Rumors, along with being my third-favorite Adele song, have cropped up in the last few days regarding Minnesota Timberwolves forward Kevin Love’s imminent departure after zero playoff games in his first six seasons.
Love is an incredible talent: he averaged 26.5 points, 12.1 rebounds, and 4.4 assists in 36.3 minutes per game this season, numbers that haven’t been reached since Kareem Abdul-Jabbar in the 1975-76 season.
Love reportedly listed his top destinations as Los Angeles and New York (shocking!), meaning that even in the ether, the Brooklyn Nets are a distant option. A few of you (okay, a lot of you) have asked me about this already. The Nets need to improve after a disappointing 44-38 season, and along with his incredible once-in-a-generation combination of rebounding and shooting, he’d fit in in Williamsburg immediately.
I know it’s fun to include the Nets in nearly every trade proposal, since Billy King makes trades like most of us make breakfast, but there’s one problem in that idea:
The Nets don’t have anything to offer. So that ends that.
When NBA teams are pressured with losing a superstar, the trade offers they’ll get involve some combination of three things: expiring contracts (to balance the deal), draft picks, and young players with explosive potential. When the Nets dealt for Deron Williams, they hit on two of three, trading Derrick Favors (explosive potential), two draft picks, and point guard Devin Harris, whose contract expired the same year Williams’s did.
The Nets aren’t young. Their young talent includes Mason Plumlee, an efficient, athletic system player, and Bojan Bogdanovic, who has never played an NBA game. Jorge Gutierrez? No. Marquis Teague? Please don’t hurt yourself.
The Nets have no draft picks. They’ve already traded away their first-rounders in 2014, 2016, and 2018, meaning the earliest first-round draft pick they could trade is in 2020. If Kevin Garnett & Paul Pierce required three first-rounders to seal the deal, one six years in the future is not going to do it for Kevin Love.
The Timberwolves also likely won’t Brook Lopez, who’s recovering from multiple surgeries on his broken foot. If you think Lopez is such an attractive trade piece, think about why you’re looking for the Nets to trade him in the first place. He’s not guaranteed to come back healthy, and there are better options for the Timberwolves to find value. The Houston Rockets can put together an intriguing package, and the Los Angeles Lakers have a high lottery pick to dangle and can almost swallow Love’s entire contract in their cap space. There’s boatloads of safer high-upside options for the Timberwolves to mull over if they decide to pull the trigger.
The Nets are flush with expiring contracts — other than Johnson, Williams, and Lopez, nobody’s got a guaranteed Nets contract as of today beyond next year. But Kevin Love’s not going to command just expiring contracts.
So don’t focus your eyes on this prize. (Though, for what it’s worth, the last time I thought the Nets wouldn’t get a trade done, it actually happened.) The Nets will surely do their due diligence when it comes to Kevin Love, but that’s about as far as it’ll go.