To recap recent developments in the Kevin Love saga:
The owner of the Minneapolis Star Tribune leaked to the paper’s prime competitor the news that the star player for the NBA team he owns indeed will be traded, even though the NBA, which has punished the owner before for breaking rules, forbids confirmation of this deal at this point.
Now the Star Tribune and the Timberwolves can commiserate, and agree: It’s good to be in competition with Glen Taylor.
That the Wolves would trade Love to the Cleveland Cavaliers has seemed likely for weeks. Now that we know how the mystery is going to end, we can better guess who the winners and losers will be.
Winner: Kevin Love.
In Minnesota, he was asked to elevate a horrid franchise, and was tainted by its failures.
Loser: Kevin Love.
Playing with LeBron James and Kyrie Irving, he no longer will be allowed to act like the put-upon, lonely star. He will be treated like Earnest Byner if he fails to hustle back on defense, or if his bleating to the refs costs his team a basket. If the Cavs fail, it will be Love’s fault.
Winner: David Blatt
He’s a brilliant coach who, in his first year in the NBA, will have a point guard who can break down a defense, a power forward who can shoot three-pointers and lead the league in rebounding, and the best player in the game.
Loser: Flip Saunders
During the season in which he will turn 60, Flip will have to coach a rebuilding team in a league that has left his old offensive philosophies behind.
Winner: Dan Gilbert
The Cavaliers owner benefited from James’ stardom, savagely criticized James’ departure, and now is benefitting from James’ newfound maturity. He has done nothing to earn James’ presence, and yet has it anyway.
Loser: Glen Taylor
When Love departs, Taylor will have lost both of the great players in franchise history, Kevin Garnett and Love, because of his organization’s inability to build competitive teams around them.
Winner: Kyrie Irving
With defenses stretched to cover James and Love, Irving will have an open lane in which to drive. And when he kicks the ball out for a Love or James jumper, his assist totals will skyrocket.
Loser: Ricky Rubio
He is a pass-first point guard without a star to pass to. Andrew Wiggins and Zach Levine are talented and can run the floor, but in the halfcourt, defenses are going to dare Rubio to shoot, and he has yet to prove that he can make outside shots with regularity.
Cleveland sports fans have become the biggest whiners in the country since the Red Sox started winning championships. They may stop anytime now.
They have James. They have the spectacle that is Johnny Manziel. They are receiving Love. Their basketball team will be compelling entertainment no matter where they finish in the standings or playoffs.
This will remain an underrated basketball market as long as the Wolves continue to crush hopes and ‘‘build’’ for the ‘‘future.’’
Winner: Zach LaVine
If he were a raw rookie on a team trying to win right away, he might get buried on the bench. On a rebuilding team, he should be force-fed minutes and allowed to learn from his mistakes.
Loser: Andrew Wiggins
He thought he would be able to learn how to play, and win, next to the best player and most unselfish superstar in the game. Instead, he’ll face pressure to become a superstar himself for a franchise that rarely succeeds even when it has one.
Winner: The Western Conference
Instead of the Wolves providing occasional resistance for the top-heavy West, Minnesota will again offer only weather as a competitive challenge to visiting teams.
Loser: The Eastern Conference
The Cavaliers could easily become the best team in the East. With Paul George’s injury, perhaps only the Bulls offer a sturdy roadblock.
You might notice that most of the losers are employed by the Timberwolves.
The next bit of information Taylor should leak is how many years this three-year rebuilding plan will take.