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Minnesota Timberwolves went for good young players -- but not picks -- in Kevin Love deal

In light of the Kevin Love trade on Saturday, we've updated our analysis of superstar trades over the past decade. Minnesota did what a lot of smart small market teams did, go for good young players, cap space an a TE, rather than picks. Will it work?

Noah K. Murray-USA TODAY Sports

Kevin Love is a bonafide superstar and like a lot of superstars before him, he wanted out of a small market with limited resources.  Speculation was rampant early on that the Timberwolves price for the 6'10" All-Star would be  denominated in picks, young players and cap space, what teams losing superstars usually get in return.

On Saturday, Love was traded to Cleveland in a three-team deal that got the Timberwolves two (potentially) great young players, the overall No. 1 picks in 2013, Anthony Bennett,and 2014, Andrew Wiggins. They are 21 and 19. Plus, they added a solid --and young-- veteran in Thaddeus Young. He's only 26,. It also received a $6.3 million trade exception, that can be used to add another good player sometime in the next year.. Philadelphia, which helped facilitate the deal, wound up with Alexey Shved and Luc Mbah a Moute, two mediocre players on expiring deals, from Minnesota and the Heat's top-10 protected pick in the 2015 draft from Cleveland.

Nets fans are familiar with how this works, their team being on both sides of such deals over the years, in some cases with the same stars coming and going! So we did some analysis on how it all works and what to expect with Love, not that the Nets have much of a chance --if any at all-- getting him.

Here's some bottom lines:

--There have been a few exceptions but it's rare stars are traded straight up for stars. There's always some extra baggage to balance things and as such trades show, it's often doesn't turn out as good as it looks on paper, at least for one side. Some thought Allen Iverson for Chauncey Billups and Jason Kidd for Stephon Marbury would be win-win's. They weren't.

--Instead, it's that time-honored tradition of sending out expiring deals, draft picks, a good young player or two, a signed-and-traded player for a star or stars. If everything works out, there's a trade exception, too.

--Beyond that, there are some surprises when you look at superstar deals over the past decade.. For instance, if you look at the draft picks (not the draft rights) included in these deals, very, very few of them turned out well. What does work is cap space and good young players...particularly for small market teams.  Draft rights over draft picks?  It doesn't happen often but Memphis got a better payoff from the rights of Marc Gasol than they did from the picks in that deal.  That's exactly when Minnesota did here. They got no future picks in the deal, but they essentially got draft rights in Wiggins. You can scout draft rights. You can't know what you'll get with future picks.

For example, the two picks the Lakers received from the Grizzlies in the Pau Gasol deal were not major players in Memphis post-trade success. Donte Greene was traded to Sacramento and although Greivis Vasquez showed flashes, he developed after he left Memphis. But Marc Gasol, who Memphis had scouted in Spain, turned into a great asset. More importantly, the cap space the Grizzlies freed up helped them acquire and sign Zach Randolph and sign Rudy Gay. who did contribute before being dealt.

One of the two picks the Nets acquired in the Jason Kidd deal worked out, Ryan Anderson, but not for them. The other, Damion James, just won a championship with the Spurs after three failed chances with the Nets.  Devin Harris played well for two years, besting his averages in Dallas and making the All-Star team. The cap space the Nets received was either frittered away on bad deals like Travis Outlaw and Johan Petro or stashed away on one year deals.

One of the picks the Timberwolves got from the Celtics in return for Kevin Garnett paid off. Jonny Flynn is out of the league, but Nikola Pekovic, has developed nicely, although he too may be leaving. Al Jefferson, who was the key player in that deal, eventually went to Utah for more cap space.

The two picks the Raptors coveted in the Vince Carter trade turned into Joey Graham and Renaldo Balkman. They could have turned into Danny Granger and Rajon Rondo, but they didn't. Rob Babcock's successor as Raptor GM, Wayne Embry was smart enough to send one of those picks along with Jalen Rose to the Knicks in a salary dump, giving him extra cap space. Isiah Thomas was dumb enough to take Balkman (one place above Rondo).

The deal the Nuggets made for Carmelo Anthony is the classic case. Masai Ujiri, now with Toronto, focused on getting good young players..and some cap space and picks, lots of each actually.

Denver received three players who were averaging 15 points a game at the time in Danilo Gallinari (22), Raymond Felton (26), and Wilson Chandler (23), plus a seven-footer with potential, Timofey Mozgov (24). All were either on rookie deals or short-term contracts. Felton became Andre Miller, not a bad deal. And all the cap space from the deal helped them sign Gallinari to a long-term deal. Only the most loyal of Knick fans still think New York won this trade. And the four picks the Nuggets acquired, the Knicks first rounder in 2014, the swap of first first rounders in 2016 and the Warriors two second rounders in 2012, which became Quincy Miller and 2013, which went to the Magic in the Dwight Howard deal. Not to mention James Dolan is $6 million poorer.

Here's a summary of a dozen superstar trades (plus a Nets-centric deal) over the past decade. They're posted in reverse order. Draft picks, if exercised, are shown in parentheses. Players marked with an asterisk had expiring or non-guaranteed deals or a team option. A signed-and-traded player gets a hashtag. Sometimes a pick shows up in two trades because it was moved.

--July 12, 2013. The Brooklyn Nets acquire Paul Pierce*, Kevin Garnet, Jason Terry and D.J. White* from the Boston Celtics for Kris Humphries*, Gerald Wallace, Keith Bogans#, MarShon Brooks*, Kris Joseph*, the Nets unprotected first round picks in 2014 (James Young), 2016 and 2018 plus the right to swap first round picks in 2017.  The Celtics also received a $10.4 million TE which they used a year later to acquire Tyler Zeller, Marcus Thornton* and the Cavaliers' top-10 protected 2016 first rounder for a second rounder. (In that same deal, the Nets got Jarrett Jack, Sergey Karasev. for Thornton and the rights to two Europeans.)

--August 11, 2012.  Orlando Magic acquire Arron Afflalo and Al Harrington from Denver and Moe Harkless and Nikola Vucevic from Philadelphia and Josh McRoberts and guard Christian Eyenga* from the Lakers. The Magic also will get a second-round draft pick from Denver in 2013 (Romero Osby), a first-round pick from either Denver or New York in 2014 (Dario Saric), a conditional first-round pick from Philadelphia and a conditional second-round pick from the Lakers in 2015, and a conditional first-round pick from the Lakers in 2017. Orlando also will have a $17.8 million trade exception to use over the next year.

The Lakers received  Dwight Howard, Chris Duhon# and Earl Clark# from Orlando.

The 76ers received Jason Richardson from Orlando and Andrew Bynum from Los Angeles.

The Nugggets received Andre Iguodala* from Philadelphia.

--July 11, 2012: The Brooklyn Nets acquired Joe Johnson from the Atlanta Hawks for Jordan Farmar*, Jordan Williams*, DeShawn Stevenson#, Johan Petro*, Anthony Morrow* and the Rockets' 2013 lottery protected first round pick (Shane Larkin), the Nets 2017 second round pick as well as the right to swap first round picks in 2014 and 2016.

--December 15, 2011: The Los Angeles Clippers acquired Chris Paul plus the Hornets and Grizzlies' second round picks in 2015 from the New Orleans Hornets for Eric Gordon, Chris Kaman*, Al-Farouq Aminu and the Timberwolves' unprotected 2012 first-round pick.

--February 23, 2011: The New Jersey Nets acquired Deron Williams from the Utah Jazz for Devin Harris, Derrick Favors and two first round picks, their own (Enes Kanter) and the Golden State Warriors in 2013 (Giorgu Dieng who when combined with the Jazz own pick became Trey Burke, and $3 million in cash.

--February 21, 2011: the Denver Nuggets acquired Wilson Chandler, Raymond Felton, Danilo Gallinari and Timofey Mozgov, a first-round pick in 2014 (Dario Saric), the right to swap first rounders in 2016; the Warriors’ 2012 second-round pick (Quincy Miller), the Warriors’ 2013 second-round pick (Romero Orsby), and $3 million in cash, all from the Knicks and Kosta Koufos from the Timberwolves

The New York Knicks received Carmelo Anthony, Chauncey Billups, Shelden Williams*, Anthony Carter* and Renaldo Balkman from Denver and Corey Brewer from the Timberwolves…who they then released.

Minnesota got Anthony Randolph, Eddy Curry*, who they then released, and $3 million in cash from New York and the Nuggets’ 2015 second round pick.

--November 3, 2008: The Detroit Pistons acquired Allen Iverson from the Denver Nuggets for Chauncey Billups, Antonio McDyess* and Cheikh Samb*.

--February 18, 2008: The Dallas Mavericks acquired Jason Kidd, Malik Allen*, and Antoine Wright* from the New Jersey Nets for Devin Harris, DeSagana Diop*, Trenton Hassell, Maurice Ager, Keith Van Horn#, two first round picks (Ryan Anderson in 2008 and Damion James and 2010), and cash considerations believed to be $3 million. The Nets also received a $3.3 million trade exception.

--February 6, 2008: The Phoenix Suns acquired Shaquille O'Neal from the Miami Heat for Shawn Marion* and Marcus Banks.

--February 2, 2008: The Los Angeles Lakers acquired Pau Gasol and a 2010 second round draft pick from the Memphis Grizzlies for Kwame Brown*, Javaris Crittenton, a signed and traded Aaron McKie*, the draft rights to the #48 pick in the 2007 NBA Draft, Marc Gasol, and two future first round picks (Donte Greene and Greivis Vasquez).

--July 31, 2007: The Boston Celtics acquired Kevin Garnett from the Minnesota Timberwolves for Ryan Gomes, Gerald Green*, Al Jefferson, Theo Ratliff*, Sebastian Telfair, the return to Minnesota of the future first round pick (Jonny Flynn) that was initially traded to Boston on January 26, 2006, and a future first round pick from Boston (Nikola Pekovic). Simultaneous with the trade, Kevin Garnett removed his ability to opt out after the 2007-2008 season and then signed a multi-year contract extension with the Boston Celtics which will begin in the 2009-2010 season.

--June 28, 2007: The Boston Celtics acquired Ray Allen and the draft rights to the #35 pick in the 2007 NBA Draft, Glen Davis, from the Seattle Supersonics for Wally Szczerbiak, Delonte West, the draft rights to the #5 pick in the 2007 NBA Draft, Jeff Green, and the better of Boston's own 2008 second round pick and Portland's own 2008 second round pick (Trent Plaisted).

--December 19, 2006: The Denver Nuggets acquired Allen Iverson and Ivan McFarlin* from the Philadelphia 76ers for Andre Miller, Joe Smith*, and two 2007 first round draft picks (Daequan Cook and Petteri Koponen).

-- December 17, 2004: The New Jersey Nets acquired Vince Carter from the Toronto Raptors in exchange for Alonzo Mourning, Aaron Williams, Eric Williams and two first-round draft picks (Joey Graham and Renaldo Balkman).

--July 15, 2004: The New Jersey Nets signed Kenyon Martin to a seven-year, $91 million contract with a $1.5 million signing bonus and a player option after the 6th season, then traded him to Denver for three future first round picks (Joey Graham, Renaldo Balkman and Marcus Williams). The Nets also received a $5.2 million trade exception.

--July 14, 2004: The Los Angeles Lakers traded Shaquille O'Neal to the Miami Heat for Lamar Odom, Caron Butler, Brian Grant*, and a future first round draft pick (Jordan Farmar).