ESPN, Fox Grade Trade
After Minnesota received Kevin Love and Mike Miller as the key pieces in a draft-day trade, national writers such as ESPN's John Hollinger and Chad Ford and Fox Sports' Mike Kahn weighed in.
Hollinger and Ford, who cover the draft more closely than almost any national media members, as well as columnist Mike Kahn were entirely positive in their reviews:
John Hollinger - Timberwolves Make Out on Mayo - Love Swap
Wait ... did Kevin McHale just make a good trade?
I'm pretty sure he did, when he traded Antoine Walker, Marko Jaric, Greg Buckner and the rights to No. 3 pick O.J. Mayo to Memphis for Mike Miller, Brian Cardinal, Jason Collins and the rights to No. 5 pick Kevin Love.
When we break it down, it's hard to see how Minnesota loses:
Love is, in my estimation, the better of the two prospects.
This is clearly not the consensus opinion; if it was, the Grizzlies wouldn't have thrown so much extra into this trade to get Mayo. But Love's numbers project him as a much better NBA player. And big guys have traditionally been more valued than guards in the NBA; hence the adage, "Don't trade big for small."
Love is a better fit in Minnesota than Mayo.
The Wolves already have plenty of 6-foot-4 wing players (Randy Foye, Rashad McCants) and a shortage up front, where Love's ability to shoot and pass will keep the lane open for Al Jefferson to dominate. Obviously the Jefferson-Love combo raises some concerns at the defensive end, since neither is especially tall or moves well laterally, but offensively they could be devastating.
Of the other players in the trade, Miller is the only one worth a hoot.
He's another shooter who struggles to defend, but that weakness is more apparent on a bad team for which he has to start and play 40 minutes. Stick him in a sixth-man role, and he'll be dynamite.
The Wolves are taking on fewer dollars.
In the short term, the financial considerations are pretty much neutral: Memphis pays $2 million less this year, much of which is offset by the difference between the salary slots for No. 5 (Love) and No. 3 (Mayo). But while Jaric and Cardinal have similarly large salaries, Jaric has three years left on his deal and Cardinal only two. Buckner has only $1 million guaranteed for the two years after 2008-09, and the contracts for the other two new Grizzlies expire next year. So the Grizzlies end up taking on more salary than Minnesota does, particularly in Year 3 when Jaric and Buckner are on the books for a combined $8.1 million.
Obviously, I don't like this trade as much for Memphis. If you're a Grizzlies fan, however, a couple glass-half-full points are worth mentioning.
First, while the Grizzlies were eager to get rid of Cardinal's absurd contract, the accountants weren't behind this deal -- it's essentially cap neutral in the short term and actually takes on additional money three years out. That's a positive sign.
Second, if you really think Mayo is the superior talent, then the price Memphis paid isn't extravagant. It costs them a bit of salary three years from now and a shooter. Obviously, I don't think that's a worthwhile price because I believe Love is the better player anyway, but the consensus among scouts is the opposite. If that view holds, then it's not a bad price to pay.
Incidentally, Memphis scored a nice coup later in the draft when it traded for Kansas' Darrell Arthur, a player whose projected third-year PER ranked third among all prospects in the draft.
ESPN Draft Grades - Chad Ford
Minnesota Timberwolves - Grade: A-
Round 1: Kevin Love (5)
Round 2: Nikola Pekovic (31)
Analysis: For the first time in more than a decade, Minnesota's Kevin McHale is earning an A from me. He did a really nice job getting value for Mayo at No. 3 and putting together a young team that could win 35 to 40 games next year.
Love won't be a superstar, but he's going to be solid. Pairing him in the front court with Al Jefferson makes the Wolves a little undersized, but they now have two excellent low-post scoring options.
Besides Love, the key acquisition was Mike Miller. He immediately comes in to fill a huge hole (long-range shooting) for the Wolves. If Randy Foye is healthy and can play up to his potential, the Wolves have the makings of a nice team. There's hope in Minnesota for the first time in a while. I didn't think we would see that with McHale on the watch, but I was wrong.
Pekovic can't come over for a few years, but he's also a low-post bruiser who has put up big numbers in Europe.
Fox Sports Draft Grades - Mike Kahn
First round: Kevin Love, F, 6-10, 255, UCLA
Second round: Nikola Pekovic, C, 6-11, 245, C, Serbia
Maybe general manager Kevin McHale figured something out. With Love and Mike Miller coming in the trade from Memphis — to go along with budding young star Al Jefferson — they've suddenly got some nice pieces if Randy Foye can become the kind of playmaker the need. Either way, it was a good day for the Wolves whether you like O.J. Mayo better than Love or not — getting Miller makes it a good-looking deal.
First round: O.J. Mayo, SG, 6-5, 200 USC
Long after the draft was complete, the Grizzlies pulled off a blockbuster deal with the Minnesota Timberwolves, dealing the fifth overall pick in Kevin Love, with Mike Miller, Brian Cardinal and Jason Collins for the rights to Mayo, Antoine Walker, Marko Jaric and Greg Buckner. Trading Love and Miller for Mayo, plus taking Walker, Jaric and Buckner again smacks of a franchise more interesting in saving money than winning. No doubt, having Mayo and Rudy Gay on the wings is exciting, but they've got nothing up front.
SI.com: Late-night blockbuster: Mayo dealt to Grizzlies for Love, Miller
The Minnesota Timberwolves have traded No. 3 pick O.J. Mayo to the Memphis Grizzlies for Kevin Love in an eight-player, late-night blockbuster long after the NBA draft concluded.
The Grizzlies confirmed the deal shortly before holding an early Friday morning news conference. The Timberwolves also received shooter Mike Miller and frontcourt retreads Brian Cardinal and Jason Collins from Memphis in exchange for the draft rights to Mayo, forward Antoine Walker and guards Marko Jaric and Greg Buckner.
The deal allows the Timberwolves to dump Walker, who was unhappy riding the bench on a young 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 player who can play down low next to Al Jefferson on a formidable young front line.
The Grizzlies, in turn, get a dynamic guard in Mayo who was widely rated the third-best player in the draft behind Memphis guard Derrick Rose and Kansas State forward Michael Beasley, who went first and second, respectively. 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, a fundamentally sound 6-foot-10 power forward from UCLA, 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 Kansas State forward Michael 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."
It turns out that Mayo helped them for about four hours. McHale and the Wolves brass sat sequestered in the team's draft room for more than two hours after the draft concluded, hammering out the particulars of the deal. Collins only has one year left on his contract, making him a hot commodity on the NBA trade market. Cardinal has two years left, while Miller is the outside shooter the team has been craving for years.
Miller averaged 16.7 points and 6.7 rebounds a game and, most attractive the Wolves, shot 43 percent on 3-pointers last season.
Love set UCLA freshman records for scoring and rebounding on his way to being named conference player of the year in his only season with the Bruins. The Timberwolves were impressed by his passing, shooting range and knack for coming up with rebounds in traffic. In Walker and Buckner, the Grizzlies get two veterans whose best days are long behind them and a guard/forward in Jaric that never fulfilled the promise McHale had for him when he traded Sam Cassell and a first-round draft choice for Jaric in 2005.
Memphis also traded the rights to Syracuse forward Donte Greene, the No. 28 pick, in exchange for the rights to Darrell Arthur, who was picked 27th and traded three times. New Orleans dealt his rights to Portland, which then traded him to Houston. The Rockets then traded his rights to Memphis early Friday morning.