Thursday, June 26, 2008

Love Traded To Minnesota For O.J. Mayo

By The Associated Press

Minnesota Timberwolves fans went to bed wondering how O.J. Mayo would fit in with their guard-heavy team.

Memphis Grizzlies backers hit the hay hoping that Kevin Love would open things up for Rudy Gay in the frontcourt.

Both groups woke up Friday morning to a totally different reality, thanks to an eight-player blockbuster trade in the wee hours of the night that changed the faces of both teams.

Hours after the draft concluded, the Wolves sent Mayo, forward Antoine Walker and guards Greg Buckner and Marko Jaric to Memphis for Love, shooter Mike Miller and frontcourt retreads Brian Cardinal and Jason Collins.

Timberwolves vice president of basketball operations Kevin McHale said he thought the deal was dead early in the night, but the Grizzlies reopened negotiations as the first round came to a close, and Memphis finally relented and included Miller in the transaction.

"Actually no one was more surprised than we were when the deal came back," McHale said. "We were all sitting around there looking at each other saying, 'Wow, I guess it's back on.' There were just too many components in it that fit our needs not to do it."

The deal allows the Timberwolves to dump Walker, who was unhappy riding the bench on a rebuilding team, and Jaric's contract, which has three years and more than $21 million remaining.

Miller also fills a huge hole on the team as a perimeter shooter and gives them Love, a 6-foot-10 power forward who will play down low next to Al Jefferson, who will stay at center in this revamped lineup rather than move to his more natural power forward position.

"This deal really set us up on so many levels," Minnesota GM Jim Stack said. "We couldn't pass it up."

The Grizzlies, in turn, get a dynamic guard in Mayo who was widely thought of as the third-best player in the draft behind Memphis guard Derrick Rose and Kansas State forward Michael Beasley, who went first and second, respectively.

Mayo averaged 20.7 points in his lone season with the Trojans and also dealt with controversy when a former friend alleged that he took money and gifts from an agent while in high school and college.

Mayo denied the allegations and impressed the Timberwolves with the way he handled questions on the topic during a workout in Chicago last weekend.

"We felt it was a chance to take a player who we had ranked as the third best player in the draft," Grizzlies GM Chris Wallace said. "That I think almost all the league felt was third behind Beasley and Rose. And if anybody has the chance to break in and have the type of impact in the NBA that Rose and Beasley seem certain to have, it would be O. J. Mayo."

Timberwolves fans will likely be reminded of another lottery-swapping move two years ago, when Minnesota selected Brandon Roy, then traded him to Portland for Randy Foye and cash.

Roy went on to become rookie of the year in 2006-07 and an All-Star last season, while Foye has struggled with injuries while showing promise as a floor leader and playmaking perimeter threat.

With Foye and Rashad McCants -- two smallish scoring guards -- already on the roster, the Wolves started their evening by drafting the 6-foot-5 Mayo out of USC with the third pick.

Memphis took Love, the fundamentally sound Bruin, with the fifth overall pick.

Despite the apparent similarities between Mayo, Foye and Rashad McCants, assistant GM Fred Hoiberg told hundreds of fans gathered at Target Center for a draft party that he thought Mayo would fit in just fine with the guard-heavy Timberwolves.

"We thought there was a realistic chance Miami would take him at No. 2," Hoiberg said of the Heat, who chose Beasley. "We think that he'll come in and be able to help us out right away."

Hoiberg raved about Mayo's outside shooting and competitive spirit, calling him "a complete player, a complete person" and someone who can "come in and be able to help us out right away."


At Jun 26, 2008, 11:48:00 PM, Anonymous The Baron said...

Why is Love considered a forward, even before the draft? Although he might not be a big shot-blocker as a pro, to me he's a center. His size and strength are better suited to battling with centers (MANY of which are not 7-footers) than running with forwards.

At Jun 27, 2008, 3:48:00 AM, Anonymous leroi said...

he's shorter than 6'8"

At Jun 27, 2008, 3:53:00 AM, Anonymous Dan-O said...

Baron have to disagree with you. I know he is not strong enough to play the 5 (see memphis final 4 game) and does not possess enough athleticism to hold down the middle against slashing guards or strong 5's in the post. Lest we forget the memphis game where three drafted players took him apart on both ends. However, I do think he will carve out a nice career for himself in the nba at the 4. But then again Kevin McHale drafted him, which might be a death sentence considering his track record post KG 1996.

At Jun 27, 2008, 6:22:00 AM, Anonymous KDL1984 said...

I'm really happy for the two Bruins that went so high in the draft. Like another blogger wrote, it can only help prosepctive athletes to see UCLA so high in the draft! As much as I hate to say it, I expect Holiday to be near the top in next year's draft as well. Collison, not as high and Shipp around where Luc fell to. As long as the chief continues to replace the graduating/one and done players like he has, there's reason for joy in Westwood!
Now, if we can just pry a few 5 stars away from the suc football program, we'd be sitting pretty good right now!
C'mon Neuhisel and Chow! Work that magic!

At Jun 27, 2008, 6:28:00 AM, Anonymous george said...

Re: Love "not strong enough to play the five" - I recall a couple games against Stanford in which Love very effectively held his own against BOTH Brook and Robin Lopez.
Book 'm Dan-o

At Jun 27, 2008, 9:07:00 AM, Anonymous DB said...

I dont think it is a matter of Love not strong enough for a 5 but rather not tall and athletic enough for a 5.
He only played center in college cause he was considered a pretty big man for the game, but in NBA he is short. Even at the 4 I have concerns with his speed and agility to defend that position, but hopefully he continues to improve.
Keep in mind that at both positions, he will meet up against players like Amare, Duncan, Brand, Oden, D Howard, Boozer, and all sorts of other bigs which IMO will give him a tough matchup. Putting him at 4 will help him defensively as this means theres usually a 5 defending his weakside. I imagine Love will need help against good solid 4s in the NBA.

At Jun 27, 2008, 9:41:00 AM, Anonymous george said...

klove and jefferson will likely be playing the 4 and 5 together and the positions with those two will blur forcing love to guard all the aforementioned bigs. so, we'll all see over the next couple years exactly how athletic he can be. i for one have always thought the criticisms of him "not being athletic" have been a bit overblown. but, we shall see.

At Jun 27, 2008, 1:34:00 PM, Anonymous the philosophical one said...

well klove has lost what like 20 lbs before his workouts and what not and he was at a sea lionish 13% body fat as jay bilas said so if he gets that down to like 6-9% where the rest of the draft field is i think that will tremendously improve his quickness and "explosion ability"

At Jun 27, 2008, 11:35:00 PM, Anonymous Wayne said...

Love doesn't have the foot speed to play in the NBA. He will always be a two steps to late on most plays. Plus he can't create his own shot. He will struggle and long for the days when he was the "man". Good Luck K. Love

At Jun 28, 2008, 4:14:00 AM, Anonymous george said...

Waynester -
With that kind of absolute dogmatic insight, I am amazed that you are not an NBA scout (or are you?) I am sure some NBA teams must be drooling for your expertise. Then, none of those so-called experts on the payroll of those franchises would have made the terrible mistake of drafting the slow-footed "man"on campus.
WAYNE"S WORLD Wayne's World wayne's world . . .

At Jun 28, 2008, 5:31:00 AM, Anonymous alan said...

although i will be tracking westbrook, love, and a moute, and rooting for them
really my attention is going to be on the new Bruin team taking the floor later this year, as well as my la clippers and there sweet new draft class

At Jun 28, 2008, 11:11:00 AM, Anonymous Brad said...

K-Love, 6'11 when recruited 6'10 in Dec, 6'9 in the NCAAs, and Now 6'7. Kobe Bryant is 6'7 and he's a 2. I've never seen a guy shrink 4 in. in one year! no wonder we lost to Memphis, all our players are four inches shorter than listed.

At Jun 28, 2008, 3:21:00 PM, Anonymous DB said...

I think what happens is that some measure height without shoes on and some with. Which is why there can be up to a 2 inch or so difference.
In any case, imo you dont draft a Klove in hopes of building your franchise around him or have him carry the team. You draft a Klove to have a solid contributor day in and day out.
This is certainly not to put Klove down or anything as I believe he will be a solid contributor in the NBA. It is just skillwise and athletic wise I do not see him abling to dominate at the NBA level.
Only time will tell how he really will perform against the better teams and players in the NBA. In the meantime I am sure he will work hard to get stronger and hopefully faster. He is the type of player that will have to work very hard for the game since his size and athleticism might be limited.
In any case he will be a solid contributor at the right team. As long as he does not play for a team that likes to run up and down the court, he should be fine.

At Jun 29, 2008, 1:31:00 AM, Anonymous The Baron said...

K-Love may be down to 6-5 by November. Maybe he is a forward. On the other hand, the best comp for him from NBA history may be Wes Unseld, a 6-8 center. (As you guys know, Kevin is well aware of this; Unseld was a teammate of Stan Love.)

At Jun 29, 2008, 4:23:00 PM, Anonymous Bee said...

The way I see it, there is a place in the NBA for people of sufficient size who know how to play the game. Charles Barkley was like 6'5" or 6'6", and he led the NBA in rebounding!
KLove is of adequate athleticism, and knows how to play the game better than half the guys in the NBA right now. Yes, I wish (probably along with a lot of you) that he stayed an extra year to improve his explosiveness, but you know what, eventually, I think he's going to do just fine.
He may not end up being an NBA superstar, but there were plenty of guys drafted higher than him that have already ended up worse. Would you trade him for Kwame anyone? I'm sure Detroit was really happy during the time it had Darko, too! We all love JR Reid. KLove will be a solid NBA player.
I, for one, am thankful he came to UCLA. He really helped our team last year, and without him, no Final Four for sure. He was easily the best player on our team.

At Jun 29, 2008, 5:05:00 PM, Anonymous george said...

Bee - agree with most of your comments except: "Without him no final four for sure." How do you know this? Your crystal ball completely in focus? Who would BH have drafted to fill KLove's spot who did not come to UCLA because KLove did? How would coach have managed the team differently without him? The year prior, we went to the final four with Mata at the post. Granted, we had Afflalo but RW was out of this world this past season (as the NBA scouts saw.) Certainly, it would have been an uphill battle and KLove added greatly to our arsenal but to say "no final four for sure?" Come on, have some faith in Coach. After the past three years, he deserves it.

At Jun 30, 2008, 12:16:00 PM, Anonymous Bare Gunner said...

George I have to agree with Bee. If you recall down the stretch of the Pac10 play, KLove willed us to quite a few close-call victories when the rest of our guys seemed perplexed on the next move to make!
I certainly know we would not have won the Pac10 title without him, and I definitely feel we would not have gone too far in the tourny either!
KLove was an absolute "stud" for us. I don't think another freshman out there could have even come close (even with Ben's great development skills on players)!

At Jun 30, 2008, 2:23:00 PM, Anonymous george said...

I concede. You guys are just too omniscient for me. (In case you don't know, that means all-knowing.)

At Jun 30, 2008, 2:26:00 PM, Anonymous george said...

BTW, guys, perhaps you could settle a dispute I am having with some friends. Do you think we might have gotten to the final four if we did not have KLove, DC, RW, the Prince, Josh, Keefe, Aboya or Mata on the team last year? Just wondering what y'all think. Oh, and what if BH was coaching with his hands tied behind his back? Just wondering man, just wondering.


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