Rumored to be on the trading block last season, the stock value of Minnesota's Kevin Love has never been higher. At the age of 22, the 6'10" power forward is a pure glass cleaner. He self-admittedly takes a great amount of pride in his ability to rebound and pass the ball.
During this young season, Love has grabbed at least 20 rebounds in a game five times, including an amazing 31 boards against the Knicks in November. Through 24 games, the Portland area native is averaging 20.5 points and 15.6 rebounds per game.
Other then former Timberwolf Kevin Garnett, the Minnesota franchise has never bucked up to sign young talent to big dollar long-term contracts.
With employer loyalty written on the wall, don't expect Love to stay in Minneapolis past next season when his Minnesota contract expires. If the former UCLA freshman star continues his strong play, Minnesota ownership will be forced to pay big money following next season.
If Blazers general manager Rich Cho and president Larry Miller could find a way to return Love to his hometown, it would quickly revitalize the fanbase. Currently entertained by an average team and reeling from the failure of Greg Oden's body, the Blazer community needs an injection of excitement.
Love attended nearby Lake Oswego High School as one of the most heralded recruits to ever come from the state of Oregon. His blue-collar mentality on the court would be cherished inside the Rose Garden.
Currently the Blazers are sitting at 12-12 and are 23rd in the league averaging 23.2 rebounds per game. Unfortunately, the team is bogged down after signing LaMarcus Aldridge and Brandon Roy to huge contracts this past offseason. The inability of Oden to reach the court has made him into a very ineffective trading chip.
With the quality play of Michael Beasley, and the semi-emergence of Darko Milicic, Minnesota may be willing to part with Love.
A few scenarios between Minnesota and Portland to consider:
Andre Miller and LaMarcus Aldridge to Minnesota for Luke Ridnour and Kevin Love
Aldridge has always been undervalued by Portland fans and has been on the trading block for the past few seasons. Miller has played well in Portland, and his experience would be very valuable for a young Minnesota squad. The salary of Aldridge would be the key point in negotiations between the two teams.
Nicholas Batum and Rudy Fernandez for Kevin Love and Johnny Flynn
Both Batum and Fernandez are very cheap considering their production and potential. This would leave a logjam for the Timberwolves at small forward and shooting guard, hence the addition of Flynn to the deal. The former Syracuse guard has been somewhat of a bust over the past two seasons.
Luke Babbitt, Joel Pryzbilla and Greg Oden for Kevin Love, Martell Webster and Nikola Pekovic
Sending Webster and Pekovic would provide a pleasant release of salary for Minnesota. The team would add a true inside presence (Pryzbilla) underneath the basket. A first round pick in 2010, Babbitt played very well for the Blazers during the summer league. A decision regarding the retention of Oden could be made following this season.
Brandon Roy and Rudy Fernandez for Kevin Love and Luke Ridnour
Fernandez has long wanted more playing time and Roy, once the pride of the franchise, has been questioned because of the deterioration of his knees.
The pleasantly surprising play of Wesley Matthews makes Roy no longer an untouchable player. Much like Love, Ridnour was born in the Northwest and holds a strong local presence in the area.
While fans may questions the value of Love, adding a homegrown talent at the age of 22 would promise to fill the Rose Garden for years to come. Just a few seasons ago, Blazer supporters awaited a imminent run for an NBA Championship. Those hopes have been dashed, and the team needs to add new pieces to revive the hopes of an NBA title in Rip City.