The return of LeBron James to the Cavs had the greatest reverberations of any offseason move, but the most persistent storyline over the summer involved one of his new teammates. Kevin Love trade talk was a near-daily feature on Hoops Rumors for months on end, and the man at the controls was Wolves president of basketball operations Flip Saunders, who also spent time looking for a coach before deciding that he was his own best candidate for the job. Saunders reflected on the trade to Tim Bontemps of the New York Post, who shares Saunders’ remarks in his weekly column on leaguewide affairs. The entire piece is worth your time, but here’s a look at Saunders’ most notable revelations:
On how he viewed the chances, as of July 1st, that he would trade Love:
“It was 50-50. We had made up our minds … we knew what we wanted, and I was very comfortable coaching Kevin and [dealing with] everything else. A lot of times, it boils down to the players … it boils down to money. If you can pay somebody $20 or $30MM more sometimes, when it comes down to it they might flinch, but they might end up staying.”
On the effect LeBron had on the trade:
“We were in a situation where if LeBron doesn’t go to Cleveland, do we trade [Love]? Probably not. He’s probably still here. But the way it worked out, LeBron went there, and a lot of pieces started to fall into place for Cleveland and it became a very logical thing for them to try to make a push to try to win a championship to get a guy that, ultimately, is one of the two best power forwards in the league, and that became a reality for them.
On his post-trade goals:
“Then, for us, it became [a situation in which] we wanted to try to maximize what we wanted to do. With Love leaving, I don’t want to say we were in a total rebuild … more of a retool situation. We wanted to get young, athletic talent that we thought had the potential where, in three years, that we could hit home runs and they could be a team that makes a run like the Oklahoma City Thunder and develop like that.”