Its hard to grade the winners and losers of the NBAs summer marketplace without knowing where Kevin Love lands. But deadlines are deadlines, so Ill try.
First, lets discuss what might happen with Love, the Lake Oswego native who has become as desirable as a 1950s pin-up model and has been coveted by a number of teams since the end of the 2013-14 campaign.
What I know is this: Love would not re-sign with Minnesota were he to remain with the Timberwolves next season and become a free agent next summer. Owner Glen Taylor and coach Flip Saunders have both stated publicly theyd like to keep Love next season and have him re-up with the Wolves, but the latter isnt going to happen.
The All-Star power forward would prefer to join LeBron James in Cleveland. James wants Love as a teammate, too. James has called Love several times since signing with the Cavaliers to express that sentiment and influence him to agree to a contract extension, or at least to pick up the option on the
final year of his contract in 2015-16 should a deal be struck. Love would be agreeable to that.
Word is the Cavaliers are willing to give up two of three young players Dion Waiters, Tristan Thompson and Anthony Bennett along with a first-round draft pick. Sources differ on whether the Cavs would be willing to include No. 1 selection Andrew Wiggins. Minnesota is demanding that Wiggins be part of the package.
Golden State has also been active in negotiations for Love, who last season became the first player in NBA history to score 2,000 points (2,010), grab 900 rebounds (963) and make at least 100 3-point shots (190).
The Warriors have offered David Lee, Harrison Barnes and a first-round pick but so far have balked at including Klay Thompson. The Wolves would want Thompson as part of the deal, perhaps instead of Barnes.
Chicago also is making a push to land Love.
Saunders is the key figure in Minnesota blocking a trade right now. It appears to be a game of chicken that may string out to training camp in September, or beyond. Eventually, though, Minnesota will need to get something for Love or risk losing him for nothing next summer.
For now, heres a look at some of the wheeling and dealing and moves around the NBA this summer:
Biggest winners so far
Even with losing a number of solid players, including Luol Deng, Spencer Hawes, Jarrett Jack, C.J. Miles and Tyler Zeller, the Cavaliers are poised for a quantum leap next season. They have added James, veterans Mike Miller and Brendan Haywood along with Wiggins, who is going to take some time becoming a quality NBA player but will help immediately. The Cavs, 33-49 a year ago, should flip that and be among the Eastern Conferences top four teams next season. And thats if they dont get Love.
The Mavericks re-signed Dirk Nowitzki and Devin Harris, signed free agent small forward Chandler Parsons (at the exorbitant price of $46 million over three years) and added veteran center Tyson Chandler through trade. They gave up solid point guard
Jose Calderon and ageless Vince Carter along with several other reserves, but Parsons and a healthy Chandler give them a chance to move up in the Western Conference playoff race.
The Bulls swapped power forwards with the Los Angeles Lakers, giving up the amnestied Carlos Boozer for Pau Gasol. Gasol is a better player than Boozer, though the maligned Boozer isnt as bad as disgruntled Chicago fans think he is. The Bulls also drafted small forward Doug McDermott, who will be a welcome addition off the bench. They lost point guard D.J. Augustin but re-signed Kirk Hinrich. If Derrick Rose comes back healthy, theyll be a title contender in the East.
With the signing of Isaiah Thomas, the Suns have a backcourt rotation of Thomas, Eric Bledsoe and Goran Dragic. All are natural point guards, but it can work in coach Jeff Hornaceks free-flowing system. Phoenix lost Channing Frye but added Anthony Tolliver and also draft picks Tyler Ennis and T.J. Warren, who could make the rotation right away. The Suns should be better next season.
The Wizards re-signed center Marcin Gortat and acquired veterans Paul Pierce, Kris Humphries and DeJuan Blair. They lost Trevor Ariza but have a chance to improve in the East.
Los Angeles Clippers
They lost Darren Collison and Danny Granger from their bench, but they re-signed Glen Big Baby Davis and landed Hawes and Jordan Farmar. With all the starters returning, theyll be a title contender, with or without owner Donald Sterling.
Biggest losers so far
Though the Heat re-signed Chris Bosh and Dwyane Wade, added Deng, Granger and Josh McRoberts and drafted promising point guard Shabazz Napier, they lost James. They still could be one of the top four teams in the East, but they wont be as good as theyve been the last four years.
The Nets added Jack but lost Pierce, Shaun Livingston and Marcus Thornton. Even with an upgrade in coaches from Jason Kidd to Lionel Hollins Brooklyn may take a step back next season.
The Rockets signed Trevor Ariza and retained guard Troy Daniels, but they lost Parsons, Jeremy Lin and Omer Asik. Their rotation will be thinner next season.
Getting better without making major deals
San Antonio Spurs
The Spurs stayed status quo, re-signing important free agents Boris Diaw and Patty Mills. And 6-11 Austin Daye, whom they acquired at the trade deadline last season, is the kind of player who should benefit from the Spurs system and become a member of the rotation in 2014-15. Theyll be a big-time title contender again.
Portland Trail Blazers
The Trail Blazers have kept everyone but sixth-man Mo Williams from last years team, adding veterans Chris Kaman and Steve Blake. If they enjoy the same kind of good health as they did last season, theyll be a team that could take another step ahead in 2014-15.