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Should the Houston Rockets be on Kevin Love’s shortlist of teams?

By Anthony Duckett
CLEVELAND, OH - JANUARY 7: Kevin Love #0 of the Cleveland Cavaliers walks to the bench during the first half against the Houston Rockets during their game on January 7, 2015 at Quicken Loans Arena in Cleveland, Ohio. The Rockets defeated the Cavaliers 105-93. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by David Maxwell/Getty Images)
CLEVELAND, OH - JANUARY 7: Kevin Love #0 of the Cleveland Cavaliers walks to the bench during the first half against the Houston Rockets during their game on January 7, 2015 at Quicken Loans Arena in Cleveland, Ohio. The Rockets defeated the Cavaliers 105-93. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by David Maxwell/Getty Images)
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With Kevin Love reportedly letting the Cleveland Cavaliers know that he only wants to go to the Portland Trail Blazers, it’s worth exploring whether Love should consider the Houston Rockets as well.

The Cleveland Cavaliers have made it known that Kevin Love is on the trade block, as the Cavs are rebuilding and essentially don’t have a need for the 31 year-old All-Star. Love and the Cavaliers made four NBA Finals appearances within the last five years, as he was the third wheel behind the duo of LeBron James and Kyrie Irving. Love operated well in the third fiddle role, which is why the Houston Rockets would be wise to make a play for Love, as he would thrive in a third fiddle role behind Russell Westbrook and James Harden.

Because Love is so accustomed to competing for championships, it’s no surprise that he’s reportedly wanting to be moved to a contending team. What is surprising is the specific team he wants to be moved to. According to Kevin O’Connor of The Ringer, Love wants to be moved to his hometown Portland Trail Blazers, which is an interesting choice.

This selection begs the question of whether the Blazers are viewed as a contender, as most wouldn’t list them as one of the better teams in the Western Conference. This season Portland currently has a record of 10-16, which puts them at the 11th spot in the Western Conference standings. That’s not exactly what you would call a contender, and it’s also contradictory to the reports of Love wanting to be moved to a team who is competing for a championship.

It’s worth posing the question of whether the Houston Rockets should be on Love’s shortlist of teams, as they are certainly a contender. The Rockets are currently 16-8, which is fourth-best in the Western Conference. Granted we haven’t heard anything about the Rockets being interested in Love, but it’s intriguing that Love doesn’t have interest in playing for the Rockets. Many would argue that the Rockets would beat the Blazers even with Love, as the Rockets are clearly the better team.

What’s not debatable, however, is the fact that the Rockets would be better with Love on the roster, especially depending on who they have to give up. Then there’s also the Russell Westbrook angle, who was Love’s college teammate and roommate at UCLA. Westbrook and Love remain close friends as well.

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It’s entirely possible that Love is making a mistake by only limiting himself to the Blazers. but it also doesn’t make sense considering where he’s at in his career. A Blazers team with a core of Damian Lillard, CJ McCollum and Kevin Love would be interesting, but would arguably still not be enough to legitimately compete for a title in the Western Conference.

Granted the Rockets would also have their woes with Love in the starting lineup, mainly on the defensive end, but they would still go further than the Blazers would with him. On top of that, the Blazers would also have defensive challenges, as they would likely have to trade Hassan Whiteside for Love, who is averaging 2.4 blocks per game, which is third-best in the NBA. On top of that, Whiteside has allowed 105 points per 100 possessions, which has been the best defensive rating among their starters.

We’ll have to see what happens but Love has made it clear that he only wants to go to the Blazers, which makes you wonder why the Houston Rockets aren’t on his list.

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