Without a playoff series to care about, Lakers fans have spent the first few weeks of the playoffs dreaming up scenarios based on about comments Mitch Kupchak made to reporters after their season ended. According to Kupchak, the team is open to the possibility of trading their lottery pick in the upcoming draft. Even though the idea had been brought up all season long, this was the first time someone from the front office was willing to go on record with it.
The name that seems to be mentioned most often when it comes to the Lakers and potential targets is Minnesota Timberwolves forward Kevin Love. There are some who believe that it’s not a question of if, but when, Love will become a Laker. You might even say he was the inspiration for the Twitter hashtag, #FutureLaker.
Kupchak’s comments, combined with the retirement of Timberwolves head coach Rick Adelman, have only helped fuel the speculation, even if one has very little to do with the other. Perhaps there’s a theory that the Timberwolves are starting over again and Love won’t have the patience for it. Adelman was his fourth coach in only six seasons since he was drafted.
With only one guaranteed season left on Love’s current deal, the Timberwolves have a few options. If Love seems to be leaning towards leaving, it might be in their best interest to move him this summer rather than risk losing him for nothing in 2015. That isn’t the part of the story that’s hard to believe. The part that many Lakers fans seem to have a tough time understanding is that it would require something just shy of a miracle for their favorite team to acquire him via trade.
I can’t blame the people who think Love joining the Lakers, whether it be via trade or free agency, is a foregone conclusion. It’s been fed to us by various well-respected members of the local and national media for more than a year. It’s no secret that Love was born in Santa Monica, attended UCLA, and is dating actress Cody Horn. It’s also not news that his dad played 83 games for the Lakers over two seasons in the 70s (coincidentally, one of those was the last Laker team to lose 50 games before this year).
What’s rarely mentioned is that Love’s family moved to Oregon when he was only a year old and he spent just one season at UCLA before declaring for the NBA Draft. So even though he has ties to the area, he’d be the first to tell you those ties are greatly exaggerated. In other words, none of those ties supercede Love’s desire to do something he has yet to do in six seasons in Minnesota — make the playoffs, specifically to compete for a title.
There is nothing about this current Lakers team that should have anyone believing that they’re just a Kevin Love acquisition from competing for a championship. The Timberwolves finished this past season 40-42, nine games back of the final playoff spot in the Western Conference. The Lakers finished the season 27-55, 13 games behind Love’s Timberwolves. You don’t need me to tell you. Here’s what Love told GQ just last month:
“People think it’s so far-fetched that I would stay in Minnesota,” he says. “And I’m not sh—ing on the Lakers, but we have the better team, the better foundation. I’m having fun.”
The only way that Love can become a Laker before he hits free agency is if Minnesota decided to trade him to the Lakers. Therein lies the problem. If you’re Minnesota, what would you be looking to get in return for Love? Maybe a couple of first-round picks, perhaps one or two young players still on rookie contracts, and maybe a team that willing to take back one or two bad contracts and provide them with cap relief.
Lakers GM Mitch Kupchak On NBA Draft, No. 1 Pick And Trading The Pick