As so often happens around this time of year, there's a war of words going on. This time, Kevin Love is caught right in the middle of the battle.
Throughout the 2013-14 season, we've been treated to nearly endless speculation about the future of the Minnesota Timberwolves ace power forward. ESPN's Chris Broussard (subscription required), for example, infamously reported that an anonymous general manager said Love coming to the Los Angeles Lakers as a free agent in 2015 is "a 100 percent certainty."
Lately, rumor has it that Love won't even have to wait that long.
"The Lakers and Mavericks are trying to assemble trade offers for prospective free agent Kevin Love," wrote Ken Berger, "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."
All of a sudden, the narrative shifted from the 'Wolves having a few years to convince Love that staying was his best option to the other side of the spectrum. And NBA columnist Peter Vecsey is helping to lead the charge:
Prior 2 AS break, KL alerted Flip he'll exercise summer '15 out & sign elsewhere. Expect him 2B moved B4 deadline or off season— Peter Vecsey (@PeterVecsey1) February 20, 2014
Now, this would be all well and good if Love really did want out.
However, there's been firm denial from the power forward himself, as he told GQs Steve Marsh, “People think it's so far-fetched that I would stay in Minnesota. And I'm not s------g on the Lakers, but we have the better team, the better foundation. I'm having fun."
Then Flip Saunders, who you can see above*, weighed in:
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 the merits of his suit game, but it's not hard to believe what Minnesota's president of basketball operations is saying.
"Saunders isn't responsible, but it's his job to make the most of this incorrigible relationship," writes B/R's Dan Favale. "And that begins with ending it on Minnesota's terms, before Love inevitably ends it on his."
What do you believe?
If the relationship does become incorrigible, then Favale's thought process is absolutely perfect. But that's still an "if," because all signs are pointing toward the power forward continuing to remain satisfied with his status as a member of the 'Wolves. Both he and his de facto GM have said as much, and the team hasn't allowed any rumors to avoid a prompt squashing.
Anything to the contrary is losing veracity, and in rapid fashion.
Maybe Love will be moved in a draft-day trade, as B/R's Kevin Ding says is more likely, and maybe he'll be traded during the 2014-15 campaign if it's clear Minnesota still isn't a playoff-bound organization. But for now, expect him to keep throwing up double-doubles in the very same uniform.
*That's not really Flip Saunders, but rather Craig Sager. Based on Saunders' tweet, though, this must be what Love imagines he looks like.