Antes are being officially upped in the Kevin Love trade talks, as the potential price tag is starting to better reflect the caliber of player up for auction.
Love, already a two-time All-NBA selection, won't celebrate his 26th birthday until September. He's either in his prime or still working toward it, and the Minnesota Timberwolves seem to fully appreciate his value.
The Wolves are going to trade Love at some point. That's been clear since the superstar stretch 4 informed them that he plans to opt out of his current contract next summer and "has no interest in a contract extension" from them, as ESPN.com's Marc Stein and Ramona Shelburne reported in May.
Even if forced to act, though, the Timberwolves aren't going to settle for a pennies-on-the-dollar return. They know what they want—"two or three guys that can help them win now" a league source told Baxter Holmes of The Boston Globe—and appear ready to wait for someone to pay that cost.
So, which of the many reported Love suitors are equipped to build the best trade packages?
With Minnesota's desire to compete now, the best offers will feature multiple proven commodities. Teams that can offer present help plus a piece or two for the future should position themselves at or near the front of the pack.
For those clubs willingly tangled up in the NBA's Love Affair, these are the strongest hands they could play.