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Kevin Love Reportedly to Choose Between Timberwolves or Lakers in Free Agency

Los Angeles Lakers' Ryan Kelly, left, tries to slow down Minnesota Timberwolves' Kevin Love in the second half of an NBA basketball game against the Minnesota Timberwolves, Tuesday, Feb. 4, 2014, in Minneapolis. The Timberwolves won 109-99. The game marked the first for Nash since early November as he recovered from a back injury. (AP Photo/Jim Mone)
Jim Mone/Associated Press
Zach BuckleyNational NBA Featured ColumnistJanuary 10, 2017

Everyone seems to know what Kevin Love will do in free agency other than Kevin Love himself.

The three-time All-Star can opt out of his contract after next season and jump to the front of the 2015 free-agent market. A prolific scorer (26.6 points), relentless rebounder (13.2 boards) and productive passer (4.1 assists), he's sure to attract suitors like an uncommitted blue-chip prospect.

According to a recent report, though, only two teams really stand a chance.

"The word is Love will either re-sign with Minnesota or head to the Lakers, which sounds more plausible," Frank Isola of the New York Daily News wrote.

Even though no one has actually hit the course yet, the Minnesota Timberwolves and Los Angeles Lakers have long been seen as the clubhouse leaders in the Love sweepstakes. 

Both teams have a familiarity to sell him.

The Wolves have been writing his NBA checks since landing him in an eight-player trade on draft night 2008. He has developed into a superstar under their watch, becoming the first player since 2000 to average at least 26 points and 13 rebounds.

The Lakers have some history to help lure him in—and not just the franchise's storied past.

Love was born in Santa Monica and played his college ball at UCLA. He could have the benefit of a homecoming, along with an upgrade in market size, potentially leading to better business opportunities.

Those outside of Minnesota have largely given L.A. the lead in this race. An Eastern Conference scout told CBS Sports' Ken Berger, "No one thinks he's staying. Everyone knows he wants to go to the Lakers."

Hall of Fame sports columnist Peter Vecsey took the things a step further saying Love has already informed the Timberwolves that he will be leaving next summer:

Wolves president of basketball operations Flip Saunders quickly denied that report:

The only indications that Love himself have given have seemed to keep all of his options open. He hasn't made a decision one way or another, although he did make it a point to stress that staying with the Timberwolves is a possibility.

"People think it's so far-fetched that I would stay in Minnesota," he told GQ.com's Steve Marsh. "And I'm not s------g on the Lakers, but we have the better team, the better foundation. I'm having fun."

Of course, a lot can change between now and 2015.

This won't be an easy decision.

The Wolves clearly have the better pieces in place right now, but they're still sitting 4.5 games behind the eighth-seeded Phoenix Suns. They have to hope this current core has enough to make a postseason run, because this group is almost entirely under contract for next season.

The Lakers have an aging Kobe Bryant, and his $23.5 million salary, for each of the next two seasons. Steve Nash has $9.7 million left on his deal if his body hasn't forced him off the floor for good.

Outside of those two players, nearly every other roster spot is fluid. If L.A. guesses right, it could be on the verge of a rapid rebuild. If it makes a bad investment, though, this franchise might be a draft-lottery participant for a while.

There are risks and potential rewards for Love to consider with both of his landing spots.

Luckily, he has over a year to figure out how to make that call. And we have that same amount of time to try to make it for him.

 

Salary information obtained via ShamSports.com.

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