Kevin Love has made it clear to the Timberwolves: Minnesota is not where he wants to be.
Over the weekend, Love reiterated to the franchise that drafted him that he intends to become an unrestricted free agent after the 2014-15 season and plans to sign elsewhere, according to ESPN.com.
Love won’t demand a trade, but his resistance to re-upping with Minnesota may force Timberwolves management to trade the All-Star power forward at some point before next season in order to receive some form of compensation before simply losing him in free agency.
Sources say Love has stressed to the Timberwolves that he’s desperate to get to a winning situation and that the constant losing has worn on him. Minnesota has yet to reach the playoffs in Love’s six pro seasons and endured a particularly disappointing 2013-14 season, missing out on a top-eight spot in the West thanks in part to a number of close-game defeats. The Wolves hope they can still sell Love on committing for the long term and relying at least partly on the belief that he would be unwilling to walk away from the extra year — worth roughly $30 million — in his next deal that he can only get from Minnesota if he becomes an unrestricted free agent.
With the NBA Draft right around the corner, interested teams are ready to let the bidding begin. According to the Associated Press, the Timberwolves openness to dealing Love next month “has softened somewhat,” and Love may be able to be acquired for a high first-round pick and a veteran leader.
Sources told ESPN.com that Love is “intrigued” by the Golden State Warriors and the Chicago Bulls. The Warriors just hired former Suns front-office man and NBA analyst Steve Kerr as head coach, while Tom Thibodeau is being mentioned as a coach for teams such as the Lakers and Knicks with coaching vacancies.
In addition, the Lakers and the Knicks have been mentioned as likely landing spots. Both would help Love jump to into the spotlight of big-market franchises, but both are a ways away from being contenders in their respective conference. According to the report, Love wants to play for an “immediate contender.”
The New York Post reported Knicks president Phil Jackson “has been plotting” to make a trade for Love. Adding Love is a “selling post” for keeping Carmelo Anthony is New York, and with the expiring contracts of Tyson Chandler and Iman Shumpert could be trading chips to bring Love to the Big Apple.
However, the Knicks don’t have a first-round to give up until 2018.
The Boston Celtics have draft picks to use, and according to Yahoo! Sports, the team plans to make high lottery picks in the 2014 draft available in offers to Minnesota. The same goes for the Lakers, Love’s hometown team. It’s unknown who will coach the Lakers next season and if that will impact Love’s interest is returning to Hollywood.
The Phoenix Suns are another team to keep an eye on. The team has several draft picks to offer up to the Timberwolves and reportedly has “strong interest” in acquiring Love. The forward’s interest in heading out to the desert, however, is unknown.