Anyone who was scared that the New York Knicks would stop vacationing at Castles in the Sky bed and breakfast once Phil Jackson arrived can rest easy knowing their bags are packed and their invisible jet fueled.
All trade-rumor hell broke loose once Yahoo Sports' Adrian Wojnarowski revealed that Kevin Love doesn't plan on remaining with the Minnesota Timberwolves beyond next season. And as we should all know by now, raising trade-rumor hell is something the Knicks pride themselves on.
According to the New York Post's Marc Berman, Jackson has been "plotting" to whisk Love away from Minnesota for some time:
The Knicks believe they have the expiring contracts — Tyson Chandler and Iman Shumpert in particular — the Wolves might want so Minnesota can keep cap space to go after the star-studded 2015 free agent class.
But the Knicks can’t give up a first-round pick until 2018. Saving that 2018 first-round pick for a potential Love deal was one of the factors in the Knicks deciding not to offer it to Toronto during Kyle Lowry talks.
If true, this isn't some decision Jackson and the Knicks are making on a whim. Kyle Lowry was linked to the Knicks before Jackson even officially joined the team. Their refusal to deal that 2018 first-round pick suggests this Love pursuit has been in the works for a while.
Mitch Lawrence of the New York Daily News confirmed Berman's report, and added that Love is intrigued at idea of playing in New York.
“He wants to go to a big market and play in a winning situation," a league source told Lawrence. “Of course he is interested in the Knicks."
And of course the Knicks are interested in him. They're the Knicks.
To be sure, the Timberwolves have tried to quell any and all chatter already.
“Not by the draft,” Timberwolves owner Glen Taylor said when asked about the possibility of trading Love, per the Star Tribune's Jerry Zgoda.
Attempts to silence or temper conjecture mean little at this point. Rumors will continue to run wild, and there's really nothing Minnesota can do to stop it.
Love has long been considered a potential selling point for free-agent-to-be Carmelo Anthony. The bearded forward is slated to reach the open market in 2015, when the Knicks will have enough cap space to land another star. Never mind that Anthony thrives at power forward, the position Love plays. This pairing will just work itself out—by never coming to fruition.
Sooo...the Knicks are planning to trade Shump and Chandler for Love? Their commitment to anti-defense surprises even me.— Joseph Flynn (@ChinaJoeFlynn) May 19, 2014
Even if the Knicks see Love coexisting with Anthony, even if they see him as a Plan B should the latter bolt in free agency, their chances of acquiring him are less than zero. Plenty of other teams with more appealing offers are going to be involved.
Do the Knicks have a realistic shot at landing Kevin Love?
Between Wojnarowski and ESPN.com's Marc Stein and Ramona Shelburne, we know that the Los Angeles Lakers, Boston Celtics, Golden State Warriors, Chicago Bulls, Phoenix Suns and Houston Rockets are expected to make an aggressive play for the three-time All-Star. Each and every one of those teams has the ability to offer more than the Knicks can. The lone exception might be the Lakers, should their lottery pick diminish in value by way of unfriendly pingpong balls.
The Knicks only become realistic suitors in this feeding frenzy if Love exerts his leverage over the Timberwolves to the fullest extent. He would have to will his way to New York, forcing Minnesota to accept whatever the Knicks are offering.
Yet even then, the odds aren't stacked in New York's favor. Leverage only means so much, as Bleacher Report's Stephen Babb explained:
With the draft around the corner, rumors about Love's fate are sure to remain par for the course. He's one of the league's very best players, and he's on a team that can't crack .500 at the moment. But the eagerness to be traded—if it indeed exists—doesn't necessarily translate into a practical deal.
Free agency was and will remain the Knicks' best chance at acquiring Love. If he hits the open market next summer, assets and draft picks won't matter as much. They'll have the money to sign him, the means to realistically chase him.
Right now, they have little of value to offer.
Unless, you know, the Timberwolves accept payment in the form of pet unicorns and basketball-dominating dragons.
*Salary information via ShamSports.