Feb 4, 2014; Minneapolis, MN, USA; Minnesota Timberwolves power forward Kevin Love (42) dribbles on Los Angeles Lakers forward Wesley Johnson (11) in the second quarter at Target Center. Minnesota wins 109-99. Mandatory Credit: Brad Rempel-USA TODAY Sports

The Foolishness of Aiming for Kevin Love This Summer


Among the many traditions the Lakers franchise has, one of the biggest, both literally and metaphorically, is their history of dominant big men. Really, any list of greatest big men past or present have Lakers littered all over them. George Mikan (5 titles) started the trend, Wilt Chamberlain (1 title) briefly carried the load, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (5 titles) etched his name as one of the greatest Lakers big men, Shaq (3 titles) was the largest man and personality in Laker lore, and most recently Pau Gasol (2 titles) has added his names to the rank. And even if we want to forget it, arguably the best center in the game right now, Dwight Howard, has a legacy as a Laker.

 

Oddly enough, of those six listed, one of them was homegrown (Mikan), one of them was a free agent signing (Shaq), and the other four come in blockbuster deals. Each trade (sans Dwight) led directly to title runs and each big man played an integral role in the title teams.

 

All this is necessary to know when considering the idea of trading for Kevin Love, a sentiment that is growing bigger and bigger the closer we get to the summer. Despite Love’s insistence that he doesn’t want to leave Minnesota and that Los Angeles isn’t his dream destination, Lakers fans see him as the key to their next title.

 

It’s a simply formula. Struggle a couple seasons, trade for a big man, win titles, rinse, repeat.

 

This time, that formula does not work. It’s not clear cut and dry. Trading for a big man does not instant equal a title. This time around, too much is at stake. The asking price is too high given the assets – or lack thereof – the Lakers have. This time, the circumstances aren’t so cut and dry. This time, the Lakers need to wait and let the player come to them.

 

When the Lakers brought in Gasol, they had a young team, an established coach, and seemed to be one piece short of being title contenders. When Howard joined the squad two summers ago, on paper, the Lakers had all the pieces to win a title, and if not for a slew of injuries, things would have been different. This summer, we have a back-up center, a point guard who can’t play two straight games, and a superstar guard who will have played 6 games in 18 months by next fall.

 

Bringing Love in isn’t the answer. Instead of spending what’s left of the cap room wisely on multiple players, building a deep team and using our draft pick to bring in the possible heir to the throne, we should commit $48 million to three players? And also forgo the chance to draft the next superstar?

 

Tell me if you’ve heard this scenario before. The Lakers have long targeted a big man, whose interest in them has waned. By most accounts, he’s considered the best at his position. Rumors float around that he wants to join the Lakers, but he’s never explicitly said it. Still, his team is struggling and he’s growing increasingly frustrated. With only one year remaining on his deal, many assume the Lakers to be his destination once his contract expires and his franchise has given no hints of wanting to deal him.

 

What player am I talking about? Love? Wrong. Dwight Howard. Seriously, it’s the exact same situation all over again. Did we learn nothing the first time we messed this up? We mortgaged our future (albeit selling Bynum at the perfect time) for a one-year rental that blew up in our face and left the franchise reeling. Are we prepared to do the same thing again?

 

Does Love even make the team a title contender? If we do pull a trade for him, bring back Gasol, and hope for the best with Nash while retaining the leftovers from last year’s squad, you’ll have a rotation resembling Nash-Bryant-Wes-Pau-Love with Marshall, Bazemore, and Sacre off the bench. That’s a .500 team. That’s a team as devoid of defense as this year’s squad. That’s not a team you assemble with championship on the mind.

 

You know what COULD be a title winning team? Drafting a player like Aaron Gordon this year, signing a player like Kyle Lowry or a Gordon Hayward or even a Lance Stephenson, then signing Kevin Love in 2014-15. Walking out a lineup of Lowry – Bryant – Hayward – Gordon – Love is MUCH more likely to compete for a title than the other lineup mentioned.

 

Love is a fantastic player. But why give up assets for something that could come to you for free? I’m cautiously optimistic that Kupchak and company learned their lesson with Dwight. If Love wants to be a Laker, we can sign him next year. It may not be what Kobe wants with his win-now attitude, but this franchise has to survive post-Bryant, and trading away our biggest asset in almost a decade for a player who may walk away at year’s end won’t further the franchise.

 

Rebuilding a team doesn’t happen overnight. Patience is the key. Let’s not rush into Love.

Tags: Free Agent Kevin Love Kobe Bryant Los Angeles Lakers Pau Gasol Rumors Steve Nash Trade

  • Chrmngblly

    Besides, why would any superstar want to come to the lakers? LA is 4 or 5 players from even being a contender.

    • cyborgspider

      16 Championships, the weather, the fame, the keys to the castle when Bryant goes away, a front-office who isn’t as terrible as people claim (they got Chris Paul, Nash and Howard within a two year span, players they weren’t expected to even hope of claiming. Yeah, it all blew up, but when those moves were made, fans were elated). And it’s not like 4 or 5 players are hard to come by via trades and free agency. They don’t need 4 or 5 superstars… good chemistry, right roles, and a COACH. Not as bleak as you’d think.

      • Chrmngblly

        But bleaker than you’re thinking, apparently…Even if you think you like the folks we have, a championship is more than Kobe+1. I think this is going to be a multi-step process. Who thinks we are ever going to get a pick in the lottery even this good again? I think we need to move up in the draft and grab Embiid, Exum or Wiggins. We can’t settle for some later OK guy with our needs.

        • cyborgspider

          Well, my comment was in response to “why would any superstar come to the Lakers”. I’m not saying the Lakers don’t have work ahead of them, and Kobe+1 certainly isn’t the answer, but your comment made it seem like the Lakers are now a barren wasteland, devoid of any joy or hope. A couple seasons of bad luck and heartache hasn’t turned the Lakers into Sacramento or the Bucks, omg they have it bad.

          Perhaps I didn’t understand the context of your point. Instead of relying on free agents, build through the draft. Build slowly, build right. If the Lakers take a “just buy your team” approach, it won’t work because they’re awful right now and no one will come. Whatever path they choose, my hope is they just get a new coach and culture in place because I believe that’s square one.

          “Hi [Carmelo][Kevin][Lebron], we want you to represent the purple and gold. Here’s a max contract and pen, just sign on the dotted line”.

          “Who’s my coach?”

          “Uh, Mike D’Antoni. Yeah. It’s going to be Showtime 2.0, and you’re the main att… wait, why are you laughing? Hold on, don’t walk away, please, stop…”

          [door shuts. Jim Buss frantically picks up phone] “Quick, get me the billboard guys again. Yeah, but this time it says #pleasecome on it”… brrr

          • Chrmngblly

            You can read good.

            The Lakers ARE a barren wasteland, devoid of practically all resources and any reason for joy or hope. You must know that the Lakers traded away 4 of their next few years’ 1st round draft choices and at least 2 of their 2nd round picks in the wild Howard and Nash fiascos, don’t you? It is not really possible for the Lakers to rebuild through the draft as another team might. So we have to go out and buy a team to go with Kobe and our one good draft choice this year.

            Other losses: We lost the great Dr.Buss to cancer and Phil Jackson to our competition. These are sore losses to our FO and team mystique, even though Phil did not have a functional role in the organization. Now we have the Buss kids playing at being owners and serious executives, whose limitations have already been exposed in the CP3 debacle, the Howard botch and the Nash hail-Mary, plus the two coaching-hire master-strokes, Mike Brown and Mike D’Antoni.

            These are, indeed, sobering times. Still, it is OK to just buy our team. What we can’t do is tie our own hands with a bunch of guaranteed contracts. This Nash deal is really killing us. What we need to do is be self-aware and take care of business. The Lakers have lost their glow and we have to re-earn the high regard of the NBA at-large as an elite franchise.

            We should hire the best coach money can buy; build the best player development organization in the league and develop the finest scouting system in the world. We need to be world-class in every way there is, so that elite players want to come play for the Lakers.

            Are we doing that right now? No. We are off doing nepotism in the FO (Jim Buss is hardly a world-class basketball executive or owner.). We have a good, but second tier coach.

            What do we have going for us? The LA weather, the Hollywood mystique, the Lakers’ storied history, Mitch is world class, Kobe is world-class. Not much else.

            To be fair, we possibly have the league’s best bench players playing as starters for us right now. They all deserve a tip of the hat for holding down the fort. Several of them will start for someone else next year.

          • cyborgspider

            Ok, well I guess you’re just a glass half-empty guy and I’m a glass half-full, and leave it at that. Glad I impressed you with my good reading skills.

          • Chrmngblly

            I pointed out that we don’t HAVE any draft picks—which is why your plan can’t work. I wasn’t being mean, I was trying to be factual. The only avenue left to us is through Free Agency.

            That is not about a glass half full or half empty—it is about you being full of shit. No offense.

          • cyborgspider

            LOL “I’m not being mean” devolves to me “being full of shit”. I’m really sorry you’re such a bitter person. I think this conversation is getting lost in written form or I’m not making myself clear; I don’t have a plan, I never mentioned a plan. I assumed YOU were making the case for drafting players, so I was trying to get inline with your point-of-view (which I clearly misunderstood). I really don’t know what you think, besides utter contempt and despair for the Laker’s future. You say “our only avenue is through Free Agency” but also claim nobody would want to come here.

            I don’t know how they plan on rebuilding, and I don’t have the cap expertise or basketball knowledge to form a valid argument against you. All I’m saying, and all I referred to, was your overly pessimistic approach to the Lakers management and future. The Lakers will be fine, whether it takes one, three, or five years, and I’ll be rooting for them and talk about them with my friends and people like you regardless of their situation.

          • Chrmngblly

            Well, super-stars will not be clamoring to join the Lakers, as-is. Established stars, like Howard, will prefer teams that are just a piece away from winning it all. I agree with others who think we will need to get competitive before we can attract our superstars.

            Maybe you didn’t know that we have no draft picks of any consequence on the horizon. We don’t—and we seem to be the last franchise to realize that draft picks are important. So we may have to overpay a little for a couple role players to get us up to being competitive.

            Kendall Marshall might be teachable. He’s got some Nash-like skills. Or we could buy Lowrey.

            Young seems to be another find, but I don’t know if he’s willing to kiss Kobe’s ring or not. I think Kobe could make Young into an all star if Young can take a tip or two from the Mamba. If we draft Aaron Gordon, we won’t need Young. Can Gordon play the 2?

            Kelly? Maybe. He’s getting better. He could back up Love, if that ever happens.

            Hill/Sacre? I like having these guys around. Flush Gasol and Kaman. We need to draft Embid or Vonleh or one of the European athletic bigs for rim defense. Or we could buy Monroe, but he’s mostly a 4, isn’t he?

      • DJRoxalot

        Exactly, cyborg.

        Good story, Jacob. But, I think they need to trade for Love. There is no guarantee they sign him as a free agent. Phil might target him. Can you imagine Love in the Triangle? Nice player to build around.

        As far as this draft, Dante Exum would be perfect for the Lakers. Exum, Kobe and Love would be a nice trio to have. Kobe may have just a few seasons left but Exum and Love lays the groundwork for a solid foundation for the future.

        IMO.

  • Fern Rea

    You make some good points but the Lakers cant pass up picking up a player of the caliber of Love to keep an unproven young kid from the draft that might or might not develop.

    The Lakers also cant take the chance that Love will just sign with them next summer. That isnt guaranteed. Love might get wooed by another team and the Lakers would have wasted another year by striking out in free agency.

    I dont think this is going to happen anyway. Not because the Lakers arent willing to trade their pick, but because the Wolves wont be willing to trade Love for what the Lakers have to offer.