A lot of the Love trade talk has centred around Boston. The Dunkyard looks at an alternative.
LeBron has done everything he can to massage Kevin Love’s ego and it simply hasn’t worked.
If, like me, you’ve taken in a dozen or two Cleveland games this season, then you’ve also probably lost count as to the number of times Love’s blown a defensive rotation or gotten abused down low – with LeBron dropping his shit each time. It’s time to admit defeat.
Cleveland desperately needs to upgrade its defence, which was ranked 10th (its offense was 3rd) and a Love for Howard trade could go a long way to doing this. A front line rotation of Howard-Thompson-LeBron – together with the lineup combinations it would open – would be formidable defensively.
Cleveland also doesn’t need Love’s offensive talents – it has LeBron and Irving (and a bunch of three point shooters). It can easily live without Love and it’s not as if Howard is useless on offense either. In fact, this season, Love’s offensive rating was 112 (TS 55.3%) compared to Howard’s 111 (TS 60.4%).
Lastly, with this trade, Cleveland would turn Love’s 5 year max contract into Howard’s expiring contract. Assuming he opts in to the final year of his contract (he has until 29 June 2016 to opt out), ‘contract-year Dwight’ could do some good things for Cleveland.
If things go pear shaped and Howard stinks, then Cleveland gets a do-over at the end of the season. With LeBron and Irving around, they’ll have no problems attracting a quality free agent to fill the void.
Houston doesn’t need Howard – it has Capela who already replicates a lot of what Howard does and who will presumably get better. What Houston needs is a second banana on offense. Who better than Kevin Love? (Bearing in mind Howard’s shitty trade value).
Given that Howard could walk for nothing, getting Love is really about the best it can hope for. Of course, it comes with the risk that the remaining 4 years of his contract become a major salary cap albatross.
The alternative is to simply let Howard walk and keep living with him until then. However, top free agents aren’t exactly queuing up to play with Harden’s defence.
You can see on his miserable face that Love hates being a third banana.
At Minnesota, Love’s usage rate was consistently around 29%. Since joining Cleveland, his usage rate has dropped into the low 20s. Standing on the three point line and feeding off LeBron and Irving’s scraps just isn’t his game.
Love needs to be at least a second banana or a great stats-shit team leader. It’s his destiny and it will make him whole again to score 25 points a game.
‘Best player on a championship calibre team’ Dwight was farted out somewhere between Orlando and Los Angeles. ‘Second-banana on a contender’ Dwight has also been gone for some time.
Unlike Houston, Cleveland can offer Howard his rightful place as third banana on a championship team.
Boston doesn’t really have anything that really moves the needle for Cleveland.
That said, I would cheerfully trade Love for Boston’s two Brooklyn picks (ok ok, one Brooklyn pick), Jae Crowder and Amir Johnson. That said, Cleveland probably wouldn’t do this as it wants to win now and Danny Ainge would almost certainly hang up the phone after ‘Brooklyn pick’ anyway.
As for any alternative deals, Ainge is about the last GM a win-now team like Cleveland should be pitting its wits against. In fact, I’d be surprised if Ainge wanted Love anyway.