As the Kevin Love sweepstakes start to heat up, the Lakers are a team that has been heavily linked to the All-Star power forward for the last few years with many executives reportedly saying that Los Angeles is the likeliest of destination when the smoke clears.
Love is not eligible to become a free agent until 2015, but the latest reports say that Love’s representatives have told the Minnesota Timberwolves that he will not re-sign with the team if he opts out in 2015, speeding up the process of Love’s eventual exit.
That is unfortunately bad news for the Lakers which have limited resources this off-season outside of the #7 pick in the NBA draft and ample cap space. The only players currently under contract are Kobe Bryant, Steve Nash, and Robert Sacre.
The purple and gold will continue to make a push to acquire Love, but they will need to get creative. While three-team deals are hard to make, that is the best option for the Lakers to get a deal done.
A plausible trade partner could be that of the Detroit Pistons. Here is the trade idea (please note this would be main part of the deal):
Lakers receive: Kevin Love
Pistons receive: 7th pick in NBA Draft (LA would select player for Detroit in draft)
T’Wolves receive: Greg Monroe (Sign & Trade)
As the Stan Van Gundy era begins in Detroit, a slight rebuild is certainly in the cards. The question is if the Pistons will bring back Monroe or let him go in the offseason. If it decides to go with the latter, it could very well look for sign-and-trade offers that will bring back a piece or two.
The Pistons lost its draft pick after falling in the lottery. The pick was sent to the Charlotte Hornets in the Ben Gordon trade as top-8 protected, so when it dropped to ninth, the pick went back to Charlotte. Acquiring a lottery pick would be a nice coup for Van Gundy and the Pistons as they move forward.
For the T’Wolves, losing Love will hurt, as you don’t replace a player like him. With Monroe, you are bringing in a 23-year old power forward that averages 14 points and 9 rebounds in four seasons.
After years of mediocrity and lottery appearances, it is not unreasonable to think that Minnesota hopes to bring a player in which helps the team move forward, instead of draft picks that could take a few seasons to develop. With players like Nikola Pekovic, Ricky Rubio, and Kevin Martin in place, becoming a playoff team is not too far off. Adding Monroe to the mix might be the best return in terms of player quality and impact.
The key to the trade lies with Monroe. If the Pistons decide against bringing back the 6’11 forward, what will Monroe’s motivations be in free agency? At such a young age, it could very well be going to the team that will give him the most money. If that is the case, a sign-and-trade deal to the T’Wolves would be the best option.
Finally, for the Lakers, adding Love is essential. There are plenty of people opposed to the idea of trading this year’s draft pick, but when you can acquire a 25-year-old All-Star, it is a no-brainer.
With Kobe on the books for two more years and not wanting to be part of a rebuild, adding Love would appease Kobe. The Lakers’ seventh pick could net forwards Aaron Gordon, Julius Randle, or Noah Vonleh; and while they all have nice potential, will they ever average 26 points and 12 rebounds like Love did this past season? With Love, teams know what they are getting, which cannot be said about draft prospects regardless of how great their scouting reports look.
The Lakers have never been about building for the future, opting for a more ‘win now’ mentality. Trading the lottery pick to acquire Love would only mean the franchise is staying true to form.