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Carmelo Anthony is the guy, of course, but fast forward a year and we could be talking about Kevin Love. In other words, what the Knicks are about to go through with Anthony is what the Wolves could very well go through with Love if they don't trade him this summer.
Love, like Anthony this year, has an opt-out next year. The Knicks begged Anthony to opt back in and delay his free agency, but the losing and the opportunity to play elsewhere made it too hard for Melo to pass up.
So now the Knicks are either going to flat-out lose him for nothing if he signs with another team or take back a hot load of garbage in a sign and trade if that's what both sides agree is best.
The Knicks felt it was worth the risk to get to that point, and to be fair the Knicks won 54 games and their division in 2012-13. They figured they would keep rising and Melo would want to stay; instead, the bounced back to 37 wins, and now he wants out.
The Wolves, too, are coming off their most successful season in a long time -- albeit modest success with 40 victories. The smart money still says they deal Love this summer, and possibly very soon. Interestingly enough, Anthony's decision to opt-out, hardly unexpected but now official, crowds the market a little and might distract some teams who had interest in acquiring Love (like Chicago and the Lakers, to name two).
Or the Wolves could roll the dice and hope, somehow, that Love changes his mind and wants to stay beyond this coming season. Those odds are remote, and as the Knicks are finding out now, the possibility of a player walking away for nothing can set a franchise back even more than dealing a star player.
Golden State has reportedly relented on including Klay Thompson in a deal with the Wolves for Kevin Love, which could be a key to unlocking a trade.
Thompson and David Lee are the two names most frequently mentioned, though we have to imagine the Wolves would be after one more asset in return.
Regardless, the question we have is this: should Thompson be considered a good enough player to be the centerpiece in a deal?
At first pass, we enthusiastically answered "yes." He's young, he shoots lights out, and he figures to improve. That's the type of player the Wolves should want to add to their core.
But while he is under team control for two more seasons (final year of rookie deal plus one qualifying offer season) at a very reasonable price, he figures to get expensive quickly after that. He could be a max-offer player, or at least think he is.
That's a lot of money for a player that doesn't fare too kindly in advanced stats -- even the simple ones like Player Efficiency Rating.
Then again, this could be the best offer the Wolves get, if indeed the pieces fall into place. What to do?
OK, yes, the obvious answer is to that headline question is they were all either drafted by the Wolves (O.J. Mayo), played for the Wolves (Darko Milicic and Michael Beasley), or both (Ricky Rubio).
The deeper trivia cut is that all four of them made ESPN.com's list of the top 25 draft prospects since 2000.
Darko checks in at No. 6, Rubio at No. 14, Beasley at No. 17 and Mayo at No. 19.
This is not a list, obviously, of who panned out ... it's a list of who was regarded the highest coming out of the draft. It's interesting to note Kevin Love does not crack the list -- nor do a lot of other players the Wolves drafted very high (like, say, Derrick Williams and Wes Johnson).
You'll need Insider access to see the entire list, but it's worthwhile as far as lists go.
It also gave us the excuse to create that image.
We're only nine days away from the NBA draft, which is going to sneak up on us FAST considering all the World Cup fun going on (particularly since the U.S. plays Germany on June 26, same day as the draft).
Are you curious what the Wolves are going to do? So are we. While the biggest decision is still what to do about Kevin Love, that No. 13 pick is still a potentially important piece. Chad Ford from ESPN.com released his latest mock draft, which once again shows Minnesota taking Michigan guard Nik Stauskas. A couple mocks ago it was Michigan State's Adreian Payne, who was here recently for a workout. Either player could help immediately next season. Here is Ford on the Wolves and Stauskas:
The Wolves, as we discussed, are talking trade now with a number of teams. With Kevin Love threatening to leave next year, they have to do something. We discussed the Boston Celtics scenario above. The Sacramento Kings, Chicago Bulls, Houston Rockets and Golden State Warriors also have been strong suitors. However, if they keep their pick and Stauskas is on the board here, I'm not sure how they pass. It's possible he might be. He sprained his shoulder about a week ago and had to cancel workouts last week. He worked out last week in Boston and Los Angeles, but the likelihood he goes six or seven is very slim. If Stauskas is gone, James Young, Rodney Hood and Adreian Payne are two other players getting long looks here.
By now, you're almost certainly aware of Kevin Love's special field trip to Boston a couple weekends ago. You've also heard the sound bites from his appearance Wednesday on ESPN's SportsNation.
But that's not the end of the Kevin Love trade speculation, nor is it the end of what he has been saying lately. Let's take a quick spin, because as a great columnist once told us, "There's a lot of stuff on that Internet."
*A bunch of kids got to interview Love, and we finally saw him asked some tough questions and with his guard down a little. He was asked how it feels to try to be "trapped" by other teams before his contract expires -- the original line of questioning was about a video game in which that's a thing -- and Love had this to say: "It's a humbling experience. It's an honor to try to be trapped by other teams. ... You just have to roll with the punches and hope you end up on the right one."
*Love doesn't think trade rumors about him going to Cleveland are off-base. He told The Big Lead as much in response to a question about trade rumors: "I try not to read it. A lot of it is brought to my attention through outside sources, sometimes twitter. But like most people, I need to be conscious of my image and try to roll with the punches. I know that’s a generic answer. I don’t think the Cleveland [trade rumors] are outlandish at all. They have a great young foundation."
*The Rockets reportedly don't think they have enough assets to acquire Love.
Keep all of this in mind as we move toward the inevitable Love trade.
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