When it comes to trading a star talent, sometimes it's easier to extract maximum value and make the salaries match up by adding a third team to the negotiations.
That might end up being the best path for the Cleveland Cavaliers and Minnesota Timberwolves to find a deal for Kevin Love.
Here's Marc Stein at ESPN.com with the latest on the trade desires of the Timberwolves:
The Minnesota Timberwolves have expressed interest in Philadelphia 76ers power forward Thaddeus Young as a potential replacement for Kevin Love, according to sources close to the situation.
Sources told ESPN.com that the Wolves, while continuing to discuss trade proposals that would send Love to the Cleveland Cavaliers, have been exploring their options for acquiring Young from the Sixers, either through a separate transaction or as part of an expanded Love trade.
Whether Philadelphia proves willing to part with Young, though, remains to be seen.
You can understand the logic from Minnesota's side. While it's just about impossible to replace Love's immense production on the glass and with his outside shooting, Young is a valuable player who could work next to lumbering big man Nikola Pekovic.
While the big appeal of a three-way trade between Cleveland, Philadelphia and Minnesota would be receiving No. 1 pick Andrew Wiggins, it makes sense for Minnesota to want someone who can plug in at the 4 right away. Anthony Bennett is still an appealing prospect, but the Wolves might be signing up for a rough season if he's the lone frontcourt replacement brought back for Love.
As for what Philadelphia should want out of the deal? Here's Kurt Helin at Pro Basketball Talk on whether or not the Sixers are ready to move on from Young:
They have been for a while, they just want the right mix of young players and/or picks in return. The Sixers are a rebuilding team acquiring young assets—Michael Carter-Williams, Nerlens Noel, Joel Embiid—and they want more they can put in that mix. Minnesota has picks and assets Philly could want.
Young is a very athletic forward, one who averaged 17.9 points a game last season and in the past has shown to be an efficient player when not forced to carry as much of a load as he was last season. He doesn’t shoot the three or rebound on the level of Love, but he is a quality player that could help Minnesota not go into full rebuilding mode after a deal.
Getting Philadelphia to move on from Young shouldn't be too hard. He's the only real valuable veteran left on the roster, and you have to think it's only a matter of time before he gets sick of playing for an inexperienced, losing team. Moving him while he has trade value and before he's set to become a free agent makes sense.
Future first-round draft picks and/or a young prospect should be enough to get Philadelphia involved, either of which would need to come from Cleveland. If both Minnesota and Cleveland have the mutual desire to be competitive, it's logical to include a team like Philadelphia that doesn't.
For Cleveland, getting a third team involved can help them retain more of its established talent and put forth a better product this year. If Love is coming over in a trade, the Cavs need to prove they're a legitimate championship contender in order to have him re-sign and not bolt for free agency. Even though it would be shocking for him to leave, maybe the same could be said for LeBron James.
Here's what Love said on ESPN's "SportsNation" earlier this offseason about what he wants:
'My agent is handling everything at this point ... I'm hoping that everything works out for all parties involved,' Love said...
'No matter what the outcome is, I just want to end up in a great place where I can win,' Love said on "SportsNation." 'At the end of the day, I've played six years, haven't made the playoffs yet, that burns me and hurts my heart, so I really want to be playing.'
Once you put the desires on the table, you can see this three-way deal is a good fit for all.
Cleveland wants Love and to fortify its chances at a title. Minnesota wants a rookie with huge potential in Wiggins, but also a viable replacement for Love to insure it don't bottom out. Philadelphia wants lottery tickets for the future.
Here's what a potential deal could look like once the 30-day window for Wiggins to be traded passes:
Cleveland Receives: PF Kevin Love ($15.7), SG Corey Brewer ($4.7)
Minnesota Receives: SG Andrew Wiggins ($5.5), PF Thaddeus Young ($9.4), PF Anthony Bennett ($5.6), PG John Lucas III ($1.6) and Cleveland's 2018 first-round pick.
Philadelphia Receives: SG Dion Waiters ($4.1), PG J.J. Barea ($4.5), C Brendan Haywood ($2.2), PF Malcolm Thomas (950k) and a 2015 first-round pick (via Miami from Cleveland).
Let's break down why this might work for all three teams.
Cleveland is obviously the big winner here, as they get a transcendent talent in Love. While forfeiting two first-round picks, Wiggins, Bennett and Waiters might not be viewed as ideal, that's right along the line of what true superstars like Carmelo Anthony have gone for in the past.
Acquiring Corey Brewer helps after moving so much depth, as his improved corner three-point shooting, length defensively and athleticism in transition are a perfect fit next to Love and James on the wing.
For Minnesota, this isn't a bad haul at all. Wiggins is the big prize, but getting Young and Bennett can fortify the frontcourt along with Pekovic and Gorgui Dieng going forward. There's some trade flexibility and interesting pairings in that group.
Lucas is on a non-guaranteed deal that can be waived, and getting Barea off the books makes sense with free agent Mo Williams signing with the team.
Basically, this allows Minnesota to stay somewhat competitive while getting two former No. 1 overall picks as well as a future draft choice. This should stave off a lengthy rebuilding period at the least.
The acquired 2018 first-round pick is a bet that James will go somewhere else between now and then, and for that reason it's probably more valuable than a pick slated to come over sooner.
For Philadelphia, this is a wager that Waiters figures it out and settles into his role, whether that be as a high-usage shooting guard or an electric sixth man. Even if that doesn't happen, though, the 76ers aren't taking on much risk here. A rookie-scale player and a future first-round choice isn't a bad haul for Young.
Haywood's contract for 2015-16 is non-guaranteed, Barea is on an expiring deal and could be flipped somewhere else and Thomas is non-guaranteed, although he's an intriguing keeper as a rebounding machine for Philadelphia's youth movement.
The pick via Miami (top-10 protected in 2015 and 2016, unprotected after) is a bet that Dwyane Wade can't stay healthy and that things fall apart post-LeBron. Even if the selection ends up in the early 20s, that pick still has value.
While there are a lot of different combinations that could work here, the important thing is that the incentive for all three sides matches up. That seems to be case, and it's why a three-team trade for Kevin Love along these lines could work.
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