It's time for the Los Angeles Lakers to get serious and take a shot at Kevin Love.
By all accounts, the 25-year-old superstar is available. It is common knowledge the Lakers have been biding both time and cap space to secure major players via free agency, but the possibility of Love opens a new avenue the front office must explore.
The New York Daily News' Mitch Lawrence confirms that Love has told the Minnesota Timberwolves he plans on leaving after next season, and the report also states that a certain team from Los Angeles has his eye:
Kevin Love's people reiterated to the Timberwolves this past week that they had better trade him or else he'll leave via free agency when his contract is up after next season. With Love looking to exit, there's your No. 1 reason the T-wolves have not been able to find a head coach to take over for Rick Adelman. Love wants to play for the Lakers but he's also open to coming to the Knicks.
Shortly after, a source told Marc Berman of the New York Post quite the interesting nugget of info: "Another source said the Lakers also will make a monster push at trading for Love, who played at UCLA."
It can be easy to dismiss what the Lakers have to offer the Timberwolves in a massive deal, but don't sleep on the possibility of the front office shipping this year's No. 7 overall to Minnesota. It's not like the Lakers are known for making lottery picks anyway.
Mitch Kupchak has sounded open to the idea for a lengthy period of time now, as captured by the Los Angeles Daily News' Mark Medina:
Yet, Kupchak maintained his stance from last month's exit meetings that the Lakers are open toward trading their current first-round pick should they find a suitable offer.
"It may be a factor," he said. "You can only trade a pick if you have a trading partner, too. So their willingness and what they would be willing to give up would be dependent on the pick."
What's interesting is that the Timberwolves have to understand Love is gone. He and his people have said as much, and Love, like any superstar mired in a medium-sized market, would do whatever it takes to play for the Lakers—even if they are coming off the worst campaign in franchise history.
With that understanding, and being dealt a horrific hand with the No. 13 overall pick in the lottery, one can presume the front office would love to grab another pick—this one in the top 10—and a bevy of future assets (In theory, the team could hold onto Love through most of next season, but shopping him to the teams that hold the top 10 picks in a superb class seems the smarter move).
Simply put, it's an offer the Lakers have to make. No, the draft pick is not worth that much to a franchise that wants to win now. Plus, as ESPN's Ryan Feldman breaks down, the value disparity is massive, to say the least:
Love had 14.3 win shares this season, easily a career high. He also set career highs in points per game, assists per game, 3-pointers made and player efficiency rating.
The most win shares by any rookie in the last 20 seasons was 12.8 by Tim Duncan in 1997-98. The most by any second-year player in the last 20 seasons was 14.3 by LeBron James in 2004-05.
Yes, the Lakers could just sit back and let another superstar free agent come to town. They have the cap space to do so. But that strategy has been rather hit or miss, and a lengthy investment in Love for the duration of his prime years to help absorb the impact of Kobe Bryant's looming departure is the best move of all for a front office that has consistently displayed ineptitude in recent years.
It will cost a fortune. The competition to obtain Love is undeniably fierce. Los Angeles would love nothing more than to push this pursuit off another year, but when push comes to shove, it has to happen now by whatever means necessary. Prepare the "monster."