Let’s face it, this subject was going to be brought up at some point after the 2012 regular season.
After missing the playoffs yet again, the Minnesota Timberwolves are still looking for answers to help turn around the franchise.
Simmons believes the Timberwolves will inevitably trade star power forward Kevin Love—possibly as early as this summer—and suggests the team would be better off building a team around point guard Ricky Rubio and center Nikola Pekovic.
Here are some of Simmons’ thoughts:
If we’re measuring players by trade value, we’re really measuring them by the probability that they’d ever be traded. And Kevin Love WILL be traded. It’s inevitable. It might happen this summer, it might happen during next season, but it’s going to happen.
What should you do if you’re Minnesota? If you’re smart, you’d build around Rubio (about to get an extension), Pekovic (about to get paid) and whatever you can get for Kevin Love. The blueprint: In February 2011, the Jazz shrewdly dealt Deron Williams 17 months before he could bolt Utah for a high lottery pick (Derrick Favors) and a future lottery pick (that became no. 3 overall: Enes Kanter), maximizing any and all leverage they had.
There most certainly will be some sort of major change next season, but trading Love is not the slam dunk idea Simmons makes it out to be. This franchise owes it to the fanbase to find a way to build a team around Rubio and Love, at least to see if this tandem can be done. Fans saw a glimpse of what could be during Rubio’s rookie year before he went down with a serious knee injury, which resulted in the team spiraling out of contention.
Due to bad luck and injuries, the pieces to the puzzle were not there in 2012. Love missed most of the season and Rubio was coming back from a serious knee injury. The healthy return of Rubio and Love, along with some changes in the roster around them, is the right answer—at least the answer that is deserving of a chance.