Breaking Down the Kevin Love to Los Angeles Lakers Connection

Dan Favale@@danfavaleFeatured ColumnistMarch 31, 2014

MINNEAPOLIS, MN - FEBRUARY 4:  Kevin Love #42 of the Minnesota Timberwolves stands on the court before the game against the Los Angeles Lakers on February 4, 2014 at Target Center in Minneapolis, Minnesota. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this Photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2014 NBAE (Photo by Jordan Johnson/NBAE via Getty Images)
Jordan Johnson/Getty Images


If there's one question worth asking about Kevin Love's connection with the Los Angeles Lakers, it's "Why?"

Rumors have linked the two parties for some time—a long time. It's bizarre how often they've been looped together. It's even obnoxious.

More than a year before Love hits free agency, he's already being fitted in purple and gold by so many. His arrival is considered inevitable.

One general manager even told ESPN Insider's Chris Broussard (subscription required) that Love to Los Angeles is a "100 percent certainty." That was in January, nearly 18 months ahead of Love hitting the open market.

Like I said, it's obnoxious. 

LeBron James isn't facing that kind of predetermined future, nor has he ever. Neither has Carmelo Anthony. No free-agent-to-be in recent memory has been associated with one potential suitor as much as Love and the Lakers. And it's about time we asked, "Why?"

Why Love? Why the Lakers? 

Why is Love consistently considered part of the Lakers' future when he's still under contract with the Minnesota Timberwolves?

California Connection

Flog, meet dead horse. Go crazy.

Love's California ties have been dissected and sensationalized to no end. He was born in Santa Montica, attended UCLA and has played beach volleyball at least once. 

That must mean he's going to sign with the Lakers in 2015, right?



Russell Westbrook, who was born in Long Beach, attended Leuzinger High School in Lawndale and also went to UCLA, will be signing with the Lakers when he hits free agency in 2017. Klay Thompson, who was born in Los Angeles, will join the Lakers via 2015 restricted free agency as well. Paul George, a native of Palmdale, might even request a trade to the Lakers after the Indiana Pacers fail to win an NBA championship this year.

That's how these things work, after all.

Unless they don't.

Which they don't.

But people like to think they do.

Using Love's California connections to predict where he'll inevitably land is thin. Stephen Curry's awkward-looking mustache thin.

"You know, my parents live there and they had me there," Love said of Los Angeles after his Timberwolves' 143-107 drubbing of the Lakers, per ESPN Los Angeles' Dave McMenamin. "It's not my fault."

Indeed, it's not.

Logical Target

LOS ANGELES, CA - DECEMBER 20: Kevin Love #42 of the Minnesota Timberwolves reacts during a game against the Los Angeles Lakers at Staples Center on December 20, 2013 in Los Angeles, California. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, b
Noah Graham/Getty Images

Since the whole "Love bleeds California" storyline is a tad overblown, there has to be something stronger at work.

Like, you know, convenience.

Love is expected to opt out of his contract after next season. As of now, the Lakers only have Kobe Bryant on their books beyond 2014-15. You do the second-grade-level math.

Although the Lakers will also have ample cap space this summer, chances of them spending freely on star sidekicks for Bryant are slim. 

Chris Bosh, per Bleacher Report's Ethan J. Skolnick, already has King James, along with himself, staying with the Miami Heat, and pairing an aging, ball-dominating Anthony with an aging, ball-dominating Bryant could be a recipe for disaster.

After Anthony and James (and Bosh), this year's free-agency ranks thin out. Luol Deng may be the biggest name available, and he cannot alter the course of an entire team the way Anthony or James, among others, can.

In the likely event the Lakers don't stage a free-agency spending spree this summer, they'll look to 2015 when their books are wiped nearly clean and Love just so happens to be an unrestricted free agent.

Now isn't that convenient.

The Lakers are in need of another superstar. Love is a superstar approaching free agency and a flight risk at that.

Love has expressed frustration over his current situation in Minnesota numerous times. Now that he finds himself playing through a sixth straight postseason-less basketball campaign, his morale isn't going to improve.

The Lakers are so confident Love is displeased that, according to ESPN's Marc Stein, they're already counting on him becoming available before 2015:

The suggestion is already in circulation that the Lakers will attempt to use their forthcoming high lottery pick in June to assemble the sort of trade package that finally convinces the Wolves to part with Love and end the uncertainty that hangs over this franchise even before the 25-year-old enters the final year of his contract. Yet there is just as much defiance emanating from Minnesota, as we speak, about the Wolves' ability to keep Love in town.

Now isn't that equally convenient.

A large part of the Lakers' connection to Love has to do with his attainability. If James were unhappy in Miami, you better believe his name would be cropping up in Los Angeles circles more than they have in the past. 

The Lakers have given up on that dream, though. James is no longer the hope.

B/R's own Kevin Ding revealed the Lakers aren't preparing to break bank this summer because of how unlikely a successful free-agency coup is. And given Love's track record in Minnesota, there isn't a more realistic free-agent option for them to zero in on at the moment.

If you're a superstar-hunting general manager, who are you more inclined to chase, a possibly unhappy flight risk or a longer-than-long shot stud who might not want to leave his current home?

Mutual Fit

DENVER, CO - March 3: Kevin Love #42 of the Minnesota Timberwolves during the game against the Denver Nuggets on March 3, 2014 at the Pepsi Center in Denver, Colorado. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using
Bart Young/Getty Images

More than anything, Love and the Lakers just make sense.

For what they both need, for what they're both lusting after, they make sense.

On one side, you have the fading Lakers, who are desperately trying to prepare for life after Bryant while also preserving what little time he has left. 

On the other side, you have Love, a veteran superstar who has yet to play a minute of postseason basketball at the NBA level and has a history of butting heads with his current organization.

Finding a better mutual fit is going to be difficult, if not impossible.

Not that Love's potential road to Los Angeles is smoothly paved in purple and gold. There are going to be obstacles. 

According to McMenamin, Love's eventual free-agency search is expected to lead him to the New York Knicks and Chicago Bulls, two teams with the resources and market appeal he's believed to value.

At the same time, Love's alleged interest in moving on from small-market purgatory bodes well for the Lakers. Their paths continue to intertwine for a reason—plenty of them, in fact.

Aside from Love's West Coast ties and sheer convenience, it just makes sense. It just feels right.

The Lakers need a superstar to usher them into the post-Kobe Bryant era, and who better to do that than a top-10—maybe top-five—talent desperate for a chance to win? And who better for Love to wind up with than the Lakers, 16-time champions with a propensity for figuring things out?

This saga is far from over. In many ways, it's just beginning.

Love does not have absolute control over his own future until summer 2015, and the Lakers cannot pursue him outside a trade for another 12-plus months either.

Until then, expect more of this. More rumors, more speculation.

More connecting of the dots between two parties of equal stature believed to be after the same things.

*Player and salary information via Basketball-Reference and Shamsports unless otherwise noted. 


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