Love not only Wolves player who could be traded
JUL 23, 2014 4:30p ET
MINNEAPOLIS -- Spurned by Dallas after aiding the Mavericks in their 2011 championship run, J.J. Barea came to the Twin Cities hoping to make the most of a new, if not 100-percent welcome, opportunity. Two years later, Kevin Martin reunited here with his favorite basketball sage, ready to maximize his niche skill set as his career winds to a close.
And now, they both might be on the move again.
The A, B, C and Z topic regarding the Timberwolves' offseason personnel situation is, has been and will be Kevin Love until he's either traded away or shows up for the most uncomfortable of training camps in October. But via Flip Saunders' volition, there's more than one player on the Minnesota side of the Love soap opera.
Because Love wants out of Minnesota after failing to make the playoffs or earn a max contract in six seasons with the Timberwolves, Saunders is willing to deal him for the right return. Lately, Andrew Wiggins and some other pieces from Cleveland have emerged at the top of that list (the Cavaliers just traded Carrick Felix to Utah for three non-guaranteed contracts, presumably in order to establish salary flexibility in a Love trade).
Chicago's back in the mix, too, reportedly offering Taj Gibson, Doug McDermott and Nikola Mirotic for Love's services, according to Sheridan Hoops.
As the market becomes more competitive, Saunders can continue driving up the price. But if teams want Love, they're going to have to inherit some dumped salary alongside him.
Barea has one year at $4.5 million left on his contract. Martin, who signed as an unrestricted free agent last season, has three years and approximately $21 million remaining on his.
Barea is 30, a polarizing locker-room figure and appears to have been shoved further down in Minnesota's guard rotation. Martin is a year older, doesn't offer much other than shooting prowess and ties up a whole lot of salary through 2017 -- an eternity for a franchise seeking to toe the line between rebuild and revamp with a coach, Saunders, who doesn't plan on being in place very long.
Former president of basketball ops David Kahn brought in Barea to ease Ricky Rubio's transition from Spain to the NBA. In three seasons under coach Rick Adelman, the 6-foot point guard averaged 10.1 points, 21.7 minutes and 4.3 assists per games
Respectable numbers for a second-unit point man. But Barea's ill-advised 3-point attempts late in games hurt Minnesota last season, and his clashes with Love sometimes proved a distraction.
He also has Rubio and first-round pick Zach LaVine to contend with for playing time. Rather than allow Barea to walk as an unrestricted free agent next summer, Saunders would rather feel like he got something in return for the eighth-year veteran who lit up the scoreboard against Miami during Dallas' 2011 finals win.
Although he wouldn't mind ending up back in Dallas at some point, Barea hasn't complained publicly about his time in Minnesota. "I'm happy where I'm at," he said when trade rumors involving him swirled early this year.
At face value, Martin might seem like a tougher asset to lose. His 19.1 points per game ranked second on the team, and his 89.1-percent free-throw clip was the NBA's fourth-best.
But Martin's reputation as a putrid defender was only solidified during his 10th pro campaign; his defensive rating of 109 (an estimate of points allowed per 100 possessions) was the Wolves' third-highest.
The second? Barea, at 110.
Add in a third team to make salaries match and keep in line with NBA trade rules, and struggling guard Alexey Shved or Budinger, who's dealt with knee problems his entire time in Minnesota, could be added to the mix.
That's the business side, fortified by basketball's multimillion-dollar profits, hefty salaries and a convoluted collective bargaining agreement.
But there's a personal side, too. Martin just got here and would be uprooting for the fourth consecutive offseason. Barea has a 2-year-old son to attend to.
Any Love transaction is sure to feature notable fallout. If the latest trade murmurings keep gathering steam, Martin, Barea and/or another Wolves teammate or two could be caught up therein.
Follow Phil Ervin on Twitter