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As we mentioned last week, we are only at the cusp of speculation about Kevin Love's future. The latest round comes from Grantland's Bill Simmons, who takes a peek at four possible Love destinations and -- SURPRISE -- concludes that his beloved Celtics just might be a player in the sweepstakes.
Shocking. Arrogant. But not altogether wrong, either, because Simmons knows a lot about hoops even if his green goggles get in the way sometimes.
Simmons is convinced that the time to trade Love is this coming offseason if the Wolves are going to do it. We agree with that. You don't take something like that up to next year's trading deadline. You take the temperature on Love this offseason, and you find out where he really stands. If he makes it clear that he is opting out, you seek out the best deal.
Simmons concludes that four possible trade partners are: the Suns, Bulls, Lakers and Celtics. And he concludes that the Celtics potentially have the most to offer. The problem with all the deals is that they are mostly about future assets and not existing ones. Selling a Wolves fan base on another rebuilding project is going to be tough. Very tough.
That said, here is what he says about the Celtics:
Let’s say the Celtics lose the 2014 lottery and end up with a pick between no. 3 and no. 5. They could send that pick to Minny along with Atlanta’s first-rounder (probably ending up in the 13-to-18 range) and their 2015 Clippers pick for Love. And they could throw in Brandon Bass and Keith Bogans’s immediately waivable deal to make the contracts work. Oh, and if Minnesota were more interested in one or more of those future Brooklyn picks that Boston owns (unprotected in 2016 and 2018, pick swap in 2017), the Celts could discuss that, too. Remember, they have a WAR CHEST of picks: 10 in five years.
STOP CALLING IT MINNY. NOBODY REASONABLE CALLS IT MINNY.
In the end, would it be more painful to make another deal with the Celtics (and risk watching another Kevin win a championship in Boston) or just let Love walk after next season if that's his decision?
Per USA Today, it sounds as though former Minnesota prep standout, ex-Gopher (though he didn't play a game here) and former Iowa State star Royce White is going to sign soon with Sacramento:
The Sacramento Kings recently worked out 22-year-old forward and mental health advocate Royce White and are likely to sign him to a 10-day contract, two people with knowledge of the situation told USA TODAY Sports.
The people spoke on the condition of anonymity because no deal had yet been finalized.
This would be interesting regardless, but the Wolves' next game on their West Coast trip happens to be in Sacramento on Saturday. It's possible, USA Today reports, that the deal won't happen until next week.
We can't remember a night like Tuesday, when the Gophers won a track meet against Iowa (preferring to finish the race as the tortoise instead of the hare, but more on that later) and the Wolves came back to win at Phoenix. Both victories were largely influenced by two players -- redshirt freshman Charles Buggs for the Gophers and rookie Shabazz Muhammad for the Wolves -- who have typically only seen playing time in mop-up duty this season. Both had breakout games that, while they might not be indicative of greatness to come, at the very least rescued their teams in varying degrees of must-win games.
First, Buggs: He had played exactly 21 minutes this season -- 2 in Big Ten play -- before Tuesday. He had attempted three shots, making two. But with Oto Osenieks out with a knee injury and two bigs in foul trouble, Buggs was the spark the Gophers needed. He had 11 of his career-high 13 points in the first half, looking smooth and confident shooting from long distance. His three-pointer late in the half made it 45-41 Gophers and helped them take a halftime lead. His only bucket in the second half came at a critical time. A 5-0 run had helped surging Iowa get within 68-66, but his steal and layup ignited a 12-1 run that proved essential. That put Minnesota ahead 80-67. The Gophers did not make a field goal the rest of the game -- the final 8:30 -- but they made 15 free throws and never let Iowa reclaim the lead in a 95-89 victory. There was wisdom in the slowdown approach the Gophers took on a lot of possessions after taking that 13-point lead, but there is also danger in choking off your own momentum. It almost cost them on Tuesday, but huge performances by Austin Hollins, DeAndre Mathiue and the unlikeliest hero in Buggs were enough to get a MUST-HAVE victory. It moves the Gophers' conference record to 7-9, with three very good Big Ten wins (Ohio State, Wisconsin and Iowa). An upset win at Michigan and a home win over Penn State to close the season would seal an NCAA bid. A competitive loss to Michigan, a win over Penn State and at least one win in the Big Ten Tourney would at least give Minnesota (which bumped up to No. 43 in the RPI with last night's win) a reasonable shot at making the Big Dance. Anything short of that would be precarious at best in our minds. But that Iowa win was one they had to have.
Next, Bazzy: He's played just 140 minutes for the Wolves this season, but a combination of injuries and him forcing the issue with good work in practice have given him a little more run lately. He has 89 of those minutes in February, including 57 in his last three games. Tuesday was easily his most complete game as an NBA player -- 8 for 13 from the floor, six rebounds, a pair of steals and 20 must-have points in a 110-101 victory over Phoenix. The Wolves' playoff hopes are pretty much dangling by a thread, but they would have been far more precarious without a win over the Suns. They are now 5.5 games behind the Suns, who occupy the No. 8 spot at 33-23 in the brutal West. They're still 4 behind ninth-seeded (and out of the playoffs) Memphis. But there are still 25 games left. A loss last night would have been a two-game swing, putting them 7.5 behind Phoenix and all but dead. Now there is a glimmer of life thanks to a monster game from Kevin Love and an the unlikely contribution from Muhammad. Most impressive was his determination. The Wolves trailed 81-75 entering the fourth quarter, which is usually a recipe for a road loss with this team. Muhammad had 10 points in the final quarter, several massive rebounds and one huge assist, dishing to Corey Brewer after fighting for an offensive rebound and setting up a layup that made it 102-97. He is a terrific rebounder for his size, with 19 in his last three games over a total of 57 minutes. He presents matchup problems as a post-up option against certain wings/guards because of his strength. And if he stays within himself, as Rick Adelman has preached, he can help.
Like we noted before, none of this guarantees anything about what Buggs, the Gophers, Muhammad or the Wolves will do for the rest of the season. But for one night at least, we were treated to two massive pleasant surprises. We'll take what we can get.
In a little GQ feature about Kevin Love -- most of it was about his beard and his hair -- we find this little nugget about his opt-out clause after the 2014-15 season and his potential to stay in Minnesota:
Now that he looks like a leading man—and with free agency looming as an option at the end of next season, and the Wolves not exactly killing it on the court—everyone assumes that his next big move is to Los Angeles. He's dating actress Cody Horn, a California girl, and his Beach Boy uncle, Mike, co-wrote “California Girls.”
So fess up, Kev: You're gone, right? “People think it's so far-fetched that I would stay in Minnesota,” he says. “And I'm not [redacted] on the Lakers, but we have the better team, the better foundation. I'm having fun.”
Note the present tense.
Make of that what you will. The summer of 2015 is still a ways out there. But file that quote away ...
As such, Wolves fans, take heart in Simmons' list of the 30 worst contracts in the NBA. These are the kinds of deals the Wolves used to hand out with alarming frequency. We're thinking of you, Darko, And you, Mike James. And especially you, secret Joe Smith deal.
A guy the Wolves originally drafted and reportedly went after in the offseason (O.J. Mayo) makes the list at No. 15 after he signed with the Bucks for three years and $24 million.
But nobody on the current Minnesota roster cracks the list.
The top five (meaning the worst): Deron Williams, Joe Johnson, Andrea Bargnani, Gerald Wallace and Amar'e Stoudemire.
That said, we will leave you this question for the comments: What is the worst contract on the Wolves?
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