Kevin Love might be on his way out of Minnesota. No, stop, I'm actually serious this time.
The impasse between Love and the Timberwolves appears to have reached a point of no return. The NBA draft is approaching, and by the sounds of things, the three-time All-Star is no closer to committing his long-term future to the organization.
With the 2014 draft a week away, Minnesota knows it has to act fast, and as a result, a very real trade scenario has come to the fore.
ESPN's Chris Broussard reported that the Timberwolves would send Kevin Love, Kevin Martin, J.J. Barea and the 13th overall pick to the Golden State Warriors for Klay Thompson and David Lee:
Sources: Twolves & Warriors discussing Possible trade: KLove, KMartin, JJBarea, 13th pick for Klay Thompson and David Lee— Chris Broussard (@Chris_Broussard) June 19, 2014
Yahoo Sports' Adrian Wojnarowski reported that a deal isn't close and very fluid:
"No deal is close," league source involved in Minnesota-Golden State talks on Kevin Love tells Yahoo. "(Pieces) change all the time."— Adrian Wojnarowski (@WojYahooNBA) June 19, 2014
Still several teams pursuing Kevin Love who don't believe Minnesota's Flip Saunders is in a deal-making mode -- yet.— Adrian Wojnarowski (@WojYahooNBA) June 19, 2014
Sam Amick of USA Today shed some light on what's going on behind the scenes:
Key distinction: Warriors showed new willingness to have Klay Thompson in talks, but haven't agreed. If they did, get sense it would be done— Sam Amick (@sam_amick) June 19, 2014
T-Wolves have now made their desires clear in the Golden State talks. Involved parties leaning heavily towards idea that it happens.— Sam Amick (@sam_amick) June 19, 2014
Key factor: Klay Thompson (one year left on deal) will be looking for max money & GS payroll already up there. GS still negotiating though.— Sam Amick (@sam_amick) June 19, 2014
Last tidbit on GS-Minny talks: Wolves want that first-rounder, but Warriors aren't very eager to include it. Thus, the situation still fluid— Sam Amick (@sam_amick) June 19, 2014
Trading a superstar is never easy. The fans won't be happy to see the team's best player leave, and getting back fair value is nearly impossible. Throughout sports history, rarely have both teams come out the better when an All-Star is involved.
Still, the T-Wolves know that they risk losing Love at the end of next year for nothing. As long as they can get something back, it's not the end of the world.
Even with that in mind, this is a surprisingly bad trade from a Timberwolves perspective. SB Nation's Mike Prada broke down the points of contention:
That GSW-MIN proposal is essentially two trades, both bad for MIN. 1. Love for Klay and Lee 2. Pick as a price for taking two bad contracts— Mike Prada (@MikePradaSBN) June 19, 2014
Ball Don't Lie's Kelly Dwyer thought this was all an indictment of Flip Saunders as a general manager:
Sources: Flip Saunders is exactly the sort of GM we expected him to be.— Kelly Dwyer (@KDonhoops) June 19, 2014
If you exclude the draft pick, Minnesota is giving up one of the league's premier 4s for Lee and Thompson.
As a Timberwolves fan, would you be happy with a Thompson/Lee-for-Love deal?
You know what you're getting with Lee. He'll crash the boards and score inside. His value is somewhat tempered by the fact that he's making $15-plus million this year and next. Lee has one of the more unwieldy contracts throughout the league.
Thompson, meanwhile, is a promising, young three-point shooter, which is something Minnesota certainly needs. However, he's nowhere near a star-caliber player to this point. Love is almost certainly better right now than Thompson will be down the road. After all, the two are apart in age by just a year.
The 24-year-old is also in line for a new contract soon. If he does ask for max money, that's paying a lot to a player who arguably hasn't earned a max deal quite yet. The Timberwolves would be gambling a lot of their future on the Warriors guard.
Packaging Lee and Thompson together for a deal involving Love is a good start rather than a destination. If anything, the nature of Lee's contract cancels out some of the value in adding Thompson.
Fans in Minnesota likely knew the team's future would look a little bleak for the immediate future, but they might not have envisioned a situation like this.