There’s nothing official coming from Kevin Love or the Minnesota Timberwolves, but everyone is assuming he wants out – either via trade this season or as a free agent a year from now. That puts plenty of teams on alert: The Los Angeles Lakers and the New York Knicks, joined by the Boston Celtics, Houston Rockets, Phoenix Suns and also Love’s personal favorites – the Golden State Warriors and the Chicago Bulls.
The Timberwolves don’t want to trade Love unless they’ll be in a no-choice kind of situation. That means, he has until February 2015, next season’s trade deadline. Love has another year on his contract (2015-2016), but he has a player option he isn’t very likely to trigger, unless the Timberwolves go on a surprising run early next season which convinces him he will finally be playing some postseason basketball.
There was always the assumption both the Lakers and the Knicks were waiting for Love in 2015. They’ll have the cap space by then and obviously the allure of playing in a big market with a lot more attention than he got in Minnesota, especially considering he has become one of the best players in the NBA, finishing third on last season’s PER rankings with 26.9 behind only LeBron James and Kevin Durant.
Love himself, according to rumors, prefers the Warriors or the Bulls. Both teams have players they can send, but I’m not sure they’re willing to part of. Teams like the Suns and Celtics have draft picks the Timberwolves might be interested in, but the Warriors can send a package that includes David Lee and Harrison Barnes for Love, which might make things easier for the Timberwolves to swallow. The Houston Rockets also have the players (Lin and Asik?) that might convince the Timberwolves to “sell”.
The Boston Celtics don’t seem like a team Love would be interested in (not that he’ll have a choice if he is traded), considering how far away they seem to be from being a playoff team, let alone a contender. The same goes for the Lakers and Knicks right now, although things might be different in a year from now, when quite a few big names hit the free agency market and Love won’t seem so special anymore.
The Timberwolves have more problems than just Kevin Love: Rick Adelman retired, which means they don’t have a head coach. They were planning to go after college names like Fred Hoiberg, Billy Donovan, Tom Izzo and Kevin Ollie, but with Love being a question mark, that’s hard to achieve. It’s more likely that former player Sam Mitchell or Lionel Hollins will end up taking the job.