Following a report that Minnesota Timberwolves All-Star Kevin Love has “no interest” in re-signing and plans to test free agency next summer, per ESPN’s Marc Stein and Ramona Shelburne, owner Glen Taylor shot down speculation that the frustrated star could be moved before the 2014 NBA draft.
“Not by the draft,” Taylor said prior to Sunday’s Minnesota Lynx home opener at Target Center, per the Minneapolis Star Tribune’s Jerry Zgoda.
Well, it doesn’t get much clearer than that.
Taylor added that he hasn’t discussed Love’s situation with president of basketball operations Flip Saunders, and he said that the big man has not requested a trade, per Zgoda.
It may seem wise that T-Wolves management doesn’t plan to move Love prior to June 26—the date of the draft. That decision allows Minnesota to weigh all options and quell some of the rampant speculation surrounding Love’s future.
Additionally, it may boost his market value as more suitors enter the fray with offers.
By contrast, however, picks in the 2014 draft are coveted. The Boston Celtics, Los Angeles Lakers and Phoenix Suns all have lottery picks they could choose to package in a potential trade. Minny will lose out on those possible assets by waiting to deal the talented power forward.
While moving forward from the face of the franchise is certainly a tough pill to swallow, netting immediate value via draft picks this summer would aid a seemingly inevitable rebuilding process.
Also, since Love plans to opt out of his contract after 2014-15, his trade value may diminish if teams feel as if they can simply wait and sign him to a max deal next summer.
It seems increasingly likely that Love doesn’t plan to return. The Timberwolves cannot afford to lose him without compensation. As a result, hauling in as many assets as possible is the best solution—short of a change of heart from Love.
Still, Taylor’s stance may not be set in stone. As Zgoda writes, the 2014 draft lottery could have an immediate impression:
Tuesday’s draft lottery will impact whatever decisions the Wolves soon make concerning Love. The Los Angeles Lakers and Boston—two teams expected to pursue Love if the Wolves decide to trade him—own a top-six picks and realistically could win one of the draft’s top three picks.
If either the Lakers or Celtics vault into the top three courtesy of the Ping-Pong balls, the outlook of landing a guy like Duke’s Jabari Parker or one of the Kansas standouts—Andrew Wiggins or Joel Embiid—could sway Taylor’s viewpoint.
Of course, that doesn’t guarantee either of those aforementioned organizations would still be willing to part with their lottery pick. If they vault into the top three, standing pat may make more sense.
With that said, Love may not have interest in joining any of those aforementioned teams. Any team looking to add him would need his blessing. Without the promise that he’d sign on long term, no franchise would be desperate enough to make that expensive gamble.
So where could he land if not to a team with lottery picks to deal?
Bleacher Report's Grant Hughes wrote the following of a potential deal with the Warriors:
Golden State is an exciting destination, with loads of talent and enough intriguing assets (David Lee, Harrison Barnes and/or Klay Thompson, to name three) to pull something off. And with the added pressure of winning big under new head coach Steve Kerr, perhaps the Dubs will be extra motivated to swing a deal.
As for the Bulls, a package including Taj Gibson and draft picks or the rights to European standout Nikola Mirotic is certainly intriguing.
Even the New York Knicks—who are admittedly short-handed on assets—have joined the fray. According to the New York Post's Marc Berman, new Knicks president of basketball operations Phil Jackson "has been plotting to be involved in making something happen with Love via a trade."
Berman explains that New York can offer expiring contracts—Tyson Chandler and Iman Shumpert—to help Minnesota free up cap space moving forward.
The whirlwind situation is sure to become clearer in the coming months. Regardless of when (or if) Taylor and Co. decide to pull the trigger on a deal, suitors will continue lining up. At this point, however, it's difficult for the Timberwolves to carry any leverage.