The tenuous marriage between Kevin Love and the Minnesota Timberwolves may be headed for Splitsville sooner than expected.
According to ESPN.com's Marc Stein and Ramona Shelburne, Love has "made it clear" to team management that he'll leave the Land of 10,000 Lakes by hook or by crook—which, in this case, means either before next February's trade deadline or as a free agent the following July. Should the T-Wolves decide to trade their most prized asset themselves, two of the league's marquee franchises figure to find themselves on the outside looking in:
The Los Angeles Lakers and New York Knicks have likewise been mentioned all season as big-market landing spots that would tempt Love, but going to the best situation for immediate contention is said to be the power forward's priority.
The Lakers and the Knicks, then, can only hope that Minnesota hangs on to Love—and that they each improve their own lots in the interim. For now, neither of those destinations can promise Love or Minnesota what each wants.
The T-Wolves, for their part, seemed to have softened their once-hard stance against dealing the three-time All-Star, per the Associated Press' Jon Krawczynski.
Team owner Glen Taylor, though, has yet to conceded defeat. "You never say never, just because you don’t know what some other team might do -- to prepare you for the future -- but at this point of the year, we don’t even talk about it because it’s not the part of the season where you can talk about it," Taylor told Fox 9 Sports' Lindsey LaBelle on Sunday.
Assuming T-Wolves president of basketball operations Flip Saunders does open up for Love-related trade talks, he should find no shortage of eager and interested suitors. As far as teams that fit the key criteria (i.e. a win-now situation, a trove of assets to make a deal work) are concerned, these clubs should sit atop the list of potential destinations for the sweet-shooting big man at the outset.