps fourth, team would have to get involved for the Rockets to have a fighting chance.
Relinquishing Chandler Parsons would also have to be an option. Love may hold all the leverage, but the Timberwolves will want adequate compensation for his departure. If the Rockets don't turn Asik and Lin into a game-changing talent, Parsons cannot be off limits.
Beyond their own limitations, the Rockets have a slew of competitors they must worry about.
According to Wojnarowski and ESPN.com's Marc Stein and Ramona Shelburne, the Los Angeles Lakers, Chicago Bulls, Boston Celtics, Golden State Warriors and Phoenix Suns will each make heavy pushes for the three-time All-Star. All of them can offer better combinations of talent, draft picks and financial relief than the Rockets.
The team to really watch is Golden State. Bleacher Report's Grant Hughes explains why:
The Warriors are a different story, as they've got David Lee's $15 million salary in 2014-15 to match almost perfectly with Love's. And with the ability to toss in Klay Thompson on a rookie-scale contract, it's much easier to see the Dubs pulling off a deal.
And Golden State has been pretty bold in its moves since Joe Lacob bought the team, swapping Monta Ellis for Andrew Bogut two years ago, and signing Andre Iguodala to a big deal this past summer. The Dubs aren't afraid to mix it up in the trade market, and the front office knows the team needs another star.
Which team can make the better offer for Kevin Love?
Any offer consisting of David Lee, their 2019 first-rounder and one to two of Draymond Green, Klay Thompson and Harrison Barnes from the Warriors easily trounces whatever the Rockets can give—including Parsons—as of now.
"We're always aggressive," Rockets general manager Daryl Morey told the Houston Chronicle's Jonathan Feigen. "We'll always explore aggressive scenarios."
Once in a while, gyrating aggression leads you to impractical, pie-in-the-sky, pipe-dreamy pursuits.
For the Rockets, this is one of those times.
*Salary information via ShamSports.