If Kevin Love were a pizza, what would he be? It can't be a specific type, like cheese, pepperoni or supreme. An unorthodox player needs to be compared to an unorthodox pizza.
Since we're already going down this road and I've got you thinking about pizza, Kevin Love is the new hot dog, stuffed-crust pizza. It looks promising and interesting, but after eating, you're very confused at what you just ate and wonder if it'd make any sense to have it again.
Because, really, what other pizza can do this?
That's the best way to sum up Love. He showed in Minnesota that he could be a potential top-10 player. Averaging 26 points and 13 rebounds in one year is no accident. But no matter what insane averages he put up, Love couldn't lead the Timberwolves to the playoffs, and was jettisoned to Cleveland upon his request.
But the individual numbers didn't materialize with Love playing alongside LeBron James and Kyrie Irving. He averaged 16.4 points per game this season, his lowest since 2009-10, and 9.7 rebounds. Love became the third wheel, and in doing so, looked like a player who wasn't ready for the bright lights of NBA stardom.
Nearly one year after Love was traded to Cleveland for Andrew Wiggins, the big man is expected to opt out of his contract and test free agency, according to Cavaliers general manager David Griffin. The Cavs' GM also expects Love to be back next year, and Love has even stated that he intends to be in Cleveland for the start of next season.
David Griffin says he believes LeBron James and Kevin Love will opt out, but he expects them to be back with #Cavs.— Chris Haynes (@ChrisBHaynes) June 18, 2015
So, why in the world are we even bringing up the thought of Love possibly being pursued by the Dallas Mavericks? Because it's the NBA, landscapes change very quickly and there are things we need to discuss.
LaMarcus Aldridge, perhaps the biggest free agent of this class (click to read Josh Bowe's great take on LMA), is more than likely switching teams. The two at the top of the list right now, are his hometown Mavs and the San Antonio Spurs. But ESPN.com's Marc Stein brought up an interesting point two days after the Blazers were eliminated by the Memphis Grizzlies in the first round of the playoffs.
Yet sources insist -- at, yes, this early juncture -- that San Antonio sits near or at the top of Aldridge's list ... unless the Cleveland Cavaliers were to lose Kevin Love and then somehow manufacture a way to sign-and-trade for him.
Since that time, reports have surfaced that the Mavs could be the favorites to pry Aldridge from Portland, but it brings up an interesting scenario. If Love opts out, and Aldridge chooses Cleveland, I'm almost certain the Cavs' front office could work something with Portland for a sign-and-trade if LeBron wanted that. That would leave Love on the market as the best available power forward, in which the Mavericks would pursue him by any means necessary.
Of course there'd be concerns about offering him a max contract. He's yet to play a full 82-game season, and that dislocated shoulder at the hands of Kelly Olynyk didn't help matters. His recovery timetable is slated for six months, which means he wouldn't be ready to go until the start of next season. But the Mavericks may very well offer him a max anyway.
It's a longshot, but if Love signed with the Mavericks, there's your Dirk Nowitzki replacement.
Fit with the Mavericks
Love comes to Dallas and he's instantly the No. 1 offensive option, which is probably what he prefers. The culture of the Mavericks is a lot better than what Minnesota offered. Dallas has done everything in its power to provide Dirk a chance to win. With Love on board, Dallas will do the same with him.
The Mavericks wouldn't have to change anything up offensively with Love that they already do with Dirk. He's a stretch-4 that's shot 36 percent from 3-point range in his career, and he excels at the pick-and-pop. A two-man game between him and Chandler Parsons would be a fantastic frontcourt combo.
While Love didn't have a season of eye-popping numbers, he still shot 36.7 percent from 3-point range this season. For as little scoring as he provided, he was still a reliable 3-point marksman for Cleveland, and that alone could've been a big help for the Cavs in the NBA Finals.
Love coming to Dallas also means Dirk moves to the bench, which is a relief for him and the Mavericks. If Love takes less money, that also puts Dallas in a great position to re-sign Tyson Chandler. Not by much, but a better chance than what would take to get Aldridge. But getting a new Dirk to replace the current Dirk wouldn't do much defensively. The Cavs gave up 103 points per 100 possessions with Love on the court, and 103 points per 100 possessions in the four playoff games Love played, according to NBA.com.
But where Love helps more than any other department, other than scoring, is rebounding, especially offensive rebounding. The Mavs averaged four rebounds less per game than their opponent, and gave up 12 offensive rebounds per game. Love averaged 3.7 offensive rebounds per game in his six seasons in Minnesota. Dallas hasn't had the advantage in rebounding over their opponents since the championship year. That's a problem the Mavs need to address, and will do ten-fold with Love in the starting lineup.
Again, this is as long of a longshot as one could be. The decision to play with the Mavs or Cavs is an easy one, but with Love opting out, it puts Cleveland in a tough position to make sure it pays Tristan Thompson and Timofey Mozgov. The argument can be made that Cleveland is a better team with Thompson and Mozgov (or even Aldridge) with LeBron and Kyrie, than with Love and those two.
It's not up to Love whether he wants to be back in Cleveland after he opts out. But if Aldridge doesn't pick Dallas, there's no reason why the Maverick shouldn't try to get their name on his list of potential destinations.