How Will Kevin Love Trade Stack Up Against Recent Blockbuster Moves?

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How Will Kevin Love Trade Stack Up Against Recent Blockbuster Moves?
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The consensus is that Kevin Love will be leaving the Minnesota Timberwolves at some point this offseason as part of a blockbuster trade.

Unfortunately, that's where certainty on the topic stops. Nobody knows exactly when such a move will happen or how it will take shape.

Where is also hazy, as a handful of teams have assets on offer, including the Chicago Bulls, Cleveland Cavaliers and, maybe, Golden State Warriors.

The why part is easy: Love wants out.

"No matter what the outcome is, I just want to end up in a great place where I can win," Love said on ESPN's SportsNation in June. "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."

He's not the first superstar to make that request.

We've seen this movie before, and the ending doesn't figure to be satisfying for Minnesota. The Wolves' odds of getting fair value in a situation like this are basically nil, which we know because we have four recent blockbusters as precedent to prove the point.

 

The Dwightmare

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On Aug. 10, 2012, the Orlando Magic rid themselves of a disgruntled Dwight Howard, shipping him to the Los Angeles Lakers as part of an absurdly complicated four-team deal with more partner-swapping than a square dance with Ritalin in the punch bowl.

The Magic got back Josh McRoberts, Christian Eyenga, Maurice Harkless, Nikola Vucevic, Arron Afflalo, Al Harrington, a conditional first-rounder from the Denver Nuggets, a conditional first-rounder from the Philadelphia 76ers, a future first from the Lakers and second-rounders from both Denver and Los Angeles.

Got all that?

At any rate, the Magic parlayed those assets into a two-season stretch that featured 43 total wins and two more lottery berths. Vucevic is a nice piece, and things are looking a bit brighter in Orlando these days.

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But to say the Magic were made remotely whole by their Howard haul is a long way from the truth. The Magic don't profile as a playoff team in 2014-15, and you could argue that their best young assets (Victor Oladipo and Aaron Gordon) are on the roster as an indirect result of the Howard deal: Orlando has been terrible, and terrible teams get lottery picks.

This probably isn't the kind of outcome the Wolves are hoping for in a Love exchange, as the team desperately wants to remain competitive in the aftermath of any big trade, per Steve Kyler of BasketballInsiders.com:

It has been ten seasons since the Wolves made the postseason and there is a real desire on the part of ownership and management to compete for a playoff berth this year, hence why a deal with Cleveland hasn’t been consummated.

 Good luck with that.

 

Point Guards on the Move

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Chris Paul and Deron Williams changed teams within a couple of months of each other in 2011, with the former heading to the Los Angeles Clippers on Dec. 8 and the latter shipping out to the Brooklyn Nets on Feb. 23.

Both scenarios were ugly in their own ways. Williams' departure featured a fed-up Jerry Sloan calling it quits, while Paul's included the messy trade veto from the commissioner's office that kept him from becoming a Laker.

Those two trades, distinct as they were, shared something in common: Neither of the two teams jettisoning its superstar point guard made out very well.

The Utah Jazz got Derrick Favors, Devin Harris and a couple of picks from the Nets. The more valuable of those selections became No. 3 overall pick Enes Kanter, who has shown himself to be more of a role player than a star in his brief career. Favors has promise but hasn't yet taken the kind of leap that justifies his central position in a deal for a then-superstar.

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The New Orleans Hornets, as they were then known, got even less for Paul.

Eric Gordon, Chris Kaman, Al-Farouq Aminu and a 2012 first-rounder (via Minnesota) came to the Bayou in exchange for CP3. Gordon couldn't get healthy, Kaman flopped and Aminu was a fringe rotation player. Worst of all, that pick turned into Austin Rivers, one of the least productive players in the league during his time in New Orleans.

Lucking into Anthony Davis in the 2012 draft was a fortunate turn, but it happened independent of anything to do with Paul.

That's not encouraging for the Wolves either. But if we look at one last deal, perhaps there's hope.

 

The Melo-Drama

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The New York Knicks obliged Carmelo Anthony's stated desires to escape Denver on Feb. 22, 2011. To bring in the scoring stud, the Knicks gave up Wilson Chandler, Raymond Felton, Danilo Gallinari, Timofey Mozgov, a 2014 first-rounder, two seconds and the right to conditionally swap a 2016 first-rounder.

Chauncey Billups, Anthony Carter, Renaldo Balkman and Shelden Williams went with Anthony to New York.

Though it's not saying much, the haul Denver got in the Anthony deal is probably the best of any recent blockbuster exchange. The key element was the sheer volume of NBA-ready contributors, headlined by Gallinari, Felton and Chandler.

In addition, the Nuggets kept spinning the assets they got into better ones. Andre Iguodala showed up in 2012 in exchange for that 2014 pick. Now, to be fair, Denver had a lot of talent on hand to begin with, and having the 2012-13 Executive and Coach of the Year in Masai Ujiri and George Karl, respectively, didn't hurt either.

Denver made the playoffs in 2011-12, and then won another 57 games in 2012-13. It failed to win a series, but when compared to the repeated lottery trips of the teams involved in the foregoing blockbusters, those results stand out.

 

Flash Forward

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History lesson over. Time to apply what we've learned to the Wolves' current situation.

If the volume of assets, a combination of NBA-ready talent and picks (like the Denver deal) is the way to go, Minnesota should probably take the Bulls' reported offer.

Assuming there's a pick or two tossed into that package as a sweetener, the Wolves probably can't expect to do much better.

Of course, if Minnesota would prefer to ignore history and instead swing for the fences, the Cavaliers' potential-laden offer of Andrew Wiggins, Anthony Bennett and a future first-round pick, as reported by Marc Stein and Brian Windhorst of ESPN.com, might be best.

With the benefit of hindsight, it's possible to argue that any of Minnesota's potentially available returns (including the seemingly dead package of Klay Thompson, David Lee and Harrison Barnes from the Warriors) would be better than what the Jazz got for Williams.

And there's little doubt they'd trump what the Hornets got for Paul.

What the Cavs and Bulls are offering is at least on par with what the Magic got for Howard, but it may fall short of the Nuggets' haul for Melo.

The lesson the Timberwolves are learning isn't new. When superstars want out, their teams are stuck choosing between the best of bad options. 

There's one thing Minnesota's likely return on a Love trade (whichever one it chooses) will share in common with all of those swaps from the past: It won't be enough.

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