Love is Gone: How the Timberwolves Stay Afloat Without Kevin Love

(Side note, I thought about starting to call Kevin Love “The Klove,” which by the way makes no sense after I found out that it’s an adult contemporary Christian music radio programming service. Yes, that’s right, I actually took the time out of my day to Google “klove.” Laugh it up readers, laugh it up.)

The Timberwolves run on Love. Not to say that they are a gushy team or anything, but you catch my drift. Minnesota stands on four legs. One leg, and the one holding up most of the weight, is Love. Another is Nikola Pekovic, a third is Andrei Kirilenko and a fourth, albeit in a limited role this year due to injury, is Ricky Rubio.

With Kevin Love, Minnesota is a low-seed playoff contender. Without him they are definitely on the wrong side of the number eight seed.

Just to reiterate, Minnesota was 26-40 last year. The worst record in the conference belonged to the Hornets at 21-45. Kevin Love had a win share of 10 last year. Jumble that all together and throw in some math signs + = / to make it look super educated and you get 16. 16 wins the T-Wolves would have had without their sole Olympian and biggest player since Kevin Garnett (sorry Mark Madsen.)

Granted that was last year, and this year is a whole different animal in terms of the season, but the T-Wolves are still in trouble. Kirilenko has carried the team so far, but I have serious reservations about whether he can carry a team for the 8-10 weeks that Love will be out. Let me rephrase that, he can carry a team, but can Minnesota stay competitive if he’s the “Atlas” of the team? Probably not.

The team needs something new. Whether that be a trade acquisition, like say shipping Kirilenko, Derrick Williams and Luke Ridnour to Memphis for Rudy Gay. Or getting injured players healthy, and in the lineup again like Rubio and Chase Budinger.

At the end of the day, the Timberwolves aren’t going to be as good as they were with Love. It’s just not going to work. The team is built around “Klove” (that might be the last time you see that on the internet ever.)

What do you think? Will Minnesota be able to stay in contention with Kevin Love, or will they fall out of it without him and never recover? Tell me in the comments section.

Game of Dominoes: NBA Free Agency

Let’s cut the flabber and get right to it. Steve Nash is heading to the Lakers in one of the more shocking moves of the offseason. The 38-year-old was shipped to LA in a sign-and-trade for two future first rounders and two future second rounders. The initial reaction isn’t a huge one. With Nash joining a proven playoff team, the picks figure to be at the end of their respective rounds. The thing is, though, that this was probably the best thing Phoenix was going to get. It surely beats letting him walk for nothing, and trumps out whatever sign-and-trade options Toronto, Dallas or New York would have offered.

It’s also somewhat genius for LA. Financial fodder aside, the Lakers got a top-tier player for relatively nothing. Los Angeles has a tendency to move their late first rounders for useful players in years past, so moving them for Nash isn’t surprising. Not to mention Steve Nash is much more than a useful player. No, the Lake Show didn’t get to unload Metta World Peace’s contract in the move, or any contract for that matter, but the Suns probably wouldn’t take it, or want it.

On the flip side of this, Phoenix seems to be throwing their new-found cap space at young, offensively-talented players. They have supposedly signed former Sun and Nash understudy, Goran Dragic, to a four-year deal and have also agreed to terms with former number two overall pick Michael Beasley on a multi-year pact. The third potential attacking prong is that of Eric Gordon. The Suns have signed him to a large offer sheet, and New Orleans could be hesitant to match given the fact that they are rebuilding and don’t want to tie down too much of their future money to one player, even one of Gordon’s talent. The Suns seem to be in less disarray than people would think after losing their face-of-the-franchise. A core of Dragic, Beasley, Kendall Marshall, Markieff Morris and potentially Gordon is pretty desirable, especially for a team that wants to score in drones like Phoenix does.

With Nash now out of the picture, Dallas has lost on one of their point guard options, scratch that, one of their options period. Lamar Odom is gone and the return is simply a trade exception. That we knew was probably coming, but what’s more is that the Mavs find themselves having gone down swinging on Nash, Jason Terry, Jason Kidd and Derron Williams. Yikes. What Mark Cuban and friends do next is beyond me.

Speaking of Williams, he’s staying a Net. One reason for that is the acquisition of one Joe Johnson. Johnson will join Williams along with recently signed Gerald Wallace in Brooklyn at the expense of Anthony Morrow, Jordan Farmar, DeShawn Stevenson (likely a sign-and-trade) as well as forwards Jordan Williams, Johan Petro and a draft pick. This move looks terrible for Atlanta when news trickles in that Jordan Farmar is likely being bought out. That likely leaves the Hawks with some three pointers by Morrow and some defensive stops from Stevenson. Not exactly what you envision when you trade a six-time All Star. But here is why it’s so wonderfully brilliant. All the contracts the Hawks received in return only run through next season. That’s right, all expiring contracts. Even more surprising is the fact that Danny Ferry also shed Marvin Williams oddly long contract by way of Utah, dealing another former number two overall pick to the Jazz for Devin Harris. Who, in sticking to theme, also has an expiring contract after this season.  So add that all up and the Hawks have thrown themselves into the much finagled running for Dwight Howard and All-Star Point Guard X, who might or might not end up being Chris Paul.

In other New York news, Jeremy Lin might be done playing for the Knicks. It’s reported that Jason Kidd has verbally, or whatever the official term is, reached an agreement with the Knicks. Because of the new CBA among other things, the Knicks do technically have the ability to match any offer that is made to Lin, but it could be costly as reports suggest that Houston is discussing an offer sheet in the neighborhood of 30 million dollars. Talk about “overnight” success.

Houston meanwhile is putting a lot of their eggs in that “Lin” basket. The team moved Kyle Lowry to Toronto for a first-round pick that takes a lawyer to decipher when Houston could actually get the pick. That and Goran Dragic’s aforementioned presumable departure leaves the point wide open for Kevin McHale’s club. It would be a bit funny if Lin stays in New York and the Rockets go after and sign Aaron Brooks. Brooks was traded to Phoenix for Dragic, and should he sign with Houston… well you get the point.

With no transition at all here, no really, none at all, the Clippers are getting better. In terms of success, the newer Los Angeles team strengthened a solid backcourt to the point of using the word ridiculous. Randy Foye and Nick Young are likely out the door, but in their place return the now-healthy Mr. Big Shot as well as Jamal Crawford. They join Chris Paul and Eric Bledsoe in a backcourt that now has four starting caliber guards. This move also merits the acquisition of Lamar Odom at the cost of Mo Williams. If you’re playing along at home, that’s a starting five of Chris Paul, Billups or Crawford at the two, Odom at the three (if not off the bench), Blake Griffin at power forward and DeAndre Jordan down low. Yikes.

In a slight towards the Oklahoma Raiders, what a crap deal to trade away Eric Bledsoe’s draft rights for a future first round pick, they could have definitely used him in the playoffs. Actually, good for Bledsoe: the Raiders don’t get a good player and Bledsoe doesn’t have to play for a terrible owner. Win-win.

In guards-who-can-score-at-all-times news, Jason Terry is going to Boston. Or he has “supposedly” agreed to a contract with the Celtics. Terry will get the full mid-level exception for three years and upwards of 15 million dollars. Jason Kidd supposedly signed with the Knicks because they had better pieces, and you can see why. Dirk’s supporting cast has shrunk to Shawn Marion and Vince Carter. Yikes.

And throughout all this, the name “Dwight Howard” seems to be flying under the radar. FOR ONCE. The constant-topical center has supposedly (if I only had a million dollars for every time I said that, I’d be a multi-millionaire! Grins cheesily and gives Borat-esque thumbs up) asked to be moved to New Jersey Brooklyn. Good luck Dwight. After Joe Johnson and his contract (which, by the way, is so big that he had to check it on the flight up to Brooklyn) were acquired, and along with the long-term buildup of Gerald Wallace’s shiny new deal, there isn’t a whole lot of cap room left for you. The Nets do have Brook Lopez, Kris Humphries and MarShon Brooks, who all together almost add up to Howard’s salary. However, I’m not so sure that the Magic should make that move.

 Let the financial finagling continue.

Rashard Lewis: You See Contractual Albatross, I See Potential Gold Mine

If I asked you who the highest paid player in the entire NBA is you’d probably rattle off answers like LeBron, Kobe Bryant, Derrick Rose or the ghost of Gilbert Arenas’ contract. But no, in fact it is former Seattle SuperSonic great Rashard Lewis.

Yes, Rashard Lewis is being paid 22.7 million dollars next year. What makes it even more perplexing is that he plays for the Washington Wizards, a team that doesn’t really need him and should be angling every asset on their roster towards youth.

Which is what they might be doing with Lewis.

Maybe Ernie Grunfeld and friends were being smart when they didn’t use the amnesty provision on Lewis. Maybe they’ll look like complete geniuses for not doing it. After all, he could turn into the next Tracy McGrady.

T-Mac was dealt in a three-team mess with the Knicks and Kings from the Rockets to New York. Houston also gave up Carl Landry and Joey Dorsey and in return picked up Jordan Hill, a couple first round picks and the right to pay Jared Jeffries checks.

Not too bad right?

Now if you’re Washington, you already have a star player and team “Atlas” of sorts in John Wall. He’s the star; he’s the present and future face of the franchise.  You already have a very good center in this league in Nene. And you have a bunch of youth, which is never bad. Some of it will pan out and some of it won’t, but it’s better than trotting out declining vets with bloated contracts.

Going on my theory of throwing almost a dozen young players at the court and seeing which ones stick, it wouldn’t be bad if Washington had more of them to throw at the court.

Now, McGrady was moved to New York for the sole intent of clearing cap space to bring in a max free agent(s). Which ended up being Amare and money to throw at Carmelo after they were robbed by the Nuggets and left with Anthony. The point here is that Tracy McGrady was moved so the team could get under the cap so they could go after a max-contract free agent. It’s not as if there aren’t any potential big-name free agents hitting the market soon. Well, except some guy named Dwight Howard. Maybe you’ve heard of him.

Again the point is that normally teams wouldn’t go rushing out to get an overpaid player whose contract is north of 20 million as a rental, but that is something that might become a reality here.

The big, grand finale-ish, maybe-wrapping-up-point-but-probably-not is that the Wizards are in a prime position to move Lewis to a team who would like to clear cap space for Howard.

These would be teams like the Lakers, Mavericks and Nets.

LA isn’t going to do anything brash and dump Pau Gasol for Lewis, but it wouldn’t surprise me to see them pick him up for the sole purpose of clearing cap space. I’m sure LA would love to be rid of Metta World Peace, Josh “McBobs” McRoberts and Steve Blake’s collective contracts, however, the Wizards aren’t going to make that trade unless David Stern threatens to move them to Omaha. Again, a completely viable option. I would not put it past him. Next thing you know the Magic and Suns will be playing in the Dakotas. All because he likes “small markets”.

Dallas could conceivably deal Shawn Marion, Brendan Haywood and Vince Carter’s unguaranteed contract to Washington, though while Marion would help  Washington a lot at the 2 and 3 as well as providing… You know what? A John Wall, Nene, Marion, Jordan Crawford and Jan Vesely starting five would be pretty fun to watch.

The only thing that really prevents the previous trade from happening is Brendan Haywood’s supersized, bloated, terrible, overkill contract. Feel free to add any adjectives that I might have missed there. Maybe it could happen if the Wizards forced the Mavs to take Andray Blatche back. Not sure if Dallas would do that.

Another scenario, this assuming Lamar Odom’s contract isn’t bought out, sees Dallas moving Odom, Marion and Carter for Lewis. Not sure if the Mavs would sacrifice that much wing depth, but to Deron Williams or Dwight Howard, I’d do it.

The trade machine makes it a bit difficult to trade with the newly dubbed Brooklyn Nets seeing as almost all of their contracts are expiring.  Still, Lewis to New Jersey for anyone but Deron Williams, Gerald Wallace, Kris Humphries, MarShon Brooks, Brook Lopez or Gerald Green makes sense. I realize that  I named almost half the roster there, still those guys are likely safe unless Howard comes to Brooklyn. In that case Lopez would be available.

The point here is that Rashard Lewis and his contract very well could be one of the more sought after commodities on the trade front. He’s gone from maybe the least desirable asset to maybe the most desirable one.