Carmelo Anthony. Dwight Howard. Chris Paul. All three of these players have one thing in common over the last several years — they have all demanded to be traded. Now with Kevin Love entering the final year of his contract, his people are prepared to demand a trade of the big man, and if the franchise does not comply, he will leave the team during the summer of 2015.
While the action of demanding a trade has been a part of the league ever since the late 1960s, it has been more prominent in the NBA during the modern era. Lately, it seems almost every time a star player is on a team that is not on top, said player pleads to be traded.
Oftentimes, as is the case with Anthony and Howard, it is done prior to or during their final season of a contract. As if the player is not being selfish enough, they demand to be placed on a championship-contending team or large market franchise such as Los Angeles or New York.
However, sometimes to move the player to one of the large market teams, either by choice of the player or the receiving franchise, there needs to be a massive contract extension set in place. This makes the process stressful on management, the player and most damaging, the team itself. As such, it is a practice that is being put to use too often in the NBA.
Kevin Love is arguably one of the best players in the NBA. This past season he averaged 26.1 ppg, 12.5 rpg and 4.4 apg. Love has never made it to the postseason, but he should not be giving up on the Timberwolves quite yet. While they have not had a winning season yet, the squad has shown significant improvements. Two years ago, they ended with a 26-40 record in the shortened NBA lockout season. This past season they barely missed a 50 percent record at 40-42.
Moreover, Flip Saunders has done a solid job during his first season as President of Basketball Operations. Unlike earlier in Love’s career, he now has a team of solid contributors such as Kevin Martin, Ricky Rubio, Nikola Pekovic and the surprise of last season, rookie Gorgui Dieng. With another season ahead of them, they very well could break through the glass ceiling and make the playoffs for the first time since 2004.
Because of this, Minnesota should not give in to the All-Star. No matter where they trade him to, they will not get equal value for Kevin Love, despite the demand he will garner. They also will likely go on a complete downward spiral as a result of shipping him out.
The problem with sticking it to him is dependent on if the power forward chooses to be immature or not. For instance, when it was known that Carmelo Anthony was leaving Denver, the locker room chemistry turned toxic. They had the potential to be at the top of the conference. However, the rumors of Anthony being traded ultimately destroyed the team.
The same thing can happen to the Timberwolves this season, dependent on how Love acts. What he needs to realize is that he has the potential to be more successful with the Timberwolves than the Knicks or Lakers. Those two teams, while in large markets, are a complete mess currently. Whether Kobe Bryant comes back to full strength or Carmelo Anthony returns re-signed, neither is likely to win a championship. They also are unlikely to even make the playoffs. At the rate the Timberwolves have been steadily improving, they have a chance. In fact, had it not been for injuries to Pekovic, Martin and Love himself, they may have gotten into the final spot in the West.
At the end of the day though, Love only has one more season left with the Timberwolves. Much like the other players who have demanded trades in the past, he is antsy to start with a new team now. However, he needs to realize that the Timberwolves have tried to build around him and have been steadily improving. It will not hurt the power forward to stick around one last season to see what Saunders and company comes up with.
Unfortunately, if history has been any indication, this is unlikely to happen. The people around Kevin Love have done to the Timberwolves what the All-Star wants and that is to demand a trade prior to next season. This is a terrible trend in the NBA, and sooner or later, a team needs to stick it to its disgruntled player. If Minnesota does this, it very well could send a message to all other future players coming off contract. After all, ultimately, it is the teams with the power to move the player or not.
Commentary by Simon Mounsey