NBA champion and five time all-star Kevin Love is rumoured to be on the trade block and would prefer to play for the Portland Trail Blazers. However, the Blazers should be wary of a trade for Love.
Over the weekend, ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski reported that the Cleveland Cavaliers were prepared to listen to trade offers for Kevin Love. Tuesday, the Ringer’s Kevin O’Connor dropped the news that, according to multiple league sources, Kevin Love would prefer to play for his hometown Portland Trail Blazers. This sparked conversation, debate, and even more rumors. However, there are three clear reasons why the Blazers should shy away from pulling the trigger on a trade for Love.
First, let me be clear. Do I want to see Kevin Love in a Blazer uniform? Yes. I would LOVE it, no pun intended. Does Kevin Love have the best style in the NBA? Possibly so. Do the Blazers need reinforcements in the frontcourt? Again, yes. But it doesn’t make sense from a basketball standpoint.
It’s not breaking news to state the Blazers are struggling defensively. They currently have the 22nd best defensive rating in the league. So far this season, Kevin Love’s individual defensive rating is no better than the Blazers team rating. Defensively, Kevin Love is not the player who can fix the Blazers dismal start to the season.
Further, Kevin Love and Carmelo Anthony play the same position. It would be tough to move Anthony to small forward and envisioning Anthony and Love playing next to each other on defense is not the prettiest sight. Carmelo has been a blessing to the Blazers, and has proven one of the most successful in-season free agent signings of the last decade, so let’s not mess with something that is already working so well.
Secondly, a move for Kevin Love would come with serious financial repercussions. Over the next three seasons, Love is owed just north of $91 million. After signing Damian Lillard and CJ McCollum to new extensions this past summer, the Blazers would have no salary wiggle room to build out a complete roster if Love was brought in. Without cap space to sign role players, building a serious contending roster would be nearly impossible.
A few further questions must be asked in regards to Love’s financial impact. Is Kevin Love really worth over $90 million? Is his contract truly his market value? In other words, if Kevin Love was a free agent this season, would the Blazers be willing to pay him $30 million per year? To be quite honest, I am not sure how I would answer each of those questions. What the important point is, is that Neil Olshey and the Blazers decision makers must think long and hard about those very questions before they spark any trade conversations with the Cavaliers.
Lastly, the point must be made that the Blazers true future lies with the young players the team already has. A trade for Love would inevitably include one or more of the Blazers young players. The Blazers likely won’t offer Anfernee Simons in a potential trade with the Cavs. Nassir Little has shown energy, excitement, and promise and may be the long-term answer for the Blazers defensive woes. Others like Skal Labissiere and Gary Trent Jr. could still develop into important pieces for the Blazers.
While those players could prove useful in the years to come, the biggest reason to defer on a trade for Love with regard for the young players would be the belief that Zach Collins will continue blossoming into a star. The Blazers see Collins as the long-term power forward option in their pursuit of a championship.
Unfortunately, we were robbed of Zach Collins this season, but the Blazers remain hopeful that Collins can become his own version of the potential Trail Blazers trade targets. Albeit, that version may not possess the superior perimeter shooting skill Love has, but Collins makes up for it with a strong defensive personality.
In reality, pulling the trigger on a trade for Love raises this Blazers teams’ current ceiling. However, it doesn’t make a whole lot of sense in the long-term because of the on-court fit, the contract, and the young players currently on the roster. It pains me to say it, but making a move for Love will handcuff the Blazers future. Neil Olshey, do not make that phone call.
(All stats via NBA.com)