Rudolph is reporting that Nets general manager Billy King has been looking for a third team to help complete the deal. That's where Kevin Love and the Minnesota Timberwolves come in, according to Rudolph's sources:
According to sources, King was planning to contact the Minnesota Timberwolves in order to gauge their interest in a three-team trade that would send Kevin Love to the Lakers, Brook Lopez to the Timberwolves and Dwight Howard to the Nets. Other small pieces would need to be included, but the proposed trade was thought to be intriguing enough to start conversations in the Lakers front office that would force them to deal with Howard earlier than planned.
Rudolph did go on to say that sources indicated King abandoned the idea after it was revealed that Love would be out until mid-March with a broken right hand. King reportedly believed the Lakers would be interested in Love, but not if he was hurt.
While his thinking there would make sense, we can't completely rule out the possibility of the Lakers accepting an injured Love.
Los Angeles is just 17-24 this season, meaning they would have to go 28-13 the rest of the way just to get to 45 wins. That might be good enough for eighth place in the West, but I doubt it. And considering that L.A. has lost three straight games and nine of its last 11, it doesn't look like the Lakers will be ripping off winning streaks any time soon.
If they're going to miss the playoffs anyway, it would be logical for the Lakers to focus on the future.
Howard is a free agent this season, and it's certainly possible that he will bail on the Lakers. Los Angeles was originally his third choice this summer (behind Brooklyn and the Atlanta Hawks), and it's not like the Lakers have given him much reason to stay.
He's averaging three fewer shot attempts per game than last season, and the team is a complete mess. Even if Howard says he wants to stay in L.A., the Lakers shouldn't put all their eggs in that flip-flopping basket.
If the Lakers want to get something out of last summer's mega-trade, they should seriously consider dealing Howard. And if you're going to be trading your All-Star big man, you might as well get one in return.
Love has played in just 18 games this season, but he's been very productive (18.3 points and 14.0 rebounds per game). He's still the best power forward in the game, and he would solve a few key problems in the Lakers lineup.
Love would be a perfect stretch-4 in Mike D'Antoni's offense. He could roam the perimeter, which would allow Pau Gasol to get back on the low block, where he is most effective. He could also be a menace in pick-and-pop situations with Steve Nash, and Love would ignite fast breaks with his great rebounding and outlet passes.
He also has four years left on his contract, so there's no worry of him bolting in free agency.
Meanwhile, this deal could also work out for the Nets.
Brooklyn is fourth in the Eastern Conference, but there is a massive gap between the Miami Heat and everyone else. While Brook Lopez is having a career year, he isn't capable of shutting down LeBron James and Dwyane Wade at the rim like Howard is.
With their current roster, the Nets are pretty damn good. Unfortunately, they have a ceiling. With Howard in the mix, they could elevate to true championship-contender status.
Of course, I would be hesitant to make this move if I were the Nets. Although Howard looks like he would fit in well with their current roster, the Lakers have proven that just throwing pieces together doesn't guarantee success.
But the Nets have been taking more and more risks since Mikhail Prokhorov took over, so don't be surprised if they take the gamble.
As for our third team, the Timberwolves have some incentive to make this deal as well. Kevin Love has voiced his displeasure with the organization before, and nobody wants to put up with a disgruntled superstar.
And, like I said above, if you're going to trade an All-Star big man, you might as well get one in return.
Brook Lopez wouldn't be the sexiest acquisition, but he is quietly having an outstanding season. Lopez has been the best center in the East, averaging 18.5 points, 7.4 rebounds and 2.1 blocks per game. He's also shooting 51.7 percent from the field, and he ranks fifth in the NBA in Player Efficiency Rating (25.23).
Lopez definitely wouldn't mesh well with Timberwolves center Nikola Pekovic, but the big Montenegrin is headed for free agency this summer.
If you're the Timberwolves, you would then be able to build around Lopez and Ricky Rubio. There are a lot of NBA teams that would kill to have two franchise building blocks.
So, from a basketball standpoint, this potential deal makes sense for all three teams. There are a few salary questions to sort out—Lopez and Love both have four years left on their contracts, while Howard's expires after the season.
With a few smaller pieces thrown in, though, this blockbuster trade is definitely possible.
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