Kevin Love Reportedly Wants to Play for LA Lakers or New York Knicks

Stephen Babb@@StephenBabbFeatured ColumnistMay 18, 2014

OAKLAND, CA - APRIL 14: Kevin Love #42 of the Minnesota Timberwolves during a game against the Golden State Warriors on April 14, 2014 at Oracle Arena in Oakland, California. 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 Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2014 NBAE (Photo by Rocky Widner/NBAE via Getty Images)
Rocky Widner/Getty Images

Kevin Love rumors are nothing new, but the latest reports surrounding the Minnesota Timberwolves forward attach some potential destinations to the superstar's fate. The New York Daily News' Mitch Lawrence reports that there are two cities that are drawing the superstar power forward's interest:

Kevin Love's people reiterated to the Timberwolves this past week that they had better trade him or else he'll leave via free agency when his contract is up after next season. With Love looking to exit, there's your No. 1 reason the T-wolves have not been able to find a head coach to take over for Rick Adelman. Love wants to play for the Lakers but he's also open to coming to the Knicks.

Take the report with a grain of salt. It comes buried midway through a piece focused on the "hazards" of owners James Dolan and Dan Gilbert getting a little too involved in their respective franchises. Nor is Lawrence especially clear about where this information is coming from.

That said, the report is fairly consistent with previous indications.

In March, ESPN Los Angeles' Dave McMenamin reported that "a source familiar with Love's thinking told ESPNLosAngeles.com that it's not just L.A. that is appealing to Love; he's enamored with the idea of being "big time in a big city," and that list of potential places he'd seek includes New York and Chicago, as well."

New York and Los Angeles certainly count as "big cities," so there's reason to believe Lawrence's report may be on to something.

Part of the question remains how either franchise could get its hands on Love. Even if his camp is pushing for a trade, the Timberwolves still have to find a deal to their liking. That's easier said than done.

One way the Lakers could get their hands on Love is by building a package around their current lottery pick. The idea of trading that pick seems to be a very real possibility from Los Angeles' standpoint, according to the Los Angeles Daily News' Mark Medina:

Yet, [Mitch] Kupchak maintained his stance from last month's exit meetings that the Lakers are open toward trading their current first-round pick should they find a suitable offer.

'It may be a factor,' he said. 'You can only trade a pick if you have a trading partner, too. So their willingness and what they would be willing to give up would be dependent on the pick.'

Could Minnesota become the Lakers' trading partner? Some of that might depend on exactly where the Lakers wind up in the lottery. The rest probably hinges on exactly how much pressure Love is putting on the organization to trade him. He's said the right things publicly, at one point this season telling GQ's Steve Marsh, "we [the Timberwolves] have the better team, the better foundation. I'm having fun."

But reports continue to indicate that he's not having as much fun as he might claim. After a 40-42 season, that makes some sense. Minnesota has thus far failed to build a winner around its best player and may have a ways to go in a crowded Western Conference.

And at the moment, Minnesota is without a coach. There's a chance its hire could entice Love into staying, but there's very little possibility the roster can be significantly improved anytime soon.

Of course, Love could run into similar issues in New York and Los Angeles. It's hard to see how the Knicks could acquire him in the first place, much less surround him with enough talent to form a contender.

Mar 28, 2014; Minneapolis, MN, USA; Minnesota Timberwolves forward Kevin Love (42) runs on the court in the first half against the Los Angeles Lakers at Target Center. Mandatory Credit: Jesse Johnson-USA TODAY Sports

The Lakers' future, while afforded superior financial flexibility, is similarly up in the air. Once Kobe Bryant and Steve Nash move on, there's really no telling whether Los Angeles can build a winner. It has the legacy and draw to do so in theory, but there's certainly nothing concrete in place.

With the draft around the corner, rumors about Love's fate are sure to remain par for the course. He's one of the league's very best players, and he's on a team that can't crack .500 at the moment. But the eagerness to be traded—if it indeed exists—doesn't necessarily translate into a practical deal.

The pressure on Minnesota largely revolves around the risk of losing Love for nothing in 2015, when he can elect to become a free agent. Resolved as the franchise may be to keep its best player in the fold, it's much better off getting something in return should Love decide he wants out one way or the other.


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