Oh no, that Kevin Love guy again.
Yeah, I know. This topic has been brought up time and time again and this trend will continue until Love signs a new contract.
There's a big reason why Kevin Love's name comes up in trade rumors 24/7.
NBA stars don't become available every day, especially top10 guys.
Whether you like him or not and no matter how much or little you value stats, you can't deny the fact that Kevin Love brings some elite abilities as a player. He's one of the best rebounders in the league, averaging 12.4 reb per 36. He's also one of the best scorers in the league, averaging 25.9 pts per 36 on 0.58TS%. Additionally, he's one of the best passing big men, averaging 4.4 ast per 36. Only Joakim Noah and Josh McRoberts averaged more than that last season. When you combine all these things, it's easy to see why Kevin Love has the 3rd highest PER in the NBA, and he's just entering his prime.
Yes, his defense is suspect, but it wouldn't be a downgrade for our team. His offense more than makes up for his defensive shortcomings, especially if you have the right players around him and the right system.
Unfortunately and unsurprisingly, the Suns aren't the only team pursuing Love. According to Flip Saunders, as many as 16 teams have inquired about Love so far. Still, there are two kinds of reasons why I think Suns GM, Ryan McDonough will relentlessly pursue Love and may offer more for him than some of us think is sensible.
I think it's worth it. Hear me out.
Championships are won by teams which have a good coach and a couple of stars surrounded by good role players. When you dissect the recent championship teams, you can see a trend. The championship team usually had at least two stars, one of whom was a big man.
1999 - Robinson & Duncan
2000-2002 - Shaq & Kobe
2003 - Duncan & Robinson
2004 - outlier, an amazing defensive machine, this could work but you'd have to have the right pieces
2005 - Duncan & Parker
2006 - Shaq & Wade
2007 - Duncan, Parker & Ginobili
2008 - Garnett, Pierce & Allen
2009-2010 - Gasol & Kobe
2011 - outlier - the Mavs had an amazing run, a well-built team with Dirk. I highly doubt it can be replicated, though.
2012 - Bosh, LeBron & Wade
2013 - Bosh, LeBron & Wade
This year's not going to be different.
In my opinion, the Suns don't have such a big man yet.
Assuming we re-sign Bledsoe and continue to run a system with two slashing playmakers, a big man stretching the floor is a must. The Suns have a promising big man in Alex Len who has a chance to be a very solid two-way center. Unless we trade Alex for a stretch 5, the other big has to be able to stretch the floor for Goran and Eric. And even assuming we got a stretch 5 like Spencer Hawes, our PF would have to be a great rim protector and there are few such players, none of whom are available. All in all, our star big man, it seems, must be a stretch 4. Enter Kevin Love.
But "how much should we give up for Love?" you may ask. A lot, I say. Let me tell you why.
When you dissect the previous championship teams, you can see that the core usually stays the same. The core, to me, are the stars. The players you build your team around. I think we all agree that we might have two such players in Dragic and Bledsoe.
I think you'll also agree with me that one should start building a contending team by assembling the core first and then surrounding it with role players, not the other way around. In my opinion, our core is not complete yet. We still need a star big man to complement Dragic and Bledsoe.
So who, apart from the picks, could be included in a trade for our missing piece?
Everybody not named Goran or Eric.
Until we assemble a formidable core of stars, every other player should be seen as a tradable asset. It's far easier to replace a role player than a star. Hence, guys like Gerald Green, the Morrii, Archie Goodwin, Miles Plumlee and even Alex Len can be used in a trade if it helps bring a star big man. I don't say we should trade them all, but if some of them are valuable to Minnesota or to a team that would give us something valuable to Minnesota in return, which would help us land Love, you do it and worry about replacing them later.
Fanbases fall in love with players all the time but the GM's ultimate task is to win the championship and if that means trading away fan-favorite role players in the process - so be it. You don't see many fans bemoaning Dudley's loss, do you? :) Success does that to people.
No fan who seriously thinks about the championship should want the Suns to become the Hawks of the west, which may happen if we start filling out the team even though the core is not good enough.
And that brings us to the other issue which makes the possible trades even more desirable.
When building a team, you need to take the salary cap into account. How the teams allocate the money under the salary cap plays a huge part in their success. Let's look at this year's finalists' salaries.
As you can see, there are similarities between those teams. Both have a top-heavy payroll with the core players getting the bulk of the money, while the rest of the roster is filled with a couple reliable role-players taking around 3-4m$ and some league-minimum-earning players. I think this model is the most cost-effective of all and gives the highest chances of building a contender. It's not easy to built a team this way. Some players will take paycuts only for sure-fire contenders. Nevertheless, the Suns should try to follow this model as closely as possible.
This year's Suns team was probably the most cost-effective team in the league as far as wins per $ are concerned.
However, this glorious situation is coming to an end because a couple of players are about to get paid and a couple others will follow them next year. Most of you know exactly who I am talking about but let's list the guys to see the big picture.
Assuming only Frye doesn't get a raise, that's a lot of money to be spent in the near future. The Front Office must consider whether it makes sense to keep all those guys.
In my opinion - it doesn't. The reason is simple. The group of guys we have now will not bring us a championship. Barring another unexpected growth of our players, it's fair to assume that the current squad (even + this year's rookies) is not good enough to contend for a championship. What's more, signing every one of those guys would make it difficult to find enough money for a star big man we badly need. Moreover, it wouldn't be in line with what the Spurs and the Heat are doing.
For me, it's always better to trade players for assets then to let them go for nothing. So if you could pack some of our guys and, in turn, facilitate a trade for a star big man like Kevin Love, you do it and you worry about replacing them later.
By doing this, you would not only complete the core with a star big man, but you would also allocate the money in the most efficient way. Two birds with one stone.
If Ryan McDonough feels he is good enough to build a contending team around Dragic, Bledsoe & Love (I think he does), you do whatever you can to bring Love because such an opportunity doesn't come often.
Contending teams usually consists of dynasties, i.e. teams where the core is kept together for years and you only swap the role players. Swapping Mike Miller for Ray Allen is easy. It's "assembling the core" part that is difficult.
It's time for a new dynasty to rise from the ashes.
What better place than here,
what better time than now?