The most talked-about name on the trade block this offseason has been Minnesota Timberwolves power forward Kevin Love, and the rumors are picking up steam as teams gear up to make the blockbuster deal.
Love has drawn serious interest from the Cleveland Cavaliers as a piece to play alongside LeBron James, but the Chicago Bulls have joined the race and now look to be serious contenders to land the talented forward.
Here are the latest rumors surrounding Love, the Bulls and the Cavaliers.
The Cleveland Cavaliers
After signing James via free agency, Cleveland immediately turned its focus to bringing in another star to complement the new acquisition and star point guard Kyrie Irving. The team’s focus has been on Love for weeks.
There has been chatter about the exclusion and inclusion of 2014 No. 1 overall pick Andrew Wiggins in the potential deal, but Chris Broussard of ESPN The Magazine is reporting that the Cavaliers would part with the prospect in an offer for Love.
According to Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo Sports, Cleveland has made a trade to move salary around that should pave the way for a trade with Minnesota for Love:
The Cleveland Cavaliers made a deal to increase their trade asset flexibility in pursuit of Minnesota Timberwolves All-Star forward Kevin Love, absorbing three non-guaranteed contracts in a trade with the Utah Jazz on Tuesday, league sources told Yahoo Sports.
The Cavaliers unloaded the guaranteed deal of Carrick Felix – along with a future second-round pick and $1 million – for John Lucas, Malcolm Thomas and Erik Murphy, sources said.
In two separate reports from Gary Washburn of The Boston Globe and Sam Amico of Fox Sports, J.J. Barea, Kevin Martin and Gorgui Dieng are names who could possibly be involved in a reported deal:
TWolves G Kevin Martin and C/F Gorgui Dieng are other names that have come up in talks with Cavs about Kevin Love, sources say.— Sam Amico (@SamAmicoFSO) July 22, 2014
While Love is not a dominant defensive threat, he is a better defender than Chris Bosh was in Miami and adds more offensively and on the glass. During the 2013-14 season, Love averaged 26.1 points and 12.5 rebounds per game, but he could have accomplished more with a better team around him.
Alongside two viable threats like James and Irving, Love would have ample opportunities to shine.
The addition of James forces the Cavaliers into win-now mode. All signs point to Wiggins being a great player one day, but Cleveland needs game-changers right now. With Love’s presence in the paint at both ends of the court, the potential trade would make the team instant favorites in the Eastern Conference.
The Cavaliers must pull the trigger regardless of the cost.
The Chicago Bulls
Love looked like a lock to be traded to Cleveland, but one team throwing a wrench in the works is the Chicago Bulls. If power forward Taj Gibson is involved in the offer, as is being reported, the Timberwolves need to look long and hard at both potential deals.
According to a report from Marc Stein and Brian Windhorst of ESPN.com, Chicago understands the impact Love can have on a team and will make a late push to acquire him via trade:
The Cleveland Cavaliers are increasingly confident that they will eventually complete the acquisition of Kevin Love, but the Chicago Bulls are making a late push to try to get into the trade mix for the All-Star power forward, according to sources close to the process.
Although the full extent of the Bulls' offer wasn't immediately known, it is believed Minnesota would seek a package from Chicago featuring forward Taj Gibson and defensive ace Jimmy Butler in addition to other assets. The Bulls shelved their Love interest while trying to sign Carmelo Anthony away from the New York Knicks but, according to sources, have re-emerged as contenders.
Adding a player like Love should be a no-brainer for any team, but it just doesn’t make as much sense for Chicago.
Where will Kevin Love play next season?
Chicago cut Carlos Boozer and replaced him with Gasol, but trading away Gibson and other valuable pieces for Love wouldn’t fit the team’s mold. As the best defensive unit in the NBA, Love’s inconsistencies protecting his basket would hurt Chicago at times.
While the franchise is smart to kick the tires on Love and make an educated offer, the Bulls will not outbid the Cavaliers. At most, Chicago could be getting involved to drive the price up and make Cleveland overpay.
Let the mind games begin.
*Stats via NBA.com.