The Los Angeles Lakers are one of the most renowned franchises in the NBA—and in all of sports, for that matter. So it makes sense that Minnesota Timberwolves star Kevin Love is reportedly set on heading to LA in the summer of 2015.
ESPN.com's Chris Broussard (subscription required) reports on Thursday, Jan. 30 that "most executives" are of the belief that Love will rock the purple and gold as a member of the Lake Show when he's free to flee.
"That's a 100 percent certainty,'' said one GM to Broussard.
Strong testimony indeed, but should outsiders buy it? It's unclear as to whether or not this is even a good move for Love, and there are so many factors to weigh.
As much history and tradition the Lakers have established over the years, the organization's current situation and roster should give Love cause to pause. Before setting his sights on LA as his free-agency destination of choice, Love should look before he makes that type of career-altering leap.
He should look at what the Lakers have in place for the future, look at his own situation in Minnesota and at what other sure-to-be-eager suitors have to offer.
The nucleus the Timberwolves have in place is actually pretty promising. Between center Nikola Pekovic, flashy 23-year-old point guard Ricky Rubio, volume shooter Kevin Martin and versatile role player Corey Brewer, Minnesota might be a strong player away from being a true force.
Plus, all of those players are under contract through at least 2016, with Rubio having a qualifying offer clause, meaning the Timberwolves can match any amount another team offers for him. Love has the option of staying an extra year.
It's at least worth checking out, depending on how the season-and-a-half goes. But even if the Wolves match Rubio alone, it will give them $52,557,948 million in total salaries for that season.
With that money, the front office could even afford another prized asset to aid Love and Co.'s efforts to make a serious title push in the competitive Western Conference, along with a decent first-round pick in the fold by then.
Even this year, the postseason is a possibility as Minnesota sits just above .500 at 23-22. Love, 25, has been named an All-Star starter and is averaging 25 points, 12.9 rebounds and 4.1 assists per game.
Where should Kevin Love go if he opts for free agency in 2015?
With the continued growth, chemistry and development that Love, Rubio, Pekovic and Martin should undergo in the meantime, the Timberwolves don't seem so ominous—even though the team hasn't made the playoffs in approximately a decade.
Now, take the Lakers, for instance, who will have a ton of cap room in the summer of 2015 but plenty of uncertainty to go with it. Superstar shooting guard Kobe Bryant will be entering the last year of his current deal making $25 million in salary, and only center Robert Sacre is even on the books up to then, with a less than $1 million team option.
While that does open the door to retool Bryant's team with a ton of star power, it's also quite a wild card. Bryant has dealt with injuries of varying severity over the past two seasons and may have little left in the tank by the time the 2015-16 campaign rolls around.
The romantic reunion between Love and California, where he played his college ball at UCLA, is compelling, as is this scenario brought forth by ESPNLosAngeles.com's Arash Markazi:
Imagine if the Lakers could reunite the 2008 UCLA team (Love, Westbrook, Collison & Mbah a Moute). I'd even let Howland coach at that point.— Arash Markazi (@ArashMarkazi) January 28, 2014
Los Angeles is intriguing because of its cap space, but whether there's enough draw there in the first place remains to be seen.
Is Love really "100 percent" set on teaming with Bryant—and, um, whoever else is striving to restore glory to a squad currently in turmoil? If so, he should take a step back, evaluate his own current destination and even think of the other teams that will offer him a maximum contract and have better foundations in place.
|Los Angeles Lakers||Salary (Stipulations)|
|Kobe Bryant, G||$25,000,000|
|Robert Sacre, C||$981,358 (Team option)|
|Minnesota Timberwolves||Salary (Stipulations)|
|Kevin Love, F||$16,744,219 (can opt out)|
|Nikola Pekovic, C||$12,100,000|
|Kevin Martin, G||$7,085,000|
|Ricky Rubio, G||$6,723,729 (Qualifying offer)|
|Chase Budinger, F||$5,000,000 (Player option)|
|Corey Brewer, F||$4,905,000|
|Alexey Shved, G||$3,998,408 (Qualifying offer)|
|Shabazz Muhammad, F||$2,056,920 (Team option)|
|Gorgui Dieng, C||$2,348,782 (Team option)|
|New York Knicks||Salary (Stipulations)|
|JR Smith, G||$6,399,750 (Player option)|
|Raymond Felton, G||$4,540,000 (Player option|
|Iman Shumpert, G/F||$3,898,691 (Qualifying offer)|
|Pablo Prigioni, G||$1,734,572|
|Tim Hardaway Jr., G||$1,304,520 (Team option)|
One team Broussard brought up that has been rumored is the New York Knicks. With at least some pieces in place such as Raymond Felton, Iman Shumpert and Carmelo Anthony (if he remains in the Big Apple), that could be a better spot for Love than the Lakers.
Love should be itching to win and compete for NBA championships, but plenty of other dominoes have to fall before Love hits the open market.
Exercising the virtue of patience, evaluating the entire league landscape and examining his current surroundings in the Twin Cities are all he should be doing in the meantime—in addition to continuing his outstanding play.