The words Portland and Kevin Love seem like two things destined to collide.
Uttered in the same breath, used in the same sentence... and it’s not because people have suddenly realized that Love hails from the Portland area.
Nope, the Lake Oswego native has been discussed in various trade rumors, and even more so now that he showed his frustration over the past few days about the direction of the Cleveland Cavaliers.
Which, by the way, Love has since apologized for his behavior, which he deemed as “childish.”
Thursday, NBC Sports NBA Insider Tom Haberstroh discussed three potential teams that he believes would be the best fit for Love’s services.
1. The Portland Trail Blazers
2. The Toronto Raptors
3. The Phoenix Suns
So, why the Blazers at No. 1?
Haberstroh believes now, more than ever, Portland needs to take a risk while Damian Lillard is in his prime.
Plus, Portland is “desperate for bigs.”
Love’s contract seems to be the first roadblock. Suitors will have to absorb a deal that will pay Love an average of $30.5 million for another three seasons after this current one. For many, that’s a steep price to pay for a player on the wrong side of 30. Also, teams have to match Love’s current salary number of $28.9 million in any deal, either by bundling smaller deals together or swapping out an equally large salary....
To me, bringing the Portland native home is the most likely scenario. After inking Damian Lillard to a supermax extension this past summer, the injury-riddled Blazers are in danger of missing the playoffs for the first time since Lillard’s rookie season, a steep dropoff from last season’s Western Conference finals. As Yahoo! Sports’ Chris Haynes told me on last week’s Habershow podcast, this isn’t exactly what Lillard signed up for.
At 16-22, the Blazers are desperate for bigs with Jusuf Nurkic (broken leg) still sidelined and Zach Collins facing potentially season-ending shoulder surgery. Carmelo Anthony, though he’s played admirably after a year away from the game, is not a long-term solution.
The Blazers are sitting on two lottery tickets that could go up in smoke if they aren’t used in the next month. Hassan Whiteside’s $27 million expiring contract and Kent Bazemore’s $19.3 million expiring contract can be traded for star players on teams that may be looking to clean up their cap sheet.
Haberstroh also discussed that Love could help free up some attention from Lillard and McCollum.
All of the above is true. Moving Carmelo Anthony over to play more of three spot and Love at the four could work nicely for the rest of the season.
And, it could work in the future; however, the Blazers would have to make a decision on sticking with Zach Collins as their starting power forward or going with the veteran in Love once Collins is healthy enough to play again. The Trail Blazers seem to be all-in on Collins as part of the future of their franchise. Could that change? Maybe. But, at a huge cost.
With the amount of money Love is owed, which is a ton, does Portland really want to take that much of a risk on a guy who has become injury prone? Haven’t they dealt with enough injuries this season? Wouldn't they rather dig in with a younger, less expensive with tremendous potential?
If they do bring Love aboard, you don't want a guy making $30 million coming off your bench or sidelined by injury.
And then there is the question of Love really wants.
Yes, Love would fit into Terry Stotts’ system nicely (who doesn't)-- a big that can space the floor, but would he be happy in Portland?
Sure, he’s not happy in Cleveland, but there have been rumblings that he’s never been a very proactive guy in saying he wants to move back and play for his hometown team.
Also, with so much speculation surrounding Love to Portland, doesn’t it make more sense for Neil Olshey to throw a curveball? I mean, who was expecting the Jusuf Nurkic trade? Olshey has his own way of doing things and look how well the Nurk trade has turned out.
So yes, Love to Portland may look like an obvious choice, but will it actually happen?
Hopefully for Love and Blazers fans’ sake, everyone will know well before the trade deadline of February 6th.
Read more from Haberstroh HERE.