With the number of remaining playoff teams rapidly shrinking, the majority of the NBA has nothing to do except pine for next season and plot out a strategy for surviving and thriving in the postseason. Kevin Love trade talk has dominated relentlessly, but rumors involving Luis Scola as well as the Utah Jazz moving up in the draft have flown under the radar.
Infatuated with Love
Yahoo's Marc J. Spears dropped a rumor bomb on the NBA with his May 26 report about the Sacramento Kings pursuing Love, saying, "The Kings would make a deal without any assurance from Love he'd re-sign with them, a league source told Yahoo Sports."
While the rumor comes from a league source rather than a team source, the report makes a modicum of sense. The Kings have a new owner seeking to give the loyal fanbase something to cheer for, and acquiring Kevin Love would certainly address that, even just as a one-season rental.
However, the Kings do not possess a wealth of attractive assets to bargain over. DeMarcus Cousins remains their best player, but Sacramento would likely hope to double down with a pair of All-Star big men. Involving Cousins in a package for Love would certainly make the offer more alluring, but Minnesota may not want to bother with the contentious Cousins.
The T-Wolves could possibly be persuaded about the trade value of Ben McLemore, the seventh pick in the 2013 draft, though the rookie also shot 37.6 percent from the field and recorded a sorry 7.7 player efficiency rating, via Basketball-Reference.
While the Kings also hold the No. 8 pick for 2014, they would need to discern which player Minnesota covets at that spot and trade the player, not the pick. According to Real GM, the Kings already gave up their 2015 first-round selection to the Chicago Bulls, via the Cleveland Cavaliers.
Essentially, the Kings don't have much in the way of assets that the T-Wolves desire—perhaps they should try gold, frankincense and myrrh—and Love would not transform Sacramento into a playoff team anyway. Moreover, though Love was born in California, the capital city would be the worst landing spot for him in terms of team outlook among the state's four NBA franchises.
Furthermore, Love has consistently downplayed his birthplace as a factor for choosing a team, telling Dave McMenamin of ESPN Los Angeles in March: "You know, my parents live there and they had me there. It's not my fault. So, I don’t really care about that right now."
Minnesota president Flip Saunders will entertain any and all hard offers for Love, who has an opt-out clause looming in 2015, but plenty of suitors will come calling and some will have considerably greater assets to offer than the Kings.
As for the Kings, Charley Walters of the St. Paul Pioneer Press noted, "A report elsewhere that Sacramento has made an offer for Love isn't accurate."
Without an offer, talk about the deal will remain amorphous. Also, Love just wrapped up his sixth season in Minneapolis but has yet to reach a playoff game, proving there is some question about the efficacy of his double-double abilities with a three-point shot to boot.
Utah Eyeing the Draft's Top Mormon
ESPN's Chad Ford included a juicy nugget in his response to a fan question on a possible draft-pick trade between the Cleveland Cavaliers and the Utah Jazz, with the target being Duke's Jabari Parker:
So the Cavs would have to take Jabari at 1 and then hope they could get Hayward to play along. Derrick Favors could also tempt them I'm told. But the Cavs would need another piece—perhaps the 5th pick?
Parker is a Mormon, so the marketing potential if he lands in Salt Lake City with the Jazz would be considerable. He also profiles as an an NBA-ready, high-IQ prospect, making the strategy sound. Utah also holds the No. 23 pick from the Golden State Warriors. A sign-and-trade involving Derrick Favors could also work.
Favors just turned in his best season as a pro and started 73 games, nearly double his career total from the previous three seasons. His increased minutes produced career highs of 13.3 points and 8.7 rebounds per game.
However, the Jazz want to rebuild the team, and Favors takes up a substantial portion of the balance sheet: $48 million over the next four seasons. The Jazz do not have any salary committed to any other player beyond 2015.
With Utah drafting fifth, they could unburden themselves of the salary commitment to Favors while also moving up four spots and taking Parker. Along with last year's draft pick, Trey Burke, that would form a new nucleus, and they could still hang on to Enes Kanter as a young frontcourt player.
Despite missing the playoffs, the Cavs have enough talent to make the next step and contend by adding only a couple of pieces. Trading the No. 1 pick would also spare them the hand-wringing that accompanied drafting the disappointing Anthony Bennett last year.
With the Milwaukee Bucks and Philadelphia 76ers needing to rebuild their entire rosters, trading with Cleveland for No. 1 would be the most prudent scenario for the star-starved franchise in Utah to land Parker.
Scola on the Move Again?
The Phoenix Suns absolutely fleeced the Indiana Pacers last year. Indy traded for Argentine veteran Luis Scola and was compelled to surrender Gerald Green, Miles Plumlee and the 2014 first-round pick at No. 27. While the Pacers swung the deal to bolster their frontcourt for tough playoffs series, they will need two more wins against the Miami Heat to reach the NBA Finals and justify the transaction.
The 34-year-old played the fewest minutes of his career (17.1 per game), and his scoring per 36 minutes reached the lowest point in his last five seasons, via Basketball-Reference. Meanwhile, Green and Plumlee each became significant contributors for the surging Suns.
Nevertheless, Scola remains spry for his age and is renowned for being an excellent teammate, which is why it makes sense that the Houston Rockets would seek to reacquire him after he spent five seasons there.
Scola is a true basketball character...Teammates and coaches revere him. (Shane) Battier cited him this weekend as one of his favorite teammates, and Daryl Morey said Kevin McHale is still asking if the Rockets could reacquire Scola.
So, according to the general manager, the coach wants Scola to return to Houston. But does the GM? Morey gained notoriety after swinging a trade that turned Kevin Martin into James Harden, and he inked Dwight Howard the next offseason as an encore.
Scola would not be a splashy transaction, but he can add needed depth to a Rockets frontcourt that struggled with injury and chemistry issues at times. After all, not everyone can be a stretch 4.
Moreover, when dealing with Morey, Indy must remain wary so as not to get fleeced on two different Scola trades. Houston's resident snake oil seller will be looking to unload Omer Asik or Jeremy Lin on someone.
Note: All salary information per ShamSports.com.
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