Kevin Love has made it clear to the Timberwolves that he intends to become an unrestricted free agent after next season and has no interest in a contract extension to stay in Minnesota, according to sources with knowledge of the situation.
Although sources say Love has stopped short of demanding a trade, his position could effectively force the Timberwolves to deal the All-Star forward before next season — or before the trade deadline in February 2015 at the latest — if they hope to dodge the risk of losing him without compensation.
This shouldn’t come as a shock to NBA fans anywhere. Kevin Love wants to play for a championship contender and it’s obvious the Minnesota isn’t the place for him to chase a championship anytime soon.
The Timberwolves have not entertained the thought of trading Love up until this point, despite Love’s apparent trade request in February. However, now that it has been made clear that Love has no intentions of re-signing, the T’Wolves may be rethinking their approach.
So, is Kevin Love really on the market?
According to multiple reports, the Timberwolves have made it clear to all interested parties that they have no intentions of dealing Love before the 2014 NBA Draft, which would be a huge blow to teams that are interested in his services for the 2014-15, including the Los Angeles Lakers.
The Lakers have quietly made it known that they are interested in dealing their lottery pick for Love if that deal became available. The Lakers have limited assets at their disposal right now, but what they do have is a destination that Love would almost certainly sign an extension with. However, in order to get a deal done with the Timberwolves, the Lakers would likely have to relinquish their lottery pick, which is still to be determined in terms of positioning, and convince Pau Gasol to do a sign-and-trade and head to Minnesota. To be honest, the likelihood of that scenario coming into place by June 20th is about as likely as nabbing the 1st overall pick in this years draft. It’s possible, but highly unlikely.
Meanwhile, other NBA teams have been quietly plotting to pursue Love this offseason, and most of those teams have a lot more to work with than the Los Angeles Lakers. The Houston Rockets could offer Minnesota a package of Omer Asik, Chandler Parsons, and others. The Phoenix Suns could offer Goran Dragic, Alex Len, and a plethora of first round picks. The Golden State Warriors could put together a godfather offer of Harrison Barnes, David Lee, and Draymond Green. The possibilities for the Timberwolves, should they put Love on the market, are endless.
The Timberwolves would be smart trade away Love while they can. The Lakers made the mistake of foolishly believing Dwight Howard would stay in Los Angeles and they got nothing for him when he bolted for Houston. Minnesota has the luxury of having Love for another year, which means they could trade him away at the trade deadline next season. However, a team is only going to trade for Love if they are confident he will sign an extension with them. Minnesota may as well gauge the market now and figure out what teams they can do business with.
As for the Lakers, things do not look good on the Kevin Love front. They’re playing with the smallest chip count at the table. Mitch Kupchak is going to have to be awfully creative if he’s going to get Love to Los Angeles any time soon. It’s possible, it’s just very unlikely.