Kevin Love has the NBA in the palm of his hand.
Not only does his final destination—if the Minnesota Timberwolves pull the trigger before the deadline—dictate the future landscape of the league, he is single-handedly generating interest in the league during the lull of the offseason.
Sure, the summer leagues were entertaining, but with big fish like LeBron James off the market, things have hit rock bottom in terms of attention.
Except for Love. There are other players in trade talks, too, but he's the mecca at this point. Here's the latest on his situation, with a dash of other rumblings to boot.
Josh Smith Needs a Third Team
This can be construed a couple of ways.
For one, Josh Smith probably needs to seek asylum with his third NBA team after one year in Detroit, especially after his name has come up so often in trade talks.
Two, the Detroit Pistons and Sacramento Kings apparently need a third team to finalize a deal for the 28-year-old veteran, per ESPN's Marc Stein:
Sources told ESPN.com the Kings have continued to express interest in Smith and the parties are on the hunt for a third team that could help facilitate the deal.
As ESPN.com reported last month, Detroit and Sacramento have engaged in trade discussions that would potentially land Smith in the same frontcourt with DeMarcus Cousins and Rudy Gay. Initial talks called for Sacramento to send Jason Thompson and either Derrick Williams or Jason Terry to the Pistons for Smith, but those discussions reached an impasse and were pushed into July along with the rest of both teams' free-agent business, sources said.
Now, as anyone with a basic knowledge of the league can fathom from that nugget, one thing stands out—the Kings are out to rip the Pistons off in a major manner.
Sorry, but Stan Van Gundy in his first year as coach is not going to just surrender Smith as a lost cause. This is the guy who dealt with the Dwightmare for years in Orlando—he'll try to coerce every ounce of production out of Smith possible, especially after the front office decided it was a good idea to ink him to a four-year deal that pays him $13.5 million each year through 2016-2017, per Spotrac.
That said, things don't look great as Hardwood Paroxysm and his numbers the last few seasons suggest:
Josh Smith's chill chart. I say that because tere is no heat here. pic.twitter.com/CPfcNBXwDR— Hardwood Paroxysm (@HPbasketball) July 17, 2014
There is still potential with a player Smith's age, and it's going to take more than a bag of chips to rip him away from SVG, especially in a weak Eastern Conference. Jason Thompson is 28 years of age and a career backup, Derrick Williams is a former No. 2 overall pick and project and Jason Terry is 36 years old and Jason Terry.
Until a third team steps up and throws some resources around, the deal isn't happening.
Greg Monroe Being Pushed Away?
Interestingly enough, SVG does seem more than willing to move on from versatile forward Greg Monroe, although he is just 24 years old and a restricted free agent.
It seems like a ridiculous maneuver for SVG's rebuilding task, but Stein provides confirmation that his front office was involved in talks with Portland recently, although they eventually broke down:
Sources said the Pistons also seriously discussed various sign-and-trade scenarios this month that would have landed restricted free agent Greg Monroe in Portland, but the Blazers ultimately pulled themselves out of the race for Monroe by signing free-agent big man Chris Kaman to join Robin Lopez in the Blazers' center rotation.
This, of course, flies directly in the face of what SVG has offered the media as of late, and a note from Vincent Ellis of the Detroit Free Press suggests that the desire to move on rests on the organization's side:
Just got off the phone with SVG: "Greg’s never said anything to us about not wanting to play with Josh."— Vincent Ellis (@Vincent_Ellis56) July 3, 2014
But don't think that because the Trail Blazers bowed out that this saga is over. According to NBC Sports' Jordan Schultz, a new team has emerged in the running for the Georgetown product's services:
Hearing Suns may be considering a Greg Monroe offer. They have space to get both him and Bledsoe but would lose cap flexibility long-term.— Jordan Schultz (@Schultz_Report) July 20, 2014
Monroe averaged 15.2 points, 2.1 assists and 9.3 boards a season ago, and he's a smart fit in Phoenix, on a team that has plenty of assets to give up in any potential deal.
After all, the Suns are the franchise that just missed the postseason in a competitive conference last year, added three first-round picks in the draft and will do so again next year. A developing Monroe would be yet another superb young piece to the puzzle, especially in the paint next to Miles Plumlee.
It seems that sooner or later, Monroe will be officially out of Detroit.
Warriors Getting Defensive About Love
If Love is going to avoid playing out the final year of his contract in Minnesota, it seems one of either Cleveland or Golden State will need to swoop in and pull off the rescue.
Those two franchises have been linked the most to the trade, although both clearly have reservations.
For Cleveland, the hiccup seems to be the potential inclusion of No. 1 overall pick Andrew Wiggins, although the two sides are still working on a deal as of Sunday, per 1500 ESPN's Darren Wolfson.
Perhaps what is more interesting is the reason the Warriors have not pulled the trigger—they don't want to sacrifice Klay Thompson in the deal for the sake of defense, per Sam Amick of USA Today:
Their recent refusal to include guard and Timberwolves target Klay Thompson in the deal is rooted in this reality, as losing Thompson would not only leave Curry overexposed defensively in the backcourt but is compounded by the fact that Love — much like incumbent power forward David Lee, who would head to Minnesota if this deal got done — isn't exactly known as a two-way player.
The Warriors would be a surefire contender with Love, obviously, but the team would lose entirely too much on the defensive end of the court, where he's merely mediocre.
Should GS give up Thompson for Love?
There is the offense to consider, too—Thompson scored 18.4 points per game last season and shot better than 44 percent from the field overall and 41.7 percent from deep.
More importantly, Thompson flustered Chris Paul for the duration of the Warriors-Los Angeles Clippers playoff series, further enforcing his status as a strong defender. Losing that on the wing and adding a liability like Love in the paint is obviously something the front office is unwilling to do.
So no, the Love saga isn't about to go away. The league won't complain, though.