Kevin Love was once again spotted spending time in the great state of Utah. Which brings up the point – should he be on the Utah Jazz’s trade radar?
When it comes to finding players that are a good fit with the Utah Jazz, one of the predominant requirements (to fans anyway) is that they have some sort of love or appreciation for the state in which they play. All too often, we’ve seen players in years past such as Deron Williams, Gordon Hayward and many, many others apparently lose their affection for playing in the Beehive State and move on to purportedly greener pastures. Though it should be mentioned that D-Will has since expressed a great love for the state where his NBA career got underway.
However, we’ve also seen former Jazzmen who, despite leaving the team for one reason or another, have maintained an expression of nothing but love and loyalty for Utah and therefore have retained the appreciation of the fans. This group includes the likes of DeMarre Carroll, Trevor Booker and Paul Millsap, to name a few.
Truth be told, considering the struggles the Jazz have had with landing or keeping big-time free agents, there’s little wonder why an expressed affinity for Utah is a quick way to win over the fans’ hearts. That’s also why whenever a player has some sort of connection with the state, they’re often quickly viewed by fans as a potentially perfect fit, regardless of other questionable shortcomings that may exist. For one such example, look no further than Jabari Parker, who many Jazz fans spent a significant time pining after in previous years.
Those connections that boil down to a player potentially having a willingness and desire to stay and play in Utah have become very important to fans that are all too accustomed to being spurned. Therefore, it should come as no surprise that Kevin Love is a guy that many of the Utah faithful have had their eyes on for quite some time as a potential target for the Jazz.
It’s no secret that Love has spent significant time in Utah, and has even referred to Park City as one of his favorite places to visit. His repeated praise of and presence in the state have been enough to send many Jazz fans into a frenzy of excitement on multiple occasions.
And that clearly remains the case, as a recent Instagram post from the Cleveland Cavaliers forward once again had a similar effect. See for yourself in the image below:
As reported by the Deseret News, this photo of Love was taken from The Amangiri Resort in Canyon Point in Southern Utah. A beautiful spot, to be sure. And the fact that Utah was included in the tag along with Kevin merely commenting ‘Western Conference’ sent several Jazz fans into a tizzy – some real, some sarcastic.
Although it’s not hard to see where speculation could be pulled from this image, the reality is that it’s unlikely that there’s any sort of deal in the works which would send Love to the Utah Jazz. Nevertheless, this instance certainly does beg the question – should there be? Should Kevin Love be on Utah’s radar for a potential trade?
Silly though it may sound, a love for the state and a desire to make Utah home isn’t something that can be overlooked. Though Jazz fans may tend to obsess too much over that fact, it still is an important aspect to maintain the team’s chemistry and culture. Considering that Love might very well enjoy coming to play in a state he adores, there’s a lot to be said about him being an interesting target.
But that’s not all, Love is a renowned stretch-four that, when playing at his best, would fit a dire Jazz need perfectly. They’ve long wanted a power forward that can space the floor as a reliable 3-point threat while also being dynamic offensively with the ball in his hands. I can think of a number of stretch-fours that are better playmakers than Love, but he still checks a lot of the boxes the Jazz could be looking for.
Not only that, but he’s a former All-Star, a double-double machine that can still rebound with the best of them and is a career 37-percent shooter from the perimeter. There’s definitely a lot to like about all that. He could potentially be exceptional alongside Rudy Gobert whose talents are maximized next to a floor-spacing four, and he’d provide more room for the Jazz to run the pick-and-roll and for Donovan Mitchell to get into the paint and create.
In short, combine his love for Utah and his unique skill set, and you might think that adding him would be a match made in heaven for the Jazz and that he’s definitely a trade target they should pursue. Well, pardon me if we disagree, but if that’s what you’re thinking up to this point, I’m here to tell you that such wouldn’t be a good idea at all.
In saying such, I mean no disrespect to Kevin Love at all. Honestly, I see a lot of ways in which he could truly help the Jazz and could make them a better team. Unfortunately, one look at his contract should be enough to make Jazz brass head for the hills in a full-on sprinted retreat.
Love is under contract through the 2022-2023 season for right around $30 million per year. He’s 30 years old right now, which isn’t necessarily old in NBA standards, but it’s definitely on the wrong side of the fence. What’s worse, though, is that he’ll be 34 by the time his contract is up, meaning the final two (or more) years of his contract could be pretty rough at such a high dollar amount.
That’s especially true given Kevin’s checkered injury history. He played just 22 games this past season and only 59 the year before that. In his 11 seasons in the league, he’s only played over 70 games in five of them and has averaged just over 22 missed games per year. That’s a bad sign for a player on the wrong side of 30 under a massive contract.
We all saw in the second round of the playoffs how much Father Time is catching up to the Houston Rockets’ Chris Paul who is on a massive contract, and I could certainly see that same thing happening to Love in the tail years of his current deal. Not only that, but while Love’s shooting prowess and rebounding ability are great, his defense and athleticism are definitely lacking.
Those are two missing traits that could make him a problem on the Jazz roster. Utah’s identity is built around defense, and more than anything the Jazz need another dynamic playmaker who can beat opponents off the dribble, get into the paint and collapse the defense. Love spreads the floor, sure, but he’s not exactly revolutionary in those other areas.
In short, there’s a lot to like about Kevin Love and I certainly can see why a large contingent of Jazz fans are high on him. If we were bringing over the Minnesota Timberwolves version of Love with a few years shaved off his age and a few figures shaved off his salary, I’d be all for it. Instead, a trade for the current Love would require a loss of outbound assets, the acquisition of a hefty contract that could majorly handicap the Jazz financially for the next four seasons, and a player in their midst that has struggled to stay healthy.
Those issues right there completely mitigate the positives that Love would bring if you ask me, especially considering that there are other players out there that check the same and more boxes than Love does and would be a much better fit in terms of style and responsible spending.
So, as cool as it is to see Love spending his vacation time in our great state of Utah and expressing his love for the area, unfortunately he just doesn’t make sense as a trade target for the Jazz. Dennis Lindsey and the rest of the Jazz front office will no doubt aim to make major improvements this summer, but due to Love’s contract length/amount, injury history, age, and lack of athleticism and defense, he simply isn’t the answer for the organization.