What Mavs Can & Will Offer In Love Trade

From where we sit, Kevin Love's desire to escape Minnesota has long been an inevitability. Now the rubber is about to meet the road as Love will reportedly decline a T'Wolves extension. DallasBasketball.com gives you an exclusive and detailed look at how the Mavs can - and will - package assorted trade offers for Kevin Love:



The Dallas Mavericks' lengthy pursuit of an heir to Dirk Nowitzki's throne would be satisfied if there was a way to lure Kevin Love away from Minnesota.

Via free agency in the summer of 2015? This is certainly the sort of name on the mind of Dallas GM Donnie Nelson when he says, "The free agent board isn't an exceptionally rich one this summer. The following summer is certainly one that some folks have circled.''

But assuming Love -- the offensively gifted scorer and rebounder -- has indeed made it clear to Minnesota his desire to escape there, as is being reported, there is a faster way to acquire him: in trade.

And of course, Minnesota would likely be interested in moving him in that manner sometime between now and the February 2015 trade deadline in order to avoid being left empty-handed if he leaves via free agency.

ESPN reports say the Warriors and Bulls are among the potential trade destinations that "intrigue Love,'' and also notes that the Lakers and Knicks "would tempt Love'' -- though the fact they are not in "immediate contention'' would lessen his interest.

So that's where Love prefers to land. Who else prefers to land him? That's everybody. Houston is mentioned. So is Boston. So is Phoenix.

But "everybody'' includes the Dallas Mavericks.

He's 6-10, 260. He's just 25 years old, He just put up 26 points and 12.5 rebounds per. If you are creating a "dream'' player to take the baton from Nowitzki ... this is pretty near the dream.

One trick in a Love trade: His new team would need to feel confident he'd be re-signing there for the max five-year, $100-million extension. Our educated guess is that the Mavs -- as pipedreamy as the rest of this concept might be -- would easily work their way toward that confidence.

The other trick: Being the winning bidder.

The Mavs' cupboard is not as bare as it once was. The elimination of the Odom Odor means Dallas can include No. 1 picks from 2015 and beyond. There are the two No. 2's this year. There are some complementary young pieces dotting the roster.

In our work on a speculative trade with Minnesota, we should be able to rule out the inclusion of Monta Ellis (Minnesota has Kevin Martin at the 2 and Mavs would prefer to keep Monta anyhow) and Calderon at the 1 (Minnesota has Ricky Rubio as their point of the present and future). In our view, Dirk, Shawn Marion, Vince Carter and Devin Harris aren't really a fit to choose to go there. So, while the cupboard is less bare than before, what the Mavs can offer would be somewhat limited.

OPTION 1

If the Mavs made a deal between the end of the draft and June 30, they would have to salary-match (in the package given to the T'Wolves) Love's current-year wage of $14.69 million within 150 percent. Almost certainly the package of players would consist of:

*Brandan Wright
*Wayne Ellington
*Shane Larkin
*One of either Jae Crowder or Ricky Ledo
*A $5-mil trade exception (approximate)
*plus whatever pick(s) they will include

OPTION 2

If the Mavs made a deal in July, the June trade outlined above would no longer work under the trade-matching rules. They would have to add at least one other player.

Another difference In July: the Mavs would have the potential to add one of their own free agents to the package as a sign-and-trade. But the only two we think might have an interest would be DeJuan Blair or Bernard James.

However, once we get to July, the Mavs would be able to do a deal facilitated by using cap room rather than by following the salary-match rules, and most likely this is what they would do.

As a result, salary-filler players like Larkin, Ledo and Crowder who would have more value to Dallas than in Minnesota would be much less likely to be moved, and the package might look something like this:

*Wright
*Ellington
*The Mavs would probably also need to include another young player in this deal, just as an "appeaser'' to Minnesota fans
*A $8-mil trade exception (approximate)
*Plus whatever pick(s) they will include

In either alternative, the Mavs would lose some of their summer spending room. The June trade would cost them about $6 million of their cap room, and the one in July about $8 million.

Either way, Wright would be the up-and-coming talent offered, but the key for the Mavs would be the pick(s) they might offer. If they want to be aggressive, they could add some uncommon pick protections that could make the offer even more attractive than picks being offered by others.

One option would be non-lottery protection, which is the opposite of the usual protection on a pick, where the pick is NOT sent if the Mavs make the playoffs. This would push the pick back to the after-Dirk years, when the Mavs might be really bad and the pick might be gold.

Another option, and one GMs really covet, is a pick with limited "protection" - and preferably almost none at all. Most traded picks don't convey to the other team if the pick is in the lottery, and some have even more protection than that (for example, the pick the Mavs gave for Lamar Odom was top-20 protected). But if sending a pick with almost no protection, Dallas offers the T'Wolves a chance to win big if Dallas has some bad luck or a slew of injuries and finishes low in the standings.

In this sort of scenario, the "non-protection" pick often is only protected for the top two or three slots, that is, the ones that get selected in the lottery drawing.

Another angle on offering a pick would be to offer at least two. The earliest that Minnesota could get them would be 2015 and 2017, the latter year having a likelihood that it's after a Mavs year without Dirk and with a lousy record as a result.

By being strategically aggressive with the way they offer a pick or two, the Mavs' picks might climb toward being as enticing as what a club like the Suns are willing to offer.

A side note on the Mavs offers versus offers from others:

As noted above there is no guarantee that you get Love for more than a year. There's risk. He has to want to stay, after the year is over. So you can't be so aggressive in your offer that he comes to a team that is lousy.
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Other teams may or may not be as eager to take that sort of risk, so what they CAN offer might not be the same as what they WILL offer.

For the Mavs, sending Wright makes sense since he would have no minutes if Love was added, and picks down the road won't have any impact on immediate success. In addition, this is definitely a circumstance where the Mavs' regular ability to make the playoffs, year after year, even when the roster changes, will work in their favor; Love has never been in the playoffs (the Wolves haven't been there in 10 seasons) and badly wants to get there, and this is a specialty of the Mavs.

Dallas has in the past attempted to lure stars here by trying to get them to see the big picture of ownership commitment, management stability, Rick Carlisle's leadership and a record of being competitive. That will be worth another stab here.

This is the sort of gamble that should be right up the Mavs' alley. We don't need to work very hard to verify Dallas' interest; that's a given. Instead we've worked to educated-guess our way into the details of what the Mavs can -- and will -- offer in a Kevin Love trade.


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