UPDATE: Wednesday, Feb. 20 at 12:10 a.m. ET by Sean Hojnacki
Timberwolves president Flip Saunders would like to set the record straight. Not only did Kevin Love not tell the team he plans to opt out, but he also thinks Saunders has an ugly jacket.
Rumors of Love telling me he's opting out & wants 2 b traded r false. Last convo I had w/ him was him telling me how bad my sports coat was.— Flip Saunders (@Flip_Saunders) February 20, 2014
I can't speak to Saunders' fashion sense, but someone clearly got their information wrong. Love is fresh off leading Minnesota past the Indiana Pacers with 42 points, 16 rebounds and five three-pointers. It's nearly impossible to get value in return for a player like that.
---End of update---
UPDATE: Wednesday, Feb. 19 at 10:05 a.m. ET
To the surprise of almost no one, the Kevin Love trade talks aren't progressing whatsoever.
"The Lakers did inquire about Minnesota's interest in teaming Gasol with his Spanish countryman Ricky Rubio recently, according to a source, but those talks did not progress," writes ESPN Los Angeles' Ramona Shelburne, who also revealed that the Los Angeles Lakers are still trying to figure out what to do with Pau Gasol.
This won't be the last we hear of Love, though.
Maybe another rumor will pop up before Thursday's deadline, but if not, the very presence of whisperings this early is a pretty clear indication that next season will be a busy one for the Love rumor mill.
---End of update---
If you thought you were going to wait until the 2014-15 season before you were inundated with Kevin Love rumors, think again.
While it remains true that the Minnesota Timberwolves superstar must complete both the current season and the subsequent one before he can opt out of his contract and join a new team, the rumors are already starting. And they're geared around a potential trade, not just what happens when he hits the open market.
CBS Sports' Ken Berger has the scoop:
The Lakers and Mavericks are trying to assemble trade offers for prospective free agent Kevin Love, but thus far the Timberwolves have given no indication they'll consider moving the All-Star forward by Thursday's deadline, league sources told CBSSports.com.
Giving up significant assets for Love would be problematic for any team that isn't confident it will be able to sign him when he becomes a free agent. That is obviously not an issue for the Lakers.
Berger does note that anonymous sources close to the team say there's "no way" Minnesota president Flip Saunders would commit to trading Love, but this is significant nonetheless.
Kevin Love trade rumors? Deadline just got real. Everyone knows he's leaving, Wolves might try and cash in on him now rather than next year.— Thomas Duffy (@TJDhoops) February 18, 2014
The Lakers aren't playing around, and neither are the Mavericks, who have even more incentive to land Love before Dirk Nowitzki's status as a superstar inevitably declines thanks to the unrelenting clutches of Father Time.
But while Mark Cuban can never be counted out, he's taking a clear backseat in this story nonetheless.
Love grew up on the West Coast. He went to school at UCLA. An anonymous NBA general manager recently told ESPN's Chris Broussard (subscription required) that the power forward going to L.A. was "a 100 percent certainty."
Hell, Minnesota fans even begged Love to stay during a recent clash between the two relevant squads:
Timberwolves fan yells out to Kevin Love: "Don't leave Kevin, don't leave." Another yells out: "We know you love Minnesota!"— Mike Bresnahan (@Mike_Bresnahan) February 5, 2014
In all likelihood, Love will still be a part of the 'Wolves after the trade deadline has come and gone.
This squad is still within striking distance of a playoff spot in the brutally difficult Western Conference, and there's no telling what the future holds. Despite what Broussard reported, it's not a certainty that Love goes to the Lakers in two years, simply because that's, well, two years from now.
A lot can change.
Will the Timberwolves trade Love?
Saunders isn't going to give up on his star player, especially when one deep playoff run could potentially swing his thought process.
That said, this news is still relevant. Even if no trade comes to fruition in the next few days, it's telling that the rumors are already popping up.
They foreshadow an awfully busy time over the next 18 months. Love's name is going to be heard a lot.