Culture of Hoops

The Kevin Love Trade: Another Minnesota Timberwolves Tragedy

Image courtesy of Keith Allison/Flickr.

Image courtesy of Keith Allison/Flickr.

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Minnesota is like a black hole of NBA managerial mistakes: The dumbest decisions are forgotten or simply ignored because the media doesn’t care about Minnesota’s sports idiocy. Fans of the Minnesota Timberwolves have been ravaged by inadequate management for the team’s entire existence. Here’s an example that Bill Simmons doled out last year about their bungling of the 2009 NBA draft.

The Timberwolves turned a potential Rubio/Curry/Lawson windfall into just Rubio (who didn’t come to Minnesota for two extra years); two years of Flynn (played in Australia last year); backup guard Malcolm Lee; three injury-plagued years and more than $15 million of damaged goods (Webster and Roy); and nearly $6 million of Webster/Milicic buyouts. They also briefly had and lost Motiejunas (a promising rotation guy for Houston), Parsons (no. 48 on the trade value list), Mirotic (Chicago’s best prospect overseas) and Cole (a rotation guy for a 66-win team); and they have Memphis’s 2013 first-rounder (near the bottom of a dreadful draft) and Brooklyn’s 2013 second-rounder to show for their troubles.

The Timberwolves would later mull trading Kevin Love, one of the best big men in the game, to the Golden State Warriors, but with zero chance to get the untouchable Warriors player they could have drafted twice ahead of Golden State in 2009, Stephen Curry. Golden State offered 2-time All-Star David Lee (18.2 PPG, 9.3 RPG, 2.1 APG), the budding Harrison Barnes (9.5 PPG, 4.0 RPG, 1.5 APG; growth stunted by unnecessary acquisition of Andre Iguodala), and multiple picks for Kevin Love and whatever other else the Wolves had to do to match salaries. Many rumors speculated that the trade also would have included the Warriors’ much coveted Klay Thompson, but no team officials for either team have confirmed this detail. Even without Thompson, that’s a pretty good trade, but that’s not what the trade for Love that the Timberwolves agreed to.

Instead, the Warriors are trading Kevin Love to the Cleveland Cavaliers for the uncomprehensibly underwhelming 2013 No.1 pick Anthony Bennett (4.2 PPG, 3.0 RPG, 03. APG), the gifted and confused 2014 No.1 pick  Andrew Wiggins (Rookie), and a protected 2015 first-round draft pick.

Yeah, it is pretty stupid. The Timberwolves are not even guaranteeing the 2015 first-round draft pick for themselves. There was absolutely no reason for the Cavaliers to rush this trade, but you can’t wait if the trade partner is this dumb. You have to just go for it and hope they don’t realize how stupid this is until the transaction is complete. Thanks to leaks from both sides, it was revealed that Love agreed to sign a max contract with the Cavaliers after the 2014-15 season before the trade was agreed upon, an illegal maneuver that grants the NBA permission to veto the trade. The Cavaliers are crossing their fingers, toes, and eyes hoping that this atrocity goes through anyway.

It’s hard not to feel horrible for Timberwolves’ fans. Kevin Love fell into their lap and was not expected to be an All-Star caliber player. He ended up putting numbers unheard of during the modern basketball era, and the team still couldn’t sniff the playoffs. Now, they have no superstar talent, average NBA players on their roster demanding max player salaries, and a general manager-head coach-part owner running the team on the basis of saving his job. Don’t expect the winters to become warmer anytime soon. The injection of new players has bought many head coaches extra time to figure things out before the general managers fires him. Flip Saunders can’t fire himself. He wouldn’t even be able to find the lighter.

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