TrueHoop: Zach Harper

Gift of Love: 29 trades for 29 teams

May, 21, 2014
May 21
11:07
AM ET
Harper By Zach Harper
Special to ESPN.com
Archive
Kevin LoveBrad Rempel/USA TODAY Sports
The end is nigh. Or so it seems. Reports about Kevin Love’s uncertain future with the Minnesota Timberwolves are coming out left and right. Every team in the league is positioning itself to capture the star power on the market right now.

With the draft a little more than a month away, it would behoove the Timberwolves to maximize the trade market now while cap flexibility, draft picks and crushed lottery night dreams are fresh in the minds of the potential suitors.

The Wolves don’t have the upper hand in this situation, but they do have the ability to leverage ravenous front offices against one another and create a trade-market bidding war. As team president Flip Saunders and owner Glen Taylor face a gut-check moment of whether to risk Love leaving for nothing in summer 2015, here are the deals I would blow up their phones with if I were in charge of one of the 29 teams in the league.


Atlanta Hawks


The deal: Trade Machine

Hawks receive: Kevin Love
Wolves receive: Paul Millsap, Dennis Schroder, the rights to Lucas Nogueira, No. 15 pick in 2014

This is a big haul for the Hawks to give up, with three rotation guys plus the pick going to Minnesota. But pairing Love and Al Horford together in Mike Budenholzer’s offense would be an alien invasion without Bill Pullman and Will Smith to fight it off. For the Wolves, Millsap is a nice option you can win with now and flip if he isn’t happy; Schroder is the backup point guard they crave; and Nogueira would give the Wolves a tandem with Gorgui Dieng that makes Nikola Pekovic and his contract expendable.


Boston Celtics


The deal: Trade Machine

Celtics receive: Kevin Love
Wolves receive: Kelly Olynyk, Jared Sullinger, Brandon Bass, Phil Pressey, Vitor Faverani, Nos. 6 and 17 picks in 2014, Celtics’ first-round pick in 2016

Here, the Wolves are basically getting the picks and then a bunch of cap filler and former first-rounders. There’s no reason to pretend Olynyk and Sullinger would be pieces for the Wolves at all. Being a Wolves fan since they've come into the NBA, I am pretty good at recognizing overvalued first-round picks who won’t be as good as you hope they are. This is about the picks, and with Nos. 6, 13 and 17 in this draft, they could load up or move up.


Brooklyn Nets

The deal: Trade Machine

Nets receive: Kevin Love
Wolves receive: The 2003 Kevin Garnett

Look, I don’t know how owner Mikhail Prokhorov got his hands on a time machine, either, but billionaires have access to things we don’t. Let’s just take advantage of the opportunity to grab 2003 Kevin Garnett and get this team back into the playoffs.


Charlotte Hornets


The deal: Trade Machine

Hornets receive: Kevin Love
Wolves receive: Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, Cody Zeller, Gary Neal, Nos. 9 and 24 picks in 2014

The Wolves never got to truly test out the Al Jefferson-Love big man tandem because Love wasn’t that great yet and Jefferson hurt his knee. They get a redo in Charlotte in this scenario, and with coach Steve Clifford’s defensive stylings, it could actually work.

Wolves would get a former No. 2 pick with potential; Zeller, whom they were enamored with before last year’s draft; and two first-round picks. The Pistons conceding the No. 9 pick to the Bobcats makes this a very attractive deal.


Chicago Bulls


The deal: Trade Machine

Bulls receive: Kevin Love
Wolves receive: Carlos Boozer, Jimmy Butler, the rights to Nikola Mirotic, Ronnie Brewer, Nos. 16 and 19 picks in 2014

Of the most realistic trade scenarios for the Wolves in unloading Love for assets, cap relief and picks, this is probably the best move they could make, unless Phoenix is willing to be bold. You could also swap out Boozer for Taj Gibson, but his long-term money isn’t ideal for a rebuilding team. The Wolves could flip him to a contender later. The Bulls would be giving up a lot, but a big three of Joakim Noah, Love and Derrick Rose (assuming he's healthy) is an amazing way to battle whatever the Heat end up being after this season.


Cleveland Cavaliers


The deal: Trade Machine

Cavaliers receive: Kevin Love
Wolves receive: Tristan Thompson, Dion Waiters, Alonzo Gee, No. 1 pick in 2014

Why would the Cavaliers possibly trade the No. 1 pick in a loaded class, plus three rotation players, for Love? Because they seem to have a pipe dream of bringing LeBron James back to Cleveland this summer and this is the way to do it. It’s not stockpiling a bunch of young role players for James to play alongside. He wants to play with stars, and having Love and Kyrie Irving in tow would go a long way.


Dallas Mavericks


Mavericks receive: Kevin Love
Wolves receive: 2011 NBA championship banner and one free pass for a business idea on “Shark Tank”

I’ve always had a problem with teams hanging up “division title” banners in an arena because it seems like a lower-level franchise thing to do. Considering the Wolves are about to lose their best player and potentially miss the playoffs for an 11th straight season, it’s safe to consider them on that lower level right now.

It would be nice to take down the 2003-04 division title banner and replace it with a championship banner. And the extra revenue from getting a business idea funded through “Shark Tank” could give this organization a little extra money to play around with during the next few years. The Wolves are renovating their arena, so they could use the cash.


Denver Nuggets


The deal: Trade Machine

Nuggets receive: Kevin Love, Kevin Martin
Wolves receive: Kenneth Faried, Danilo Gallinari, Darrell Arthur, Randy Foye, No. 11 pick in 2014

Coach Brian Shaw gets his coveted big-time power forward and a nice offensive complement to Ty Lawson in the backcourt. While Martin isn't even close to being a defender, he at least has some size to utilize on offense.

The Wolves get a lot of quality players and a couple of veterans (Arthur and Foye) they can flip. They could even add a lottery pick here in this draft, although this sort of feels like a lot in return. Oh, who cares? The Wolves get to be greedy here.


Detroit Pistons


Pistons receive: Kevin Love
Wolves receive: Stan Van Gundy

I don't want your horrible Josh Smith contract and shot selection that makes most government agencies look like well-oiled machines. I don’t want an improbable sign-and-trade deal with Greg Monroe. I don’t want any of the young players. I don’t even want the pick. I want SVG in all of his coaching glory and I’m willing to relinquish this fake GM power to him when the trade is completed. I’m going full-on Veruca Salt on this one. I want Stan Van Gundy to coach the Wolves and I want it now!


Golden State Warriors


The deal: Trade Machine

Warriors receive: Kevin Love, Kevin Martin
Wolves receive: David Lee, Harrison Barnes, Klay Thompson, right to swap picks in 2015 and 2016

I don’t actually think this is a good trade, but it allows me to bring up a point. I get the mindset of wanting to maximize the value you receive in a trade versus what you’re sending out. But there are Warriors fans worried about giving up Thompson and Barnes in a deal for Love, while ridding themselves of Lee’s contract. Back when the Clippers were trading for Chris Paul, there were fans and writers who thought it was a bad idea to include Eric Gordon. Think about that now. Sometimes it can get out of hand for players who probably won’t be All-Stars.


Houston Rockets


The deal: Trade Machine

Rockets receive: Kevin Love
Wolves receive: Jeremy Lin, Donatas Motiejunas, Chandler Parsons, Jordan Hamilton, first-round picks in 2015 and 2017

This is an incredibly tricky situation because while the Rockets have lots of assets to move, the inclusion of Parsons makes the deal really difficult. The Wolves would need to pick up his team option for next season, but that means he’s an unrestricted free agent in 2015. How likely is it that he will want to stay in Minnesota?

Lin’s contract will cost more than owner Glen Taylor wants to pay for a non-winning team. Motiejunas would be the best prospect in the deal and you’re taking late first-round picks in the future. Can we just forget this deal and ask Hakeem Olajuwon to be an adviser to the Wolves instead?


Indiana Pacers


The deal: Trade Machine

Pacers receive: Kevin Love, Nikola Pekovic
Wolves receive: Roy Hibbert, David West

I want to see just how good of a coach Frank Vogel is. The Wolves were 29th in defending the restricted area this season, and I would guess the only reason they weren’t the worst is because of Dieng’s late-season rim defense. The Pacers were the best at defending the rim this season. Can Vogel keep that defensive prowess with these non-shot-blockers? Can the Wolves defend the rim with these two big men? These two teams don’t match up at all in the trade department, so we might as well experiment.


Los Angeles Clippers


The deal: Trade Machine

Clippers receive: Kevin Love, Kevin Martin
Wolves receive: Blake Griffin, Jamal Crawford

I don’t know why the Clippers would ever do this trade, but it’s unfair for other fan bases to have all of the fun and none of the depression. Griffin gets to receive alley-oop passes from Ricky Rubio while Crawford dazzles the media members with his dribbling and charm.

The Clippers get another shooter to stretch the floor to allow DeAndre Jordan to further develop. Martin wouldn’t exactly add anything to what the Clippers do now, but again, I’m sick of all the depression in these scenarios, so just take one for the team, please.


Los Angeles Lakers


The deal: Trade Machine

Lakers receive: Kevin Love
Wolves receive: Steve Nash, Robert Sacre, Nick Young, MarShon Brooks, No. 7 pick in 2014, future first-round pick, Flip Saunders gets a statue outside Staples Center, Minneapolis Lakers’ title banners

In this scenario, I suffered a head injury when I tried to pull off one of those 360 layups Swaggy P loves to do so much and I fell into the celebrating elbows of Sacre. It left me a little woozy, but I think I came up with a good deal to finally get Love to Los Angeles. Nash's deal is expiring, Sacre and Ronny Turiaf form the greatest bench-cheering duo ever, Young gets to teach me that layup and Brooks is cap filler. Those Minneapolis Lakers banners will look great at Target Center, too.


Memphis Grizzlies


The deal: Trade Machine

Grizzlies receive: Kevin Love, Kevin Martin
Wolves receive: Zach Randolph, James Johnson, Jon Leuer, Jamaal Franklin, first-round pick in 2017

This does one thing that’s pretty cool: It gives a Grizzlies team that struggled to score in the half court two very good half-court scorers. They lose some toughness but they can actually round out their overall game quite a bit. For the Wolves, it gives them the potential for a Pekovic-Randolph-Johnson frontcourt, which, if Randolph opts in this summer, will protect Minnesota when the zombie apocalypse happens. Nobody is taking out that frontcourt.


Miami Heat


The deal: Trade Machine

Heat receive: Kevin Love, Kevin Martin
Wolves receive: Chris Bosh, Norris Cole, right to swap first-round picks in 2016 and 2018

The Wolves are torn between a full-on rebuild (try selling that to the fans again during this decade-long playoff drought) and trying to still find a way to sneak into the playoffs. Granted, Bosh has to agree to this deal by not opting out of his contract this summer, but the Wolves would at least remain hyper-competitive on the playoff bubble. They’d also grab a backup point guard who isn’t as erratic as the incumbent, J.J. Barea.

The Heat get younger and give LeBron the chance to really have a great second scorer with him in his next deal in Miami.


Milwaukee Bucks


The deal: Trade Machine

Bucks receive: Kevin Love
Wolves receive: Larry Sanders, O.J. Mayo, No. 2 pick in 2014, Wisconsin has to pretend the Vikings are the best team in the league

Sure, Sanders has the potential to be a nice defender in this league for a long time, Mayo would be a possible cap-relief trade chip in a year and the No. 2 pick, whoever it ends up being, could be a major star in this league. But the win here for Minnesota is Wisconsin having to pretend the Vikings are the best. A fan base that was 27th in attendance in the NBA and 13th in attendance in the NFL doesn't really care how they make out in any Love deal. They just want the football win. Vikings fans aren't used to getting a lot of those.


New Orleans Pelicans


The deal: Trade Machine

Pelicans receive: Kevin Love, Chase Budinger
Wolves receive: Anthony Davis, Eric Gordon

Sure, you guys are laughing at me and how ridiculous this is, but in my head the deal has been made and I’m doing a little dance of celebration. Have your laughter, and I’ll have my delusional mind, and never the twain shall meet.


New York Knicks


The deal: Trade Machine

Knicks receive: Kevin Love
Wolves receive: [processing ...]

The Knicks gave up a first-round pick to get Andrea Bargnani. Comparable value means they’d have to give up the entire Wall Street district for Love. I can’t even pretend there is a combination here that works for the Wolves. Maybe they could do a double sign-and-trade and swap Love for Carmelo Anthony? Someone ask cap guru Larry Coon if this is allowed. Can we get a reality show just recording La La’s face when Melo has to tell her they’re moving to Minneapolis?


Oklahoma City Thunder


The deal: Trade Machine

Thunder receive: Kevin Love, Kevin Martin
Wolves receive: Serge Ibaka, Jeremy Lamb, Perry Jones III, Hasheem Thabeet, Mavericks’ first-round pick in 2014, Thunder’s first-round pick in 2017

I’m not going to be unrealistic and pretend Kevin Durant or Russell Westbrook are in play here, but there’s no reason the Wolves can’t ask for Ibaka, while also unloading Martin’s deal (three years, $20 million left) and picking up young talent in Lamb and Jones, a first-round pick this year and an unprotected pick in 2017. Why 2017? Let’s pretend this Thunder thing doesn’t work out and Love and Durant both leave in 2016. In this scenario, the Wolves position themselves to take advantage of a team falling apart. It’s like what every team does to Minnesota every single time it trades a draft pick.


Orlando Magic


The deal: Trade Machine

Magic receive: Kevin Love, No. 13 pick in 2014
Wolves receive: Victor Oladipo, Andrew Nicholson, Jameer Nelson, No. 4 pick in 2014

I recognize that the Wolves getting the No. 2 pick from last year’s draft plus the No. 4 pick in this draft seems like a lot, but Love is a lot better than Oladipo and it’s not all that close. Even if Oladipo maximizes his potential, he’s probably not reaching Love’s status. Flip was enamored with Oladipo heading into the 2013 draft and would probably be willing to swap firsts with the Magic this year in order to complete this trade.


Philadelphia 76ers


The deal: Trade Machine

76ers receive: Kevin Love, Kevin Martin
Wolves receive: Thaddeus Young, Jason Richardson, Nos. 3 and 10 picks in 2014

The Wolves get a young asset, cap relief and two lottery picks in this draft in exchange for Love and getting rid of Martin’s deal. It sounds like the Sixers are giving up a lot here, but they have assets to spare. You’re teaming Love with a defensive-minded center in Nerlens Noel and a pass-first point guard in Michael Carter-Williams. Plus, the Sixers still have room to add another major player.


Phoenix Suns


The deal: Trade Machine

Suns receive: Kevin Love
Wolves receive: Eric Bledsoe, Timberwolves' first-round pick in 2015

This is the dream scenario. The Wolves would have to convince Bledsoe to want to play in Minnesota, and then execute a sign-and-trade. Most likely, they’d have to max out Bledsoe in the process. The Suns do it because of the knee concern for Bledsoe, and Love is a much better player who fits coach Jeff Hornacek’s style of play. Getting their top-12 protected pick back for dumping Wes Johnson in Phoenix helps, too. It’s a risk by the Suns and a concession by the Wolves, but this is the “fingers crossed” scenario.


Portland Trail Blazers


The deal: Trade Machine

Trail Blazers receive: Kevin Love, medium-quality bike lanes from Minneapolis
Wolves receive: LaMarcus Aldridge, second-best bike lanes from Portland

This needs to happen and it doesn’t have anything to do with basketball. I just want to see both fan bases reverse course on the vitriol thrown each other’s way when discussing which power forward is better. The Blazers fans would have to embrace Love as the top PF while the Wolves fans pretend they never meant the things they said about Aldridge’s rebounding.

The bike lane aspect of this trade would really help Portland take back its title as top cycling city in the country.


Sacramento Kings


The deal: Trade Machine

Kings receive: Kevin Love, Kevin Martin
Wolves receive: DeMarcus Cousins, Derrick Williams, Jason Terry

This one doesn't even involve a draft pick because Cousins has so much potential. The Kings can take a big man with the No. 8 pick this year and pair him next to Love. Martin returns to Sacramento and doesn't have Tyreke Evans to hog the ball and make him want to get out of town. Terry is salary-cap relief for the Wolves, and they can to try a do-over with Williams. This trade can’t happen until after July 1, so that and reality are the only two hang-ups right now.


San Antonio Spurs


Spurs receive: Kevin Love
Wolves receive: Gregg Popovich

This works out perfectly in a couple of ways. Let’s say the Spurs win the title this year and we see Tim Duncan and Manu Ginobili ride off into the sunset. Love would immediately be the replacement for Duncan and give the Spurs a bridge from this era into the next successful one.

For the Wolves, I don’t even want to subject Popovich to coaching the team. He should just be a consultant for a month and let the organization know all of the awful ways in which they do things and the way the Spurs “would never consider something like this.” He’d essentially be The Wolf in "Pulp Fiction" for Minnesota.


Toronto Raptors


The deal: Trade Machine

Raptors receive: Kevin Love
Wolves receive: Jonas Valanciunas, Terrence Ross, John Salmons, No. 20 pick in 2014, Knicks’ first-round pick in 2016

It would leave the Raptors searching for a big man to protect the paint, but in today’s NBA, you could get away with a Love-Amir Johnson frontcourt against a lot of teams. The Wolves get the young assets they crave, the draft picks they need and the cap relief necessary to keep their options open. They’d have to move Pekovic next, and they don’t get rid of Martin's contract in this scenario, but it’s a good start to the rebuilding plan. This might be a lot for the Raptors to give up, but general manager Masai Ujiri can just fleece the next four trades he makes and even it all out.


Utah Jazz


The deal: Trade Machine

Jazz receive: Kevin Love
Wolves receive: Derrick Favors, Jeremy Evans, John Lucas III, Rudy Gobert, No. 5 pick in 2014

Requesting the Jazz’s top big man and the fifth pick is asking Utah to do the Wolves quite the ... Favor(s) ... you know? No? Wait, where are you guys going? I still have one more team to poach players from!


Washington Wizards


The deal: Trade Machine

Wizards receive: Kevin Love, Kevin Martin
Wolves receive: Bradley Beal, Nene

This would be an incredibly tough decision for the Wizards to make. They have one of the best young shooting guards in the NBA, and pairing him with John Wall would produce an awesome tandem for a decade. And yet, they could upgrade for Love while still keeping a scorer at the shooting guard position. In the process, they’d rid themselves of the long-term money owed to Nene. They would owe long-term money to Martin, though.

It’s not an ideal scenario in a few ways, but you’d be making this team a big threat. Plus, it would give coach Randy Wittman a chance to apologize for telling a young Love that he should abandon the 3-point shot.

'Bruise Brothers' the answer for Wolves?

January, 2, 2014
Jan 2
1:43
AM ET
Harper By Zach Harper
Special to ESPN.com
Archive

As this reconstruction of the Minnesota Timberwolves franchise has been executed over the past few years, the idea of putting Kevin Love next to a frontcourt bruiser never seemed to be high on the list of priorities.

Find a scoring forward like Michael Beasley to form a dynamic, productive duo? They tried that.

Make sure Ricky Rubio comes over from Spain and starts cashing in on the hype and potential to make him the apotheosis of successful pure point guard play? That’s still a work in progress that could be under construction longer than the city planned.

Making Nikola Pekovic the bulldozer to Love’s wrecking ball may not have been the initial plan, but it has developed over the past three years as Pekovic became a viable option in the paint. When he re-signed with the Wolves for five years and $60 million, new president of basketball operations Flip Saunders seemed to have a vision of how this team would play.

Punishing.

“We envision Pek and Kevin Love being the ‘Bruise Brothers’ and forming one of the best front courts in the NBA for a long time to come,” Saunders said during a news conference this summer to announce the Pekovic re-up.

Wednesday night against a more modern, less conventional New Orleans Pelicans’ attack, the Wolves put that style into effect. They allowed Anthony Davis to chase Love around the perimeter. They took advantage of Ryan Anderson giving up roughly 50 pounds of brute strength to Pekovic in the post. And the Wolves lived at the free-throw line like they were designed to do.

The Wolves shot 35 free throws on the night, 31 of them coming through the first three quarters when the game was pretty much decided. It was the 10th time they attempted at least 30 free throws in a game this season and the eighth time they won such a game. When they get their mail forwarded to the line, they’re hard to beat, and that seems to be the plan.

“Well, it’s kind of the way we want to play,” Rubio said after the 124-112 victory, “Because that means we've been aggressive and we go to attack the rim. We don’t take too many shots from outside when things are going well.

"It’s been our problem when we don’t feel good, we start taking shots that don’t make sense. We don’t get to the free throw line and that allows them to get fast break [opportunities] too. We control the game from the beginning.”

If the Wolves are going to snap roughly a decade of watching the playoffs from their vacation spots, they have to remember their identity: Move the ball and get to the free-throw line. Abuse the competition inside. Let Love take the attention from the defense and then allow Pekovic to control the paint.

Everybody can play off of that and be aggressive.

“It was good for us, plays to our advantage,” Corey Brewer said. “Somebody has to guard Love out on the perimeter and someone has to guard Pek inside, so you have to pick your poison.”

There are still plenty of issues for this Wolves team. The bench needs consistency, the defense needs to protect the rim while keeping with the strategy of not fouling, and the outside shots need to fall when they’re created. But everything starts with bruising the interior and living at the free-throw line. They can still play the modern style of up-tempo and creating open looks, but it starts in the paint.

“Nights like today, when maybe they want to stop Kevin Love, we have another guy like Pek,” Rubio explained, “And he’s strong and if you don’t put a big body on him, [Pekovic is] going to destroy him.”

Learning to Love again in Minnesota

November, 15, 2013
11/15/13
12:59
PM ET
Harper By Zach Harper
Special to ESPN.com
Archive
Kevin LoveAP Photo/Paul SancyaIt's hard to appreciate Kevin Love's torrid start to 2013-14 with his potential departure looming.
Kevin Love’s head stays down in the postgame media scrum these days. With his Minnesota Timberwolves off to an impressive start, you’d expect a more cheery mood from the 6-foot-10 power forward. He’s putting up video game numbers, but the genial guy we’re used to seeing has become a calculated responder. It’s hard to get.

Love doesn't open up like he used to. He refuses to be baited into questions about the past or the future. Ask about his ability to opt out of his current deal in summer 2015 and you’ll hear about how he’s focused on getting better each day. Candor has been replaced by clichés, although we’re treated to a quip every now and again.

Reticence was a tough lesson for Love to learn, but it was a lesson that was necessary. The outspoken big man, voted by league executives as the player who does the most with the least even though his skills far surpass those of your typical 4, was emerging in a hospitable, Midwestern market.

Love expressed dissatisfaction last season with a front office that few, if any, in the Twin Cities supported. Yet he was seen as ungrateful, rather than unwilling to waste precious time in his career like a previous Kevin in this organization. Show a bit of unruliness that can be spun on airwaves as an egotistical attitude in any city and you’ll be torched. Do it in Minnesota and it becomes one of two common sentiments: “Nobody wants to play here” or “We’re destined to lose the big games because that’s what happens in Minnesota sports.”

Most of us have experienced the unraveling of a relationship like Love’s tenuous bond with Minnesota. Whether you’re the dumper or the dumpee, there are always signals that show things are going south. Tempers flare up more often. The romance begins to dwindle. The fire gets downgraded to sparks and the sparks eventually become dormant. Soon you’re left wondering what you’re even doing in this situation.

When a relationship appears to be at its end, it’s better to get out early. You don’t want to wait so long that all each party has in the end are feelings of resentment and bitterness. Nobody wants to be left wondering why it didn’t work or how you’ll get your favorite shirt back. That’s where Minnesota is with Love as we creep closer and closer to 2015.

The dynamics between Timberwolves fans and their star player have been strange. Most assume he’s leaving a year and a half from now. Why wouldn't he? Minneapolis is a great city with a lot of recreational options and local scenes -- the Austin, Texas, of the north, if you will -- but it lacks the allure of a place such as Los Angeles, especially if you’re a big-time athlete. It’s freezing here during the NBA season. When the weather is beautiful, it’s the offseason, when players scatter elsewhere to train.

Where do they like to go? Los Angeles.

There is no denying that the Lakers would have interest in Love should they have the cap space necessary to sign him in a year and a half. And there is no denying that Love, who played a year at UCLA, is enchanted by the city. Such circumstances make it seem as though a breakup is inevitable -- or at least probable -- which strains the relationship in Minnesota.
[+] EnlargeRussell Westbrook, Kevin Love
David Sherman/NBAE/Getty ImagesFans worry that former Bruins Russell Westbrook and Kevin Love could end up back in L.A. together.

There seems to be a defeatist attitude in the area. Too many losses have piled up, whether it be on the court/field/ice or in the offseason. It’s hard to be hurt over and over again. Some feel inclined to break up with Love before he breaks up with them.

In turn, Love has become a bit reserved. Being yourself leaves you open and vulnerable, but being guarded allows you to set the tone of what gets let in and who controls your reality. Love has clearly chosen the latter, even as the Wolves gather steam.

That, of course, is the irony: While the Love situation has never seemed more dire, things have never looked better for the Wolves in the six seasons Love has been there. Instead of throwing outlet passes to Wesley Johnson and Michael Beasley, they’re going to the infinitely more capable Corey Brewer and Kevin Martin. And after missing 64 games in 2012-13, Love has reminded fans and media just how good he is. His 30.77 player efficiency rating is best in the entire NBA, and the Wolves, at 6-3, are only a half-game behind Portland for the Northwest Division lead.

We’re seeing Love locked in on both ends of the floor, proving he’s a leader on the court. We’re seeing the hedging against this team’s potential success dissipate while acceptance of this team’s ability washes over the fan base. We’re seeing a desperate march toward the playoffs to convince Love this is a franchise worth saving.

This is the relationship between the basketball culture of Minneapolis and its star player until July 1, 2015. He may break up with them; he may not. Sometimes, instead of pushing the relationship away, you have to just exist in it and allow yourself to enjoy what it still offers. It will run its course.

The one between Love and Minnesota may go on for another 18 months. It may go on for another 10 years. Regardless of what happens, an incredible player is teaching its significant other that it’s fine to love each other right now and worry about the rest later.

Kevin Love's impatient timing

July, 10, 2012
7/10/12
11:33
AM ET
Harper By Zach Harper
ESPN.com
Archive
Rocky Widner/NBAE/Getty ImagesKevin Love's impatience could hurt the Timberwolves' roster moves.

Before Ricky Rubio went down with a torn ACL, Kevin Love was experiencing a season like he never had before.

It wasn’t so much the statistical output he was throwing up at a close to historic rate; it was that the Timberwolves were winning, he was leading them, and they were battling for a playoff spot. Going into the showdown with the Lakers on March 9, when the season turned for the worse, the Timberwolves were two games over .500 more than halfway through the season for the first time since 2004-05. Everything for the Wolves was trending toward a bright future.

Then Rubio tore his ACL in the final seconds in that game against the Lakers, a 105-102 loss. After that, the team battled various injuries, and Love’s offensive efforts weren’t enough to even make most games competitive. Defensively, everybody seemed to check out, made evident by the 108.4 defensive rating the Wolves posted after Rubio's season-ending injury. Love played his last game of the season April 11, when he suffered a concussion early in the game against the Denver Nuggets.

From that point until the end of the regular season, the All-Star and all-NBA power forward sat and watched his completely overmatched team finish another season without truly getting a sniff of the playoffs. Without Rubio and Love on the floor, the Wolves showed just how little talent they had on which to build.

Seeing how far away this team is from being a playoff contender when Rubio and Love are nowhere to be seen -- coupled with the frustration surrounding a contract extension -- is probably what prompts someone to tell reporters that his patience level with the organization isn’t very high. As Jerry Zgoda reported Jan. 25 (the contract extension deadline day for Love), Love and David Kahn didn’t exactly see eye-to-eye on the negotiations.

Love (remember, he’s a Kevin McHale acquisition) wanted to commit to this area and the Wolves’ organization by accepting the five-year maximum extension, available to only one player per team during the life of this collective bargaining agreement. It’s presumed Kahn wanted to keep that option available to entice Rubio to stay in town after his rookie deal expired. To appease Love, the Wolves gave him a four-year maximum extension with an opt-out after three years.

It’s easy to see why Love is frustrated with the organization when you factor in his time here. He’s been working hard to turn into an elite player in the NBA, while the Wolves’ record has barely seen any improvement from his rookie season. He’s been the subject of trade rumors, even after having a historic 2010-11 season in which he averaged 20 points and 15 rebounds per game -- the only player other than Moses Malone to do so during the 3-point era. He wasn’t given the respect of a five-year max extension when he was practically begging to commit to a sputtering organization.

When Kevin Love told Marc J. Spears of Yahoo! Sports, "It's tough seeing all these guys that are young and older who have all played in the playoffs. When they start talking about that, I have nothing to talk about. If I don't make the playoffs next year, I don't know what will happen,” it wasn’t anything new to those that have covered the Wolves and paid attention to how Love conducts himself in front of a microphone. He’s never been shy about voicing his opinion, and that’s part of the leadership role he’s trying to command.

And Love is correct in saying the team needs to make a serious push. Before Rubio’s injury, the Wolves were well on their way to being respectable. The future was luminous, and nobody expected the end of the season to be so deflated. Now? They have just enough flexibility to make improvements to the roster but no real credit history to show they’re a destination for players wanting to win. This is what happens when you butcher the majority of your draft picks in a three-year span.

Although people shouldn’t necessarily disagree with what Love is saying, they should definitely disagree with the timing of Love’s mild "outburst." A few days before the soft open of 2012 free agency becomes a grand opening is not the time to publicly voice that your organization needs to be desperate to win now. Dealing with agents and rival GMs for coveted players (see: offer sheet to Nicolas Batum) who will enable your team to win more games isn’t helped when your best player starts beating around ultimatums.

This is where you see that while Love wants to be a leader, he still hasn’t figured out that role. Perhaps it’s immaturity or just inexperience with leading an organization. But you’re not in a market and climate that star players are dying to migrate to. To get a super team in Minnesota, you have to be surgical in the draft and get away with chicanery in trades.

By saying the team needs to make the playoffs or changes need to happen in the days before you may or may not acquire Batum just seems like horrendous timing. The Wolves had only a glimmer of hope to get away with acquiring Batum outright if Portland decided not to match. Now Portland can be open to a sign-and-trade, knowing they can demand any and all assets Minnesota has at its disposal. It would behoove Trail Blazers general manager Neil Olshey to get on the phone with Kahn and read excerpts from Spears’ article whenever Kahn says they can’t part with Derrick Williams and Nikola Pekovic to bag Batum. They can demand Luke Ridnour be included in the deal, leaving the Wolves without any point guard depth when they're trying to rehab Rubio's knee. They can ask for first-round picks that have the potential to hang over the head of the organization as the protected first-rounder from the Marko Jaric deal did from 2005 until this past draft.

Love could have applied pressure to the Timberwolves in private, but now the rest of the league has been put on alert -- things in the Twin Cities are bumpy. That doesn't help you keep future contract negotiations and trade discussions in your team's favor. It takes away any potential for possessing the upper hand when transforming your roster.

Love wants more for this organization and his career in Minnesota. There aren’t many fans that disagree with his stance or his sense of urgency. It’s justified when you see the history of the team and the frustration surrounding Kahn’s tenure with the Wolves. It just couldn’t have come at a worse time when the team is trying to put its losing ways behind it.

Flop of the Night: James Harden

June, 7, 2012
6/07/12
12:36
PM ET
Mason By Beckley Mason
ESPN.com
Archive
Mickael Pietrus
Layne Murdoch/NBAE/Getty Images
James Harden had two big flops in Game 6.

HoopIdea wants to #StopTheFlop. To spotlight the biggest fakers, we present Flop of the Night. You can help us separate the pretenders from the defenders -- details below:

It was supposed to be the Spurs who had the veteran wiles to carry them through the playoffs. But the Thunder beat them at their own game with exquisite shot-making, tight defense and ... some well-timed flops.

None were bigger than when James Harden stepped in to take a dubious offensive foul from Manu Ginobili (video) as Ginobili passed out to Kawhi Leonard, who drilled the open 3-pointer. The “pass and crash,” when a driving player dishes the ball then makes contact with a secondary defender who slides in for a “charge,” is a pet peeve of HoopIdea and, to hear Twitter tell it, quite a few NBA fans as well.

It’s conceivable that Bill Kennedy, the official on the baseline, saw the play as a moving screen on Ginobili. But watch the replay, and you’ll see Harden is selling the foul before he even runs into Ginobili, who is arguably trying to get out of Harden’s way.

Leonard’s 3 would have made it a one-point game. Instead, the Thunder got the ball and the lead.

It was a fitting way to seal the series. In Game 1, when the Spurs looked poised to roll through the playoffs to a fifth championship, Ginobili earned a trip to the line by winning a flop-off with his Thunder counterpart. But Harden and the Thunder learned quickly and ultimately earned a trip to the NBA Finals.

BONUS FLOP: This wasn’t Harden’s only trickery in Game 6. Late in the third quarter, he also drew a foul (and ended a Spurs possession) by whipping his head back as though Stephen Jackson had punched him in the chin. Thing is, Jackson was just standing there minding his own business -- the foul was complete fabrication (Video).

When you see an egregious flop that deserves proper recognition, send us a link to the video so we can consider it for Flop of the Night. Here's how to make your submission:
  • Alert HoopIdea to super flops with the Twitter hashtag #FlopOfTheNight (follow us on Twitter here).
  • Use the #FlopOfTheNight hashtag in Daily Dime Live.
  • E-mail us at hoopidea@gmail.com

Flop of the Night: Mickael Pietrus

June, 6, 2012
6/06/12
12:38
PM ET
By Beckley Mason and Zach Harper
ESPN.com
Mickael PietrusDavid Dow/NBAE/Getty Images
Mickael Pietrus performed the most consequential flop of the season.

HoopIdea wants to #StopTheFlop. To spotlight the biggest fakers, we present Flop of the Night. You can help us separate the pretenders from the defenders -- details below:

This one might be the Flop of the Year.

There were 155 seconds left in Game 5 of the Eastern Conference finals as Kevin Garnett let fly with a baseline jumper. As the ball swished through the net, Mickael Pietrus sprinted in from the opposite wing, looking for a potential offensive rebound. Instead, he ran straight into a boxout from Mario Chalmers, who put up his forearms, but did not extend his arms, to ward off the much bigger Pietrus.

On contact that he receives and doles out dozens of times each game, Pietrus’ body went rigid and he flopped over onto his back (video), right in front of Derrick Stafford, who rewarded the act with a technical foul.

It wasn’t much of a collision to begin with, but a run-of-the-mill foul would have been nearly inconsequential as the Heat were nowhere near the penalty. But the technical sent Ray Allen to the free throw line, where he calmly drilled the freebie.

One undeserved point.

It doesn’t sound like much, but in the context of the final moments of Game 5 in the Eastern Conference finals, it matters.

To Jeff Van Gundy, who was calling the game for ESPN along with Mike Breen, it mattered quite a bit:
Van Gundy: It just drives me crazy we're in the playoffs, Game 5, tied ... and Ray Allen goes to get an extra point!

Mike Breen: And the technical on Chalmers. You know we talked about how in a game like this, one point can be the difference.

Then, tongue planted firmly in cheek, Van Gundy offered a deterrent to flopping:

"Pietrus tricked the referee and should be fined $1 million tomorrow for it!"

Van Gundy may have strayed into hyperbole, but he wasn't kidding about the magnitude of the play.

Pietrus and Chalmers both hit huge 3-pointers on the following possessions, and then Paul Pierce drilled a contested 3 right over LeBron James to give the Celtics a two-possession lead they would never relinquish.

Of course, without that free point from the Chalmers technical, it would have been a one-possession game. That isn’t to say things would have turned out any differently -- the Celtics had a decided advantage either way.

But it’s a shame that a flop had any bearing on the final moments of an otherwise fantastic game.

When you see an egregious flop that deserves proper recognition, send us a link to the video so we can consider it for Flop of the Night. Here's how to make your submission:
  • Alert HoopIdea to super flops with the Twitter hashtag #FlopOfTheNight (follow us on Twitter here).
  • Use the #FlopOfTheNight hashtag in Daily Dime Live.
  • E-mail us at hoopidea@gmail.com

Flop of the Night: Boris Diaw

May, 30, 2012
5/30/12
1:19
PM ET
By Beckley Mason and Zach Harper
ESPN.com
Boris Diaw
Ronald Martinez/NBAE/Getty Images
Boris Diaw is not too big to flop.

HoopIdea wants to #StopTheFlop. To spotlight the biggest fakers, we present Flop of the Night. You can help us separate the pretenders from the defenders -- details below:

Much has been made about Boris Diaw's questionable fitness. He may be listed at 245 pounds, but the old eye test tells a far heftier story, despite his excellent agility.

Whatever the actual number, we can agree that Diaw is quite large enough to handle a bump from 190-pound Russell Westbrook. We know this because Diaw spent Game 2 setting dozens of very effective screens on Westbrook, handling the contact steadily almost every time.

But on this play (video), Diaw is bowled over the contact he himself creates by shuffling into position to pick off Westbrook. This routine screen somehow ends with Diaw on his back, legs splayed up in the air like the victim of a Looney Tunes haymaker.

It's odd to describe a flop as half-hearted, but that's what this one is -- Diaw takes his time getting to the floor, as though performing an annoyingly rote exercise. Still, it's enough to earn a whistle from the far sideline official, and our Flop of the Night.

BONUS FLOP: This play is also special because, while Diaw is availing himself of an opportunity to lay down on the court, Manu Ginobili and Kendrick Perkins are locked in a ridiculous flop-off on the baseline (vide0) stage right. Both put some effort into selling the contact, but it's all for naught as Diaw steals the thunder.

Thanks to @chitownalumni for catching this flop and alerting us via Twitter!

When you see an egregious flop that deserves proper recognition, send us a link to the video so we can consider it for Flop of the Night. Here's how to make your submission:
  • Alert HoopIdea to super flops with the Twitter hashtag #FlopOfTheNight (follow us on Twitter here).
  • Use the #FlopOfTheNight hashtag in Daily Dime Live.
  • E-mail us at hoopidea@gmail.com

Flop of the Night: Mario Chalmers

May, 25, 2012
5/25/12
2:11
PM ET
By Beckley Mason and Zach Harper
ESPN.com
Mario Chalmers
Jonathan Daniel/NBE/Getty Images
Mario Chalmers is reprising the role of Derek Fisher for the Heat.

HoopIdea wants to #StopTheFlop. To spotlight the biggest fakers, we present Flop of the Night. You can help us separate the pretenders from the defenders -- details below:

Mario Chalmers, who made three of four 3-pointers in Game 6, is becoming the Miami Heat's version of Lakers championship era Derek Fisher. Disruptive defense, spot up shooting ... and, of course, flopping. Chalmers has even mastered Fisher's ability to draw fouls by driving headlong into traffic and tossing the ball toward the basket.

Last night, he drew an offensive foul (video) on a moving screen from Roy Hibbert with Fisher's typical flair for the dramatic.

Working the play-by-play, ESPN's Mike Breen points out that the referee on the scene got the call right, but Jeff Van Gundy was still annoyed by Chalmers' act and suggested a flopping rule similar to the NHL's restriction on "Embellishment":
Breen: Well, Hibbert was clearly moving. You can say that he flopped, but that’s a foul.

Jeff Van Gundy: You see that’s where my flop rule will come into play. If you flop, even if you were fouled -- which he was -- you’re not gettin’ it!

Maybe Chalmers would "get it" in Jeff Van Gundy's world, but his theatrical reaction and the discussion it sparked was enough for him to get our Flop of the Night.

When you see an egregious flop that deserves proper recognition, send us a link to the video so we can consider it for Flop of the Night. Here's how to make your submission:
  • Alert HoopIdea to super flops with the Twitter hashtag #FlopOfTheNight (follow us on Twitter here).
  • Use the #FlopOfTheNight hashtag in Daily Dime Live.
  • E-mail us at hoopidea@gmail.com

Flop of the Night: Paul Pierce

May, 24, 2012
5/24/12
1:39
PM ET
By Beckley Mason and Zach Harper
ESPN.com

Drew Hallowell/NBAE/Getty Images
Paul Pierce knows how to convince the officials.

HoopIdea wants to #StopTheFlop. To spotlight the biggest fakers, we present Flop of the Night. You can help us separate the pretenders from the defenders -- details below:

Paul Pierce is one of the most expressive players in the NBA. Whether he's yelling as he yanks down a rebound or making this face on a drive to the hoop, Pierce has a way of making it so even the fans in the nosebleeds can feel his pain.

Sometimes, it seems as though Pierce has built ways to embellish contact into the fabric of his game. Here he draws an and-one foul on a jumpshot over Evan Turner (Video). A close-up replay shows Turner isn't even touching him. But from the wide angle view (and the view of the official), thanks to wiggling extremities, it looks like Pierce is taking a punch to the gut as he releases the shot.

Perhaps that herky-jerky style that so flummoxes defenders can have the same effect on the officials.

Twitter also spotted another potential Flop of the Night from Pierce in Game 6, so we might as well show you that one too.

Watch Pierce's legs (Video) go limp during this blocking foul on Lavoy Allen. The bump is there, but it's almost entirely incidental. Still, Pierce's legs buckle like ancient pillars in an catastrophic earthquake.

Also worth noting: Ryan Hollins and Rajon Rondo's smiles as they pick Pierce back up.

Even without the acting, Pierce would likely have gotten this call, so it doesn't win Flop of the Night. But it does merit recognition and the attention of aspiring thespians everywhere.

When you see an egregious flop that deserves proper recognition, send us a link to the video so we can consider it for Flop of the Night. Here's how to make your submission:
  • Alert HoopIdea to super flops with the Twitter hashtag #FlopOfTheNight (follow us on Twitter here).
  • Use the #FlopOfTheNight hashtag in Daily Dime Live.
  • E-mail us at hoopidea@gmail.com

Flop of the Night: James Harden

May, 21, 2012
5/21/12
1:24
PM ET
By Beckley Mason and Zach Harper
ESPN.com
James Harden
Brett Deering/NBAE/Getty Images
James Harden is nearly as good an actor as he is a player.

HoopIdea wants to #StopTheFlop. To spotlight the biggest fakers, we present Flop of the Night. You can help us separate the pretenders from the defenders -- details below:

On this edition of Flop of the Night we go back to Friday and Game 3 of Lakers-Thunder to give James Harden special recognition for this improbable flop of Lakers guard Steve Blake (video).

Here's what flopping expert Shane Battier said about noted Luis Scola: “The more hair you have, the better. My boy Luis Scola, he’s got that long hair and when it gets sweaty and he starts flopping and flailing, it looks like he’s getting murdered out there.”

New theory: James Harden’s enormous beard acts in much the same way.

Harden has a history of playoff flops -- this one against the Dallas Mavericks had Jeff Van Gundy and Mike Breen chuckling -- but the audacity of this acting job is truly admirable.

Midway through the fourth quarter, Blake finds himself trailing Harden around a ball screen. That's where Harden wants to keep Blake, so he blatantly hooks him with his off arm to prevent Blake from getting back in good defensive position.

Then, perhaps sensing that foul is about be called on him, Harden suddenly lurches forward and throws his arms -- and beard -- in the air, while Blake remains absolutely stationary. What's so amazing is that usually a flop comes in reaction to something the other player does, whether or not the contact is genuine. But here, Blake is just a prop in Harden’s performance.

It’s worth noting that the referee who made the call had a terrible angle on what actually happened. He just saw Harden’s reaction and gave him the benefit of the doubt. This is exactly the kind of flop that an instant remote review system could set straight in a matter of moments.

When you see an egregious flop that deserves proper recognition, send us a link to the video so we can consider it for Flop of the Night. Here's how to make your submission:
  • Alert HoopIdea to super flops with the Twitter hashtag #FlopOfTheNight (follow us on Twitter here).
  • Use the #FlopOfTheNight hashtag in Daily Dime Live.
  • E-mail us at hoopidea@gmail.com

Flop of the Night: Caron Butler

May, 16, 2012
5/16/12
2:27
PM ET
By Beckley Mason and Zach Harper
ESPN.com
Caron Butler
Andy Lyons/Getty Images
Caron Butler is the latest Clipper to win Flop of the Night.

HoopIdea wants to #StopTheFlop. To spotlight the biggest fakers, we present Flop of the Night. You can help us separate the pretenders from the defenders -- details below:

It was a rough night of flopping for Manu Ginobili. First, he was unable to inspire the referees to tweet -- though Twitter was noisy enough -- when he flailed on a first quarter 3-point attempt (Video).

It was the type of call Ginobili is famous for getting -- which might be why he couldn't sell it this time. As Eric Bledsoe reached in, Ginobili ripped the ball to his shot pocket and struck a distorted pose, like he wanted to shoot the ball but forgot how.

The officials' response: Silence.

Later in the game, Ginobili was even burned by one of his old tricks (Video) when Caron Butler drew a charge by stepping into Manu's path as he released a kickout pass. This sneaky play -- where the defender takes the charge after the driving player has already passed off -- is a pet peeve of many fans and has even shown up in a HoopIdea Five for Friday care of @ShotDrJr.

By the time Manu makes contact with Butler -- who appears to still be moving when he gets the call -- he has almost entirely stopped his forward momentum. But that doesn't stop Butler from flying backward and earning the call instead of flying out to the 3-point line to close out Kawhi Leonard. And that's your Flop of the Night.

When you see an egregious flop that deserves proper recognition, send us a link to the video so we can consider it for Flop of the Night. Here's how to make your submission:
  • Alert HoopIdea to super flops with the Twitter hashtag #FlopOfTheNight (follow us on Twitter here).
  • Use the #FlopOfTheNight hashtag in Daily Dime Live.
  • E-mail us at hoopidea@gmail.com

Flop of the Night: Mike Miller

May, 14, 2012
5/14/12
12:14
PM ET
By Beckley Mason and Zach Harper
ESPN.com
Mike Miller
Nathaniel S. Butler/NBAE/Getty Images
Mike Miller took to the floor a few times in Game 1.

HoopIdea wants to #StopTheFlop. To spotlight the biggest fakers, we present Flop of the Night. You can help us separate the pretenders from the defenders -- details below:

Even before the Pacers and Heat took the floor in Game 1 of their second round series, we knew that flopping would be a topic. Indiana head coach Frank Vogel's comments about the Heat's habit of flopping -- and the $15,000 fine that followed -- assured as much.

Right on cue, Mike Miller earned his first Flop of The Night by toppling over on the expectation of contact from David West. Watch the video. Miller actually leans into the bump from West -- his plan here is to draw the charge so he needs to ensure at least some contact is made.

The set up is almost as unbelievable as Miller's actual fall, which lasts just under seven seconds. That's an exaggeration, of course, but it's fair to say Miller tips over in slow-motion, rather than falls. Instead of moving his feet to regain his balance, Miller, obviously intent on drawing a call, lets the kind of contact he would normally shrug off knock him to the ground.

Miller's tumble was met with silent whistles.

As Mike Tirico put it while calling the game on ABC, "You could say Frank Vogel's $15,000 paid off, at least for one play."

Runner up: LeBron James takes a shot to the throat, or so it appears.

When you see an egregious flop that deserves proper recognition, send us a link to the video so we can consider it for Flop of the Night. Here's how to make your submission:
  • Alert HoopIdea to super flops with the Twitter hashtag #FlopOfTheNight (follow us on Twitter here).
  • Use the #FlopOfTheNight hashtag in Daily Dime Live.
  • E-mail us at hoopidea@gmail.com

Flop of the Night: Jason Terry

May, 4, 2012
5/04/12
11:35
AM ET
By Beckley Mason and Zach Harper
ESPN.com
Jason Terry
Danny Bollinger/NBAE/Getty Images
Not even a well-timed flop could get Jason Terry and the Dallas Mavericks going last night.

HoopIdea wants to #StopTheFlop. To spotlight the biggest fakers, we present Flop of the Night. You can help us separate the pretenders from the defenders -- details below.

The Mavericks, the oldest team in the league, pulled all the old man maneuvers out of their bag of tricks to keep up with the young and talented Oklahoma City Thunder Thunder on Thursday.

With the season slipping away, Jason Terry had to try something. So as he dribbled the ball across the court, James Harden on his hip, Terry laid down a flop that contains all the classic elements you would expect from such a seasoned veteran.

Note the subtle headwhip, the way he flings out his left arm as though Harden just stuck him with a cattle prod, how he suddenly loses control of his left foot, dragging it behind him as he tumbles to the hardwood.

Was there a trip wire on the court? Did James Harden's beard exerts mystical gravitational forces that caused Terry to lose his balance?

In technique, this actually looks a lot like an egregious soccer flop, or "dive." But there are no yellow cards for simulating a foul in the NBA.

On the contrary, even though watching Harden reveals he couldn't have possibly fouled Terry, the veteran got the call -- even if the Thunder got the game.

When you see an egregious flop that deserves proper recognition, send us a link to the video so we can consider it for Flop of the Night. Here's how to make your submission:
  • Alert HoopIdea to super flops with the Twitter hashtag #FlopOfTheNight (follow us on Twitter here).
  • Use the #FlopOfTheNight hashtag in Daily Dime Live.
  • E-mail us at hoopidea@gmail.com

Flop of the Night: The Clippers!

May, 3, 2012
5/03/12
2:29
PM ET
By Beckley Mason and Zach Harper
ESPN.com
Reggie Evans, Chris Paul
NBAE/Getty ImagesChris Paul and Reggie Evans brought the flop in Game 2.

HoopIdea wants to #StopTheFlop. To spotlight the biggest fakers, we present Flop of the Night. You can help us separate the pretenders from the defenders -- details below.

We're going to single out Chris Paul and Reggie Evans here, but really, today this is a team award. The crowd in Memphis quickly caught on to the Clippers' now notorious reputation for flopping. SI's Chris Mannix captured the mood by tweeting that the Clippers were "flopping all over the place."

Though there are other instances we could mention, let's focus on video of two hysterically unconvincing flops from Paul and Evans, who have each won this award previously.

What's so incredible about these flops is that they occurred on back-to-back plays. So just as the telecast cut back from a replay of Evans flopping to the ground after running into Marc Gasol, we saw Chris Paul on this fastbreak flop, crumpling to the ground in anticipation of contact as Quincy Pondexter completely avoids Paul and dishes to Tony Allen.

It should be noted that O.J. Mayo, who epitomized the Grizzlies' relentless and cagey effort in Game 2, seemed to respond to the Clippers' flopping tactics by flopping right back. By the end of the game, as the Clippers pressured the ball all over the court in a desperate attempt to create turnovers, Mayo and Mike Conley were giving as good as they got.

Thankfully, the referees let 'em play a bit inside the Grind House. There's no love lost between these two teams, and the combination of bruising play and frequent flopping makes the officials' jobs all the more difficult.

When you see an egregious flop that deserves proper recognition, send us a link to the video so we can consider it for Flop of the Night. Here's how to make your submission:
  • Alert HoopIdea to super flops with the Twitter hashtag #FlopOfTheNight (follow us on Twitter here).
  • Use the #FlopOfTheNight hashtag in Daily Dime Live.
  • E-mail us at hoopidea@gmail.com

Flop of the Night: Josh Smith

May, 2, 2012
5/02/12
12:11
PM ET
By Beckley Mason and Zach Harper
ESPN.com
Josh Smith
Scott Cunningham/NBAE/Getty Images
Brandon Bass hangs on to Josh Smith, perhaps to prevent him from flopping out of bounds.

HoopIdea wants to #StopTheFlop. To spotlight the biggest fakers, we present Flop of the Night. You can help us separate the pretenders from the defenders -- details below.

Atlanta's star forward Josh Smith has one of the unique skill sets in the NBA. He dominates the glass and protects the rim like a center and can handle the ball like a point guard.

He's also becoming a champion flopper.

Before hurting his knee (all best wishes for a healthy Josh Smith in Game 3) in Tuesday night's loss to the Boston Celtics, Smith dove like a stuntman as Brandon Bass attempted to box him out.

You have to respect Smith's willingness to go to the ground. He looks like someone who, eager to join a dance circle, starts doing the worm but forgets how it goes halfway to the ground.

Check the slow-motion replay and you'll see Smith using his excellent athleticism not to sky for a rebound, but to buck and actually leap forward and out of bounds. He lands at the referee's feet, and gets the call.

Everyone knows that players flop for charges and on scoring attempts. But there is no time when there's more contact in an NBA game than during the scrums under the rim, which makes it the perfect time to try and sell a flop, as Smith does masterfully on this play.

Keep your eye peeled for more rebound flops as the playoffs go on, we've already had two this week.

And thanks to Michael Pina for pointing this one out!

When you see an egregious flop that deserves proper recognition, send us a link to the video so we can consider it for Flop of the Night. Here's how to make your submission:
  • Alert HoopIdea to super flops with the Twitter hashtag #FlopOfTheNight (follow us on Twitter here).
  • Use the #FlopOfTheNight hashtag in Daily Dime Live.
  • E-mail us at hoopidea@gmail.com

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