The NBA is a business. While team executives place a high importance on winning, they do so with a business-first mindset. They must find the delicate balance between crafting a team that can compete for a championship and doing so in a way that makes sense financially. That’s why teams sometimes trade All-Star players and choose to let go of bright young stars.
When it comes to the NBA draft and the impending free-agency period, it would be wise to remember that fact, even though we’d like to believe otherwise. With that in mind, let’s take a look at two of the latest league rumors.
Are the Nuggets a new player for Kevin Love?
A plethora of NBA teams would trade for Kevin Love if they could. The reasons are obvious.
He is a three-time All-Star, a consistent double-double machine and has the ability to extend the floor with his ability to hit from deep. But more importantly, he is not yet 26 years old, meaning he is just entering his prime. That’s a lot of reasons to love Love.
The power forward has made it known he is no longer interested in playing for the Minnesota Timberwolves, as he would rather play for a team that has a better chance to contend for a championship.
Teams like the Boston Celtics, Los Angeles Lakers, Houston Rockets and Chicago Bulls lust the former UCLA Bruin and have expressed their interest in finding a way to sign him. But now a new team has entered the mix, per Steve Bulpett of the Boston Herald.
This is an intriguing offer. This potential package of players appears to be better than what the Celtics have reportedly offered, which consists of a combination of draft picks, Jared Sullinger or Kelly Olynyk, per ESPN’s Chad Ford (subscription required).
Assuming the Nuggets could work out a trade with Arron Afflalo, and that’s a large assumption, Minnesota would be wise to accept their trade offer. Rather than lose Love for nothing when he can opt out of his contract next year or trade him for draft pieces and projects, the Timberwolves would receive three players who have proven their worth in the league.
Wilson Chandler knows how to score and is a sharpshooter from distance, Kenneth Faried brings energy and rebounding skills that few players can match, while Afflalo is a terrific two-way player who can fill it up offensively and defend an opposing team’s best player.
Denver would also obviously benefit by trading for Love. Not only would they receive a top-10 player in the NBA, but star point guard Ty Lawson would provide a nice complement and a solid foundation for a team that missed the playoffs last season but had previously made the postseason every year since 2004.
What will the Kings do with Isaiah Thomas?
Isaiah Thomas is only 25 years old. He made the NBA All-Rookie Second Team in 2012 and had his best year as a professional last season. The three-year pro has increased his scoring output each season as he has become increasingly comfortable competing against the best players in the world. Last year, he averaged 20.3 points per game on a career-best 45.3 percent shooting while also bumping his assist average up by more than two dimes per night (6.3).
That’s mighty impressive for a 5’9”, 185-pound point guard and former 60th pick in the draft. However, the Sacramento Kings have not decided if they wish to keep him in a purple uniform, according to Jake Fischer of the Boston Globe and Slam Online.
According to Ford, it is likely that the Kings trade their No. 8 pick: "The Kings continue to be active in trying to trade the pick, with multiple sources saying that a trade is more likely than the Kings drafting where they are."
As Fischer points out, the team may be interested in sending Thomas and its top-10 selection to the Phoenix Suns for Eric Bledsoe. There is no denying that Bledsoe is a tremendous talent. He’s only 6’1”, but he plays much larger and tougher than that.
Per 36 minutes last season, the point guard averaged 19.4 points, 6.0 assists, 5.1 rebounds and 1.8 steals. However, questions about his durability are legitimate. When he’s on the floor, there is no doubting his productivity, but injuries kept Bledsoe out for half of last year.
Thomas, a restricted free agent, made less than a million dollars during the 2013-14 season. His performance last year warrants a massive increase in salary, but not all Kings executives are sold on bringing him back. Perhaps they believe Thomas isn’t worth what other teams might be willing to pay.
It’s possible Sacramento won’t trade Thomas and will decide to match a potential offer if the price is right. But the team has been in a similar position before. The Kings drafted a young star in Tyreke Evans in 2009 but decided to trade him four seasons later to the New Orleans Pelicans rather than pay him big money.
Note: All stats via Basketball-Reference.com.
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