As the 2013-14 NBA season reaches its pinnacle in the NBA Finals, the draft and free agency draw closer. And for the 28 teams already focused on the offseason, those two events will loom large over their title chances next season.
The Minnesota Timberwolves are perhaps the most notable NBA franchise that finds itself at a crossroads this summer. With the future of superstar Kevin Love up in the air, the Western Conference hopeful will be looking for long-term stability this offseason.
Below, we'll analyze some of the latest trade chatter surrounding Love and others around the league.
Phoenix Suns Eyeing Franchise Player?
According to league sources, via Yahoo Sports NBA writer Marc J. Spears, the Phoenix Suns have shown legitimate interest in Minnesota Timberwolves star forward Kevin Love:
Suns interested in Love deal w/best assets Dragic, Bledsoe & picks.NBA sources say it will take full max deal to control free agent Bledsoe.— Marc J. Spears (@SpearsNBAYahoo) June 7, 2014
As Spears notes, Eric Bledsoe is set to become a restricted free agent this summer, which could potentially foil Phoenix's hopes of dealing him for Love.
But given how promising the future appears in the desert with Bledsoe starring alongside 2013-14's Most Improved Player, Goran Dragic, Suns fans would more than likely be saddened to see either traded this offseason.
Pro Basketball Talk's Kurt Helin breaks down the dilemma for both teams:
Would Bledsoe or Goran Dragic be among the assets the Suns might offer? Ideally you’d like to pair that backcourt with Love, but the Wolves will be asking a steep price.
That said, if I’m Minnesota I would have to consider the offer. The goal for them is to get picks and quality young players, if the Suns can offer that the Timberwolves would not care if Love re-signs there or not.
For Phoenix, it is potentially a lot to give up if you can’t get Love to stay. Really sets your building program back. And you’re almost certainly not going to get Love to stay.
If Phoenix is unwilling to part ways with either of the "Slash Brothers," it does have a plethora of draft picks to offer up this summer. In all likelihood, it'll take much more than a few picks to bring Love to Phoenix, especially after T-Wolves general manager Milt Newton's recent comments, per the Star Tribune's Jerry Zgoda:
Milt says team wants to keep Love, but said, "If that’s not the case, you best believe we’ll be a better team based on what happens."— Jerry Zgoda (@JerryZgoda) May 29, 2014
However, the risk of losing Love for nothing if he declines his player option next summer could lead Minnesota to settle on a somewhat unfavorable deal.
Cleveland Cavaliers Striking Out?
One landing spot that appears safe to rule out for Love is Cleveland. According to Fox Sports NBA columnist Sam Amico, sources say the Cavaliers are out of the running for the coveted big man:
Kevin Love won't be happening for #Cavs. Joakim Noah "extremely unlikely," source says, adding that team is lukewarm on Al Horford.— Sam Amico (@SamAmicoFSO) June 5, 2014
Amico adds that reigning Defensive Player of the Year Joakim Noah is also too far from Cleveland's reach.
Although the Cavaliers will draft No. 1 overall for the second straight year and for the third time in the past four years, Cleveland's struggles in the post-LeBron James era have likely turned off a majority of the league's biggest stars, who would seemingly prefer to play for a contender rather than a perennial lottery team.
With rumors swirling that even Kyrie Irving isn't content in Cleveland and adversity piling up, the Cavaliers are desperate for a strong 2014 NBA draft and an improved product on the court in 2014-15.
Adding to the Cavs' slew of issues is the fact they are still without a head coach.
Cavs Looking to Deal?
It's no secret that the Cavs are in rebuilding mode and have been for the past four seasons since James bolted for Miami. But while the four-time league MVP's departure set the franchise back significantly, its success in the NBA draft lottery over the years has provided the team with every opportunity to turn things around.
Perhaps it'll require a blockbuster deal to shake things up in Cleveland.
Shortly after reporting that the Cavaliers were unlikely to land a skilled big man via a trade this summer, Amico talked with sources who say Cleveland has been exploring the possibility of moving two of its younger pieces:
Team w lottery pick has also been in conversations w #Cavs, source says. Told Dion Waiters, Tristan Thompson part of exploratory talks.— Sam Amico (@SamAmicoFSO) June 5, 2014
Although the lottery team in talks with Cleveland hasn't been revealed, it's clear that the Cavs front office is open to making a splash this offseason. Dion Waiters and Tristan Thompson are two promising young players for Cleveland, but the Cavs haven't been competitive in either of the past two seasons the duo has played together.
Regardless of whether Cleveland trades either player this summer, it's likely the Cavs will have to sacrifice potential for results in the near future.
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