Flip Saunders still pushing for playoffs without Love, apparently

Flip Saunders still pushing for playoffs without Love, apparently
August 8, 2014, 3:45 pm
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Washington Wizards head coach Flip Saunders reacts during the first half against the Houston Rockets at the Verizon Center.

(Brad Mills-USA TODAY Sports)

Minnesota Timberwolves deserves ample credit for apparently pulling off a sizeable haul from the Cleveland Cavaliers in exchange for Kevin Love despite the hostage-like situation. Adding the last two No. 1 overall draft picks - Andrew Wiggins and Anthony Bennett - plus a 2015 first round pick make for nice building blocks. Presumably the Timberwolves are indeed thinking long-term considering they didn't sniff the postseason last year even with their All-Star power forward.

Saunders might have other thoughts.

The Philadelphia Daily News reported on Friday that the Timberwolves would involve the 76ers in the Love trade by sending a package headlined by Bennett to Philadelphia for veteran forward Thaddeus Young.

The deal, which two sources have confirmed to the Associated Press, will not be official until Aug. 23, when Wiggins, this year's No. 1 draft pick, becomes eligible to be traded.

It has been reported that Minnesota sees Young as the right guy to fill Love's shoes. The Timberwolves, it has been reported, could use the first-round pick they get from the Cavaliers to help entice the Sixers to part with the 26-year-old Young, but that has not been confirmed.

Minnesota hoped to shed salary as part of any deal involving Love, whether that's J.J. Barea's one-year deal for $4.5 million or Kevin Martin's three-year contract. Philadelphia has reportedly stated a willingness to take on short-term money so this could be factor. 

However, dealing Bennett and a number one pick goes against the idea of rebuilding. So does adding Young, who will make just shy of $19 million over the next two seasons before his contract ends in 2016. The power forward is only 26 and is coming off his best scoring season with 17.9 points. In other words, Young is a quality player, but he's not Love. 

Saunders returns to the bench for the first time this season since his time with the Wizards ended in January of 2012. After experiencing playoff success with the Detroit Pistons and his first stint in Minnesota -- and disaster in Washington, the 59-year-old probably doesn't want any part of any start-up.

But Saunders is also the GM. In fairness, the Wolves have some interesting pieces -- Nikola Pekovic, Ricky Rubio, Gorgui Deing. But most that group with Love finished nine games out of the playoffs. Even with Wiggins, Young and Zach LaVine, Minnesota's own first rounder, it's hard imaging the man in that player personnel seat thinking that's enough to crack the top eight teams out West.