Kevin Love was one of the best players in the NBA this season. Yet, with his contract only having one year left and the Minnesota Timberwolves surely not wanting to lose him for nothing, his future has become a hot topic heading into the offseason.
Wolves owner Glen Taylor has attempted to downplay the early rumors. He told Charley Walters of the St. Paul Pioneer Press that the team was currently operating under the assumption Love would be on the roster when next season got underway:
At this point, we're not talking to any teams. I haven't heard from Kevin or his agents or anything like that. We're assuming that Kevin will be here next season, and we're working with that scenario. This isn't the time for us to do anything but to prepare for next year.
The rumor mill suggests a different story behind the scenes. Either way, where Love will be playing is likely to remain at the forefront throughout the summer. Let's check out the most appealing options that could be available for all parties involved.
Golden State Warriors
If Love is focused on winning now, the Warriors are probably his best bet. They finished sixth in the Western Conference and have a fellow superstar in Stephen Curry. Adding the talented forward would give the team one of the league's best one-two punches.
Marc Stein and Ramona Shelburne of ESPN.com reported Love has made it clear he doesn't plan on signing an extension with the Wolves but hasn't formally asked for a trade. The Warriors are a team that does interest him if Minnesota seeks out a deal:
Two sources told the AP that the likely asking price would include a high first-round pick in this year's draft and a veteran or two who could bring immediate leadership to a team that lacks it.
Sources told ESPN.com that the Golden State Warriors and Chicago Bulls are among the potential trade destinations that intrigue Love.
Golden State doesn't have the high draft pick the Wolves want, which means another team would probably have to get involved for a deal to get struck. That said, the Warriors are in desperate need of another top-end star to play alongside Curry, and Love fits the bill perfectly.
Los Angeles Lakers
Where will Love end up, if traded?
Perhaps the main reason Love doesn't generate the nationwide attention he deserves is the fact he doesn't play in a major market. If he was putting up the same numbers in Los Angeles or New York, he would probably be one of the league's biggest stars.
It's something that would change if he ends up with the Lakers. Putting him on the same roster as a healthy Kobe Bryant could lead to a very quick bounce back. Mitch Lawrence of the New York Daily News states it's a possibility:
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.
Love is only 25. He could team with Bryant with the hope of chasing down a title, assuming the Lakers are able to get them some support. Then, once the legend steps aside, Love can be the building block for the franchise in his prime seasons. It's exactly the type of move Los Angeles needs.
If not the Lakers, then another one of the league's most storied franchises makes sense. The Celtics are currently in the middle of a rebuild, but they still don't have a cornerstone. Love could obviously fill the void while the front office continues adding other young pieces to the roster.
Of course, if Love is focused solely on winning now, Boston's chances will take a hit. But Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! Sports reports the Celtics have emerged as a sleeper destination thanks to their available assets:
Still, Boston is the sleeper gathering momentum in a process that is still beginning to unfold. The three top prospects in the draft—Kansas' Joel Embiid and Andrew Wiggins and Duke's Jabari Parker—could become franchise cornerstone players in the NBA. Nevertheless, Boston has multiple picks to offer in the next several years as part of a total package for Love, as well as the salary-cap space to perhaps take back an unwanted contract from Minnesota.
Boston is another destination where Love would finally start to get the credit he deserves. Furthermore, trading for him would show the fanbase the light is finally starting to emerge at the end of the tunnel. That combination makes it a top-three option, if he does get moved this summer.