With Kevin Love traded, Timberwolves hoping to establish an identity

  • Article by: JERRY ZGODA , Star Tribune
  • Updated: August 24, 2014 - 7:09 AM

Seven years after they traded away a star with the same first name, the Timberwolves did so again on Saturday, finally sending away discontented Kevin Love to Cleveland in a three-way trade before he could leave.

A pre-emptive strike before Love could walk away free next summer, the deal is intended to change the identity of a franchise that hasn’t made the playoffs since that other Kevin — the one named Garnett — played at Target Center long ago.

It brings the first player selected in each of the past two NBA drafts — this summer’s No. 1 overall pick Andrew Wiggins and 2013’s Anthony Bennett — as well as Philadelphia veteran power forward Thaddeus Young and a $6-plus million trade exception the Wolves can use within the next year to add a player without salary-cap limitations.

In return, the Wolves sent Love to Cleveland, where he will play beside superstar LeBron James and pal Kyrie Irving on a team that now becomes an instant title contender, if it already wasn’t before. The Wolves also shipped to Philadelphia veteran forward Luc Mbah a Moute, Alexey Shved and Miami’s 2015 first-round pick received from the Cavaliers.

By doing so, the Wolves traded away a three-time All Star and perhaps the NBA’s most unique player while reforming their team yet again. This time, they’re doing it with youth, wild athleticism and, if you include the team’s own first-round pick Zach LaVine, four players whom President of Basketball Operations Flip Saunders believes possess the type of defensive possibilities his team badly needs.

“What I feel good about is, I didn’t know if the team had an identity,” Saunders said Saturday afternoon at Target Center after the trade was announced. “I believe now that we have taken steps to have an identity: Exciting, a team that can get up and down the floor, but what I’m most excited about is we really have four players that potentially are very good two-way players.

“In order to be successful in this league, you have to have two-way type players.”

The Wolves will introduce their three newest players at the Minnesota State Fair on Tuesday while the Cavaliers will do the same with Love in Cleveland that same afternoon.

Young introduced himself to Wolves fans with a Twitter message about the same time the trade was announced Saturday afternoon. The Wolves preferred him over a future draft pick because, at age 26 with seven NBA seasons behind him already, he’s a veteran who can step into Love’s vacant power-forward position.

“I’m ready to work and bring my hardworking attitude Philly gave me to #wolfnation,” tweeted Young, who, like Love, can opt out of the remaining two years on his contract next summer.

Saturday’s trade was announced at the end of an unusual 30-day moratorium, set in place last month after Wiggins signed his rookie contract. Essentially agreed upon weeks ago and finalized in the last few days before Saturday, the trade brings with Wiggins one of at least two “cornerstone” players Saunders said he identified as worthy in such a trade.

Golden State guard Klay Thompson is believed to be the other, but he was pulled from trade discussions in June just when it appeared the Wolves were about to strike a deal for Love, whose representatives these last four months made it clear their client didn’t intend to stay in Minnesota beyond this coming season.

Saunders invested time last season attempting to strengthen his relationship with Love in an attempt to convince him to remain a Timberwolf.

When asked Saturday if he had failed to do so, Saunders said: “One thing you can’t do in this business, you can’t fall in love with players because the dynamics change. Kevin looked and he made a decision he felt was a business decision for himself and there was a lot of factors that led into that decision, not just what happened last year.”

Love’s discontent as a Timberwolf can be traced to the team’s 2012 decision to offer a four-year contract extension when Love sought a maximum five-year deal that would have kept him obligated until 2017. Owner Glen Taylor and then-basketball boss David Kahn made that decision. Saunders wasn’t hired to replace Kahn until May 2013.

The fact the Wolves never approached the playoffs in Love’s six NBA seasons didn’t help any, either.

“Kevin is a unique player and we felt that we needed to get a unique player — or players — back in return or players,” said Saunders, who said he was willing to bring back Love as a Timberwolf to start next season. “Usually in this situation, people have gotten good players back, but maybe they’re not what you would consider a guy who has an opportunity to be a superstar-type player.”

Saunders believes Wiggins — a 19-year-old from Toronto who was considered an elite prospect well before he played one season at Kansas — is potentially that kind of player.

  • related content

  • Poll: How do you feel about Kevin Love leaving the Wolves?

    Tuesday August 26, 2014

  • Read the replay: Timberwolves Chat with Jerry Zgoda

    Tuesday October 1, 2013

    See what Jerry Zgoda and Timberwolves fans were talking about during their noon-hour Live Chat on Monday.

  • Souhan: Wolves have work to do to rebound from Kevin Love deal

    Monday August 25, 2014

    Unless Andrew Wiggins becomes a superstar on a winning team and stays with the Wolves long-term, this evokes memories of the Kevin Garnett trade that sent the team into a...

  • See Flip Saunders at the Star Tribune booth Sunday at the Fair

    Sunday August 24, 2014

    Join Wolves president of basketball operations Flip Saunders and Star Tribune beat writer Jerry Zgoda at the Minnesota State Fair for a Sunday morning chat around 11 a.m. Sunday morning.

  • Reusse: Let's appreciate Love and use respectful applause Jan. 31

    Saturday August 23, 2014

    Kevin Love made himself a terrific player and earned the Wolves a big trade return. That should be worth applause when he returns.

  • Four memorable Kevin Love games

    Saturday August 23, 2014

    remember these?Love was a stats machine with the Wolves. Here were four standout games:Nov. 12, 2010Wolves 112, New York 103:...

  • Coming and going: Stats of players in the trade

    Saturday August 23, 2014

    Here are links to the statistics of players involved in the three-team trade that will send Kevin Love to Cleveland.

  • Love trade: the details

    Saturday August 23, 2014

    The Wolves get ...#22 Andrew Wiggins: The No. 1 overall pick in this year’s NBA draft. Played one season at...

  • What fans are saying in Cleveland

    Sunday August 24, 2014

  • Minnesota Timberwolves forward Kevin Love (42) reacts with guard Wayne Ellington (22) after hitting a three point shot to win the game during the second half of their NBA basketball game against the Los Angeles Clippers, Friday, Jan. 20, 2012, in Los Angeles. The Timberwolves won 101-98. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)

  • JERRY HOLT ïjgholt@startribune.com 9/29/2008---] Timberwolves players Al Jefferson standing, Kevin Love left, Randy Foye , and Mike Miller. ORG XMIT: MIN2014082221284381

  • JERRY HOLT ïjgholt@startribune.com 9/29/2008---] Timberwolves players Al Jefferson standing, Kevin Love left, Randy Foye , and Mike Miller. ORG XMIT: MIN2014082221284381

  • JERRY HOLT ïjgholt@startribune.com 9/29/2008---] Timberwolves players Al Jefferson standing, Kevin Love left, Randy Foye , and Mike Miller. ORG XMIT: MIN2014082221284381

  • Kevin Love’s career as a member of the Timberwolves ended after six seasons, three All-Star appearances, an Olympic gold medal and zero appearances in the postseason.

  • Kevin Love’s career as a member of the Timberwolves ended after six seasons, three All-Star appearances, an Olympic gold medal and zero appearances in the postseason.

  • get related content delivered to your inbox

  • manage my email subscriptions

ADVERTISEMENT

Atlanta 7 FINAL
Pittsburgh 5
Miami 5 FINAL
St. Louis 3
Baltimore - LP: K. Gausman 4 FINAL
Detroit - WP: J. Nathan 6
Minnesota 4 FINAL
Boston 5
NY Yankees 5 FINAL
Tampa Bay 6
Philadelphia 1 FINAL
Toronto 4
Cincinnati 13 FINAL
Cleveland 2
Los Angeles 9 FINAL
Chicago WSox 6
Kansas City 3 FINAL
Seattle 0
Seattle 1 FINAL
Milwaukee 15
San Diego 3 FINAL
Arizona 3
NY Mets 8 FINAL
Washington 3
LA Angels 8 Top 9th Inning
Chicago Cubs 4
Colorado 0 Bottom 3rd Inning
Texas 0
Oakland 9:05 PM
San Francisco
Indiana 74 4th Qtr
Milwaukee 85
Pittsburgh 2 FINAL
Carolina 5
New Jersey 2 FINAL(OT)
Washington 3
Los Angeles 3 FINAL
NY Islanders 2
Arizona 4 FINAL(OT)
Buffalo 3
Anaheim 3 FINAL(OT)
Boston 2
Nashville 3 3rd Prd 6:19
Tampa Bay 2
San Jose 5 3rd Prd 5:56
Detroit 4
NY Rangers 5 3rd Prd 6:56
Ottawa 1
Florida 3 3rd Prd 6:56
Toronto 1
Montreal 1 2nd Prd 1:00
Winnipeg 4
Colorado 9:00 PM
Vancouver
Wichita State 70 FINAL
Notre Dame 81
North Carolina 72 FINAL
Wisconsin 79
Evansville 49 2nd Half 15:47
Louisiana 43
West Virginia 2 1st Half 17:48
Kentucky 2
Xavier 9:17 PM
Arizona
St Johns 55 FINAL
Villanova 63
NC State 79 FINAL
Temple 80
Missouri 55 FINAL
Michigan 65
Oral Roberts 64 FINAL
Louisiana 65
Duquesne 39 FINAL
West Virginia 60
Ole Miss 70 FINAL
Middle Tennessee 82
Northern Colorado 9:00 PM
UCLA
St Marys-CA 9:00 PM
Sacramento St
Connect with twitterConnect with facebookConnect with Google+Connect with PinterestConnect with PinterestConnect with RssfeedConnect with email newsletters

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

question of the day

Poll: What are you following most closely right now?

Weekly Question

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

 
Close