Conjecture has reached new levels of "let this end already" since Yahoo Sports' Adrian Wojnarowski revealed that Love's unhappiness in Minnesota was no longer news to the Timberwolves. Potential suitors have slunk out of the woodwork, each (presumably) dangling assets in hopes of convincing Minny the time to trade its All-Star forward is now.
Saunders isn't buying what other teams are selling, though, per The Associated Press' Jon Krawczynski:
Flip: "I expect Kevin love to be here next year."— Jon Krawczynski (@APkrawczynski) June 1, 2014
He also wants interested clubs to understand it's the Timberwolves who are in control, according to the Star Tribune's Jerry Zgoda:
More Flip: "I know there's a feeding frenzy out there from a lot of teams, unfortunately they have no say. I plan on Kevin being here"— Jerry Zgoda (@JerryZgoda) June 1, 2014
In layman's terms, that should nix any pre-draft departure Love's admirers were hoping to broker. But we know better.
What else is Saunders supposed to say? That Ricky Rubio has a better chance of winning next year's three-point competition than Love has of starting the season in Minnesota?
Presidents and general managers aren't ones for complete transparency. Just because they're speaking, it doesn't mean they're telling the truth. They most certainly could be, or they could be slinging some first-rate, self-concocted hokum.
At a minimum, Saunders' comments cannot be taken as a sign that Love isn't available. Owner Glen Taylor has already let that cat out of the loosely tied bag.
"I'm not in a position where you would say absolutely I wouldn't do it, because what if something that I can't even speculate (on) happens?" he told the Pioneer Press' Charley Walters. "You'd say, 'You're nuts, Glen.' Maybe some team puts a value on him that's different than we suspect."
Nuts, crazy, delusional, very David Kahn—failing to at least entertain Love offers would be all of those things.
No triggers have to be pulled, of course. Like Bleacher Report's Adam Fromal explains, there might not be a package out there that compels the Timberwolves to trade Love's rebounding, shooting and facial grooming:
Chances are, no team is going to come up with a Godfather offer for Kevin Love.
The threat of him walking away after just one season in a new uniform is too great for teams to completely break the bank and leave all other offers in the dust. But at the same time, Love is such a talented and useful big man that impressive packages are still going to come flowing into the Minnesota Timberwolves' offices.
What will the Timberwolves do with Kevin Love?
Underwhelmed by what's out there, the Timberwolves could wait, with the hope being that interested teams get more desperate as the trade deadline approaches. They could also hold on to Love for all of next season and take their chances in free agency. A playoff berth would be the foundation for him to re-embrace the idea of remaining in Minnesota.
Resting their hopes on making the playoffs—something they haven't done since 2004—makes little sense for the Timberwolves, though. Too much risk is involved. One measly playoff appearance in 11 years isn't necessarily enough for Love to re-sign long term.
Sooner or later, the Timberwolves must face facts, ditch this for-appearance's-sake game and openly let the bidding begin.
Bet on sooner.