Multiple clocks are ticking on the Kevin Love trade front, which seems unofficially officially whittled down to a two-team race.
The Minnesota Timberwolves, Love's current employer, still have options, but keeping the double-double machine around past next summer—when he's expected to opt out of his current contract—has lost its pipe-dream status.
"The All-Star forward is adamant about leaving, either by forcing a trade or on his own," wrote Charley Walters of the St. Paul Pioneer Press. "For a variety of reasons, there is no chance he will change his mind."
That's music to the ears of Love's suitors, a group that now may only include the Cleveland Cavaliers and Chicago Bulls. Sources told ESPN.com's Marc Stein and Brian Windhorst that the Cavaliers "remain the front-runner" for Love, while the Bulls were named Cleveland's "main current threat."
As likely as it seems that Love will wind up with either of these two Eastern Conference giants, this latest news should serve as a slight source of hope for the dark horses in this race. NBA rules prevent both the Cavaliers (Andrew Wiggins) and Bulls (Doug McDermott, Nikola Mirotic) from dealing their biggest trade chips until 30 days after the prospects signed their rookie contracts.
As the ESPN analysts noted, this waiting period "would appear to give other suitors a window to put together an offer that could trump" those currently sitting on Minnesota's table.
In other words, this delay could open the door for those teams that were voluntarily or forcibly removed from this race. It could also bring new bidders to the auction, giving a handful of teams hope to sneak into this sweepstakes.