Kevin Love has been Portland’s most wanted man for the last three years. Every time his name pops up in trade chatters, the Blazers are automatically linked to the sweet-shooting All-Star forward.

NBA writer Brad Botkin of CBS Sports brought a new life to the seemingly never-dying Love to Portland rumors by mentioning the Blazers as one of the five teams (the others are the Golden State Warriors, Miami Heat, Boston Celtics and Atlanta Hawks) that could potentially make a run at the forward between now and the mid-season trade deadline.

“A Love deal with Portland could work with Hassan Whiteside representing the money and Nassir Little and/or Anfernee Simons representing the assets,” Botkin wrote in his latest piece on CBS Sports.

Experience vs. Youth

Love’s 4-year, $120 million contract extension will start kicking in at the start of the 2019-20 NBA season.

Any potential taker should understand that they would be paying an average of $30 million over the next four years to a power forward who just turned 31 last September 7.

This is one of the reasons why Carson Brown of FanSided’s Rip City Project blog is lukewarm on the Love to Portland scenario. While he thinks the acquisition of Love would represent the Blazers’ desire to contend for a title now, any potential move for the forward would just undermine the team’s bright future.

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He added that trading for Love isn’t worth it if it would mean sending away promising prospects like Anfernee Simmons, Zach Collins or even rookie Nasir Little.

“Don’t get me wrong, Love is still a good player with a lot of experience and talent, and would probably even be an improvement on next year’s roster. But the impact that Collins and Simons will make in the near future isn’t worth giving up for an aging, injury-prone and overpaid Kevin Love,” Brown opined in his FanSided article.

The X-Factor in a potential deal

The Blazers acquired Hassan Whiteside as part of a four-team trade orchestrated by Miami Heat to create cap space for prized free-agent Jimmy Butler this summer.

After a breakout year during the 2016-17 season, where he averaged 17.0 points and 14.1 rebounds per game, his numbers took a downturn over the next two seasons as Heat head coach Erik Spoelstra opted for smaller, more flexible lineups.

With Jusuf Nurkic recovering from a leg injury, Whiteside will be assured of a larger role again with the Blazers, at least until their usual starting center returns to the lineup.

In Portland, the 30-year-old Whiteside will have the opportunity to improve his stock again before he becomes an unrestricted free agent again in 2020. For the Blazers, Whiteside’s on-court success would only give them the leverage in any potential trade talks.

To make things short, the 30-year-old center is going to be the x-factor in the Blazers’ pursuit of another star. The better numbers Whiteside produced, the higher the odds Portland would get a star like Love without using Simmons, Collins or Little as trade baits.

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