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Love ‘em and leave ‘em

Being wrong comes with living, it happens as sure as you breath and blink.

Admitting when you’re wrong doesn’t appeal to most people, but when it’s in print for all to read, just own up to it.

With my time dwindling down here in Detroit Lakes, I would like to own up to one of my worst calls in my 16-year career here.

It happened after the 2008 NBA Draft, when the Minnesota Timberwolves swapped their No. 3 overall pick O.J. Mayo of USC for Memphis’ No. 5 pick Kevin Love of UCLA.

I was enthralled with the shooting potential of Mayo and was pretty satisfied when Kevin McHale selected him at No. 3.

Later in the night, a trade went down with McHale swapping for Love with Mayo (sounds like some kind of unpopular sandwich at a greasy spoon), along with Mike Miller thrown in the package for the Wolves.

I wrote a hyperbole-filled column of the trade, one in which pretty much was wrong since Love’s rookie year in 2008.

Here’s a portion of my badness: “Yes, Love can be a solid producer and Miller can shoot the ball. Not looking too bad.

“But Anger still has his way, reminding me that Love will only rise to be a good role player — not a potential superstar and face-of-the-franchise type of player like Mayo can be.”

Whiff and whiff again.

Here’s the third whiff: “It will be hard to see Mayo flourish in the coming years and Love become a good, solid player — but only what he probably will be, a role player.”

It was in fact, the exact opposite, with Love being the face of a franchise, while Mayo has bounced to and fro on three different teams.

The stats will not lie that Love has become a top-flight player: 4,453 rebounds, 898 assists, 6,989 points, 36.2 three-point percentage and a 45.1 shooting percentage.

Mayo hasn’t had a spectacular career, but instead a very solid one. His stats are more pedestrian: 1,141 rebounds, 1,292 assists, 38 three-point percentage and a 43.3 shooting percentage.

But where Love flourished is he racked up those impressive stats as a forward, becoming one of the best in his position.

How important of a player has Love become since the 2008 draft and his time being the face of the Minnesota franchise?

The best player on the planet now wants Love to be his teammate in Cleveland, where a new Tremendous Three can be formed in Lebron James, Love and point guard Kyrie Irving.

Mayo’s niche’ in the NBA is that of a solid journeyman guard, not the missing piece to a potential championship run.

The T-Wolves have once again put a franchise changing player on the trading mantel and are currently in heated talks with Cleveland involving Love.

Kevin Garnett was the first such player the Wolves traded, as he moved on to win a title with Boston and Minnesota moved on into NBA obscurity, with no playoff appearances since that trade.

Love will be going to a perfect place in Cleveland, since he truly was not a franchise carrying type of player, much like Garnett wasn’t during his time in Minnesota.

Neither was the type to hoist the team on their shoulders under pressurized situations and go out and win the game.

Both were, though, stat machines, ones who are perfect number two’s, who compliment an elite player very well.

Minnesota found that out with Love, with no playoff berths when he was here. He simply didn’t have the help, obviously.

But an elite player, such as James or a Michael Jordan, would still be good enough to get his team in the playoffs and win a series or two with even a bunch of outcasts for a team.

Now, the Wolves’ GM Flip Saunders can sweep the Love years out the window and start building with another star potential for the future.

The Cavs are offering this year’s No. 1 overall pick, Kansas’ Andrew Wiggins, who is a 19-year-old athletic freak.

The Wolves also would receive last year’s No. 1 overall pick, Anthony Bennett, who fell out of favor in Cleveland after finding too many after-game buffets, along with a future first-round pick.

The mantel piece is, of  course, Wiggins.

The future of the Wolves would be better off with a Wiggins-led team than one with Love at the head. We saw what Love can offer...quite a bit, but just not quite enough.

Wiggins does have that potential to become that top-elite player, one who can carry teams to playoff berths and wins.

Love will surely have a few rings if he teams up with James in Cleveland, because they provide the perfect complement to each other.

There were other solid offers to the Wolves for Love, but the one with Cleveland seemed to make the most sense.

Another “almost” guarantee is the Wolves will have some higher draft picks in the next several years to help build around Wiggins.

One piece in place already is Ricky Rubio, along with a couple of very young, athletic players in Zach LaVine and Shabazz Muhammad.

It will be a long rebuilding project if Wiggins lands in Minnesota, but once again, there will be some hope the Wolves have finally grabbed their next franchise player.

Nah, I won’t be as committed to that prediction as I was with the Mayo/Love one.

Because when one is wrong, you need to live and learn.

That’s exactly what I did…learn to not expect much when it deals with the Wolves.

Brian Wierima
Detroit Lakes Newspapers Sports Editor for the last 15 years. St. Cloud State University graduate, who hails from Deer Creek, MN.