Report: Washington Wizards 'Stealth Candidate' for Kevin Love

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Report: Washington Wizards 'Stealth Candidate' for Kevin Love
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Kevin Love's smattering of potential trade suitors keeps growing and growing and growing.

Now it's growing some more.

Writing for NBA.com, David Aldridge (h/t Chuck Myron of HoopsRumors.com) says the Washington Wizards have emerged as a "stealth candidate" for Love. He adds that Love has a "soft spot" for the franchise his father, Stan, was a member of during the early 1970s.

That marks the 100th team interested in acquiring Love, for those keeping score at home, which is weird since there are only 30 in the NBA.

Yahoo Sports' Adrian Wojnarowski and ESPN.com's Marc Stein and Ramona Shelburne initially broke the news that Love had no intention of remaining with the Minnesota Timberwolves beyond next season. They named the Chicago Bulls, Golden State Warriors, Los Angeles Lakers, Phoenix Suns and Boston Celtics as expected suitors.

Then Marc Berman of the New York Post said New York Knicks team president Phil Jackson planned to enter the mix.

And then Wojnarowski implored us to keep an eye on the Houston Rockets:

Growing and growing and growing.

Lack of trade assets precludes the Knicks and Lakers from making legitimate offers for Love, but the Wizards still have plenty of competition if they're looking to enter the fray.

Washington already shipped its 2014 first-round pick to the Suns, so it cannot offer that. Aldridge also indicates that Bradley Beal is basically untouchable in trade negotiations, which is no surprise considering how quickly he and John Wall have climbed the backcourt ladder. 

Darron Cummings/Associated Press

Prohibiting themselves from dealing Beal, though, doesn't give the Wizards much to offer—especially when the Warriors, while hesitant, likely won't rule out trading Klay Thompson if it means landing Love.

Here's Bleacher Report's Grant Hughes on the matter:

Klay Thompson is another potential addition here, and his departure would hurt the Warriors most.

Let's just be honest, though: None of those three wings are stars. Thompson is a terrific young player who can shoot the lights out and defend elite perimeter opponents. And he's still on his rookie-scale deal to boot.

The best the Wizards can do—again, if they're hellbent on retaining Beal—is offer some combination of future first-round draft picks, former No. 3 overall pick Otto Porter and Andre Miller's nonguaranteed contract. Working in a sign-and-trade with free-agent-to-be Trevor Ariza is possible, as is including Martell Webster, but the Timberwolves would have to be high on one or both players.

Holding onto Beal isn't a bad idea at all. His ceiling at the shooting guard position is insanely high, and unlike Love, he doesn't have the potential to turn into a rental. Refusing to trade him just diminishes the appeal of what the Wizards can offer.

Their next best course of action would be to remain financially flexible into next summer, when Love is slated to hit free agency. Although that dictates they bid farewell to Marcin Gortat and Ariza in free agency, it's the safer play when the alternative involves gutting their roster of a franchise cornerstone in Beal.

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"At this point, we're not talking to any teams," Timberwolves owner Glen Taylor told the Pioneer Press' Charley Walters. "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."

As should Washington.

Acquiring Love becomes a more realistic endeavor if he remains in Minnesota only to explore free agency, guaranteeing the Wizards a chance to court him without ransacking the roster they've worked so hard to build.

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