Kevin Love will be this summer’s NBA free agent appetizer, with Carmelo Anthony being the main course in July.
Love, who turns 26 in September, is coming off arguably his best season as a pro: 26.1 points per game, 12.5 rebounds per game and a career-high 4.4 assists per game. He put up similar numbers during the strike-shortened 2011-2012 season. The common thread between those campaigns, and his entire career? He’s never been to the playoffs.
And even though the advanced stats crowd loved Minnesota last season, the Timberwolves didn’t sniff the playoffs. Despite a prolific offense, Minnesota didn’t bother playing defense, and finished two games under .500, 10th in the West, nine games behind the 8-seed (Dallas).
Love can explore free agency in 2015, and has reportedly let it be known to Minnesota brass that he wants out, preferably before then. He’s doing them a favor – hey, I’m not staying, so trade me now or lose me for nothing. There are scenarios where Love could stay – maybe Minnesota gets lucky in the Tuesday draft lottery – but all of them seem extremely far-fetched given the strength of the West, and the desire for contenders to add a superstar the way Miami created a Big 3 and won back-to-back titles.
How do the Knicks factor into this?
Carmelo Anthony is the guy they want to continue to build around. He’s their best (only?) player, and back in November, Adrian Wojnarowski reported New York’s plan to retain Melo was selling him on delivering Love in 2015. A lot has happened since November: The Knicks were among the dregs in the league; they fired Mike Woodson; hired Phil Jackson to be the President and were rebuffed by Steve Kerr. Now, there’s no coach and the superstar they wanted to pair with Melo could be traded by the draft.
(Minnesota’s owner, Glen Taylor, said the team won’t trade Love “by the draft” but his woebegone franchise doesn’t have a coach either, so take that for what it’s worth. Who’s taking that job without knowing Love’s status?)
New York’s nightmare scenario: Love is traded to the Warriors (a package including Klay Thopmson?) or Bulls (whatever) or Celtics (draft picks!) or Lakers (haha!) and signs a long-term deal with his new team. Then when it comes to July 1 to retain Melo, the plan centers around … what, exactly?
For someone like me who desperately wants the Knicks to press the reset button and let Melo walk or unload him for cap room and draft picks, this is tremendous! Start making calls, Phil – send Carmelo to a contender, stockpile draft picks and build the team that way. No point in getting stuck in the dreaded middle.
Related: Tyson Chandler Says Kevin Love “Can’t Play D.” Kevin Love: “F*** Him.”
Related: Kevin Love Appears to Be a Very Drained, Broken Man
Related: Carmelo Anthony Wore Top Hat and Tails, Eyeballed Rihanna at Met Gala