Flip Saunders and the Minnesota Timberwolves are in heavy denial.
All-Star forward Kevin Love has done everything short of stage a televised press conference where he publicly reveals just where he will be taking his talents to let Wolves’ management know the gig is up in Minnesota.
Love spent this past weekend roaming the streets of Boston, ingratiating himself with the people of Celtics Nation and hanging out with star-guard Rajon Rondo, further fueling rumors that all that talk about the Celtics being in the process of putting together a package that could include the team’s two 2014 first-round draft picks and a mix of players from their under 27-years-old core of Avery Bradley, Jared Sullinger, Jeff Green and Kelly Olynyk could be real.
“The last I knew Kevin was under contract with us, and I expect him to be playing for us next year,” Saunders said in the wake of again being reminded of Love’s obvious desires. “I don’t really dictate where guys go on vacation or what they do. They can go wherever they want to go. I know there’s a feeding frenzy out there from a lot of teams. Unfortunately, they have no say.”
Saunders might hold all the cards right now, but any euphoria the Wolves might derive born of that will be short-lived. Even if the Wolves decide to keep Love on board this season, the 25-year-old, three-time All-Star will be able to walk next season, with or without the Wolves’ consent, and without them getting anything in return for him.
If that’s how things play out, it’s widely assumed the native Californian could wind up in L.A. with the Lakers, a team he grew up cheering and has made no secret of his continued fondness for.
Love’s numbers have improved in each of his first six seasons in Minnesota, though the Wolves have yet to make the playoffs — seemingly frustrating him with being in one of the league’s smallest markets all the more.
Say what you will about at least some of Love’s motivations, but at least he’s been straight up with the Wolves about his inner most feelings. The Wolves would be able to offer Love roughly $30 million more than any other team over the life of a max deal, but the veteran forward insists all the losing has grated on him too much now for his decision to be only about dollars and cents.
Flip Saunders can admit to himself what everyone else already knows and let Kevin Love walk like he’s ultimately going to do anyway, making the best deal for his Wolves along the way.