Report: Love’s labors likely lost to Minnesota

Minnesota Timberwolves forward Kevin Love, left, talks with referee Joe Crawford prior to an NBA basketball game against the Los Angeles Clippers(AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)

Kevin Love can come forward any minute now and say “I don’t want to leave Minnesota.”

Any… minute… now, Kevin.

Kevin?

ESPN reported over the weekend that its unnamed sources — likely Love or his agent — have informed the Minnesota Timberwolves not to bother trying to sign Love to a contract extension because he intends to opt out of his contract at the end of the upcoming season.

Although sources say Love has stopped short of demanding a trade, his position could effectively force the Timberwolves to deal the All-Star forward before next season — or before the trade deadline in February 2015 at the latest — if they hope to dodge the risk of losing him without compensation.

The Timberwolves, at the behest of owner Glen Taylor, have rebuffed all trade interest in Love for months, resisting all trade offers for his franchise player until, as one source put it, he “has no choice.”

Teams around the league are increasingly expected to test that resolve once the lottery order is established, and the Associated Press reports that amid growing concern, that stance has softened somewhat.

The report said the Chicago Bulls and Golden State Warriors are two teams that Love might be interested in being traded to.

The Timberwolves noted that Love can make a lot more money here than somewhere else.

The Wolves cannot talk to Love about extending his contract until January 2015, at which point they are allowed to offer him a two-year extension. If he chooses to not accept that extension and Love does indeed choose to opt out of his current deal, the Wolves will have the opportunity to begin negotiating with Love in July 2015. Through the league’s Collective Bargaining Agreement, the Wolves have Bird Rights when it comes to Love’s contract and can offer him $26 million more over the life of his next contract than any other team in the league.

But Love has all the money he needs and you only live once. Why spend your career playing for a basket-case franchise.

Timberwolves owner Glen Taylor reiterated on Sunday that the team doesn’t intend to trade Love. But while Taylor isn’t used to not being in the driver’s seat, he didn’t get rich by not seeing the obvious.

According to Sports Illustrated

The Timberwolves have plenty of time to weigh their options here, and there’s no need to rush into a panic trade. That said, Saunders spent up most of their flexibility with a series of big dollar deals last summer that failed to move them into playoff positioning.

It’s therefore difficult to blame Love if he’s gazing around for greener pastures at this point, and Minnesota must face the facts about the situation: stars want to win, the Timberwolves haven’t won in a decade, and Love owes the organization no favors after his last round of contract negotiations were badly mishandled. Soliciting trade offers — and maybe even setting off a bidding war — is the right move for the Timberwolves at this point, even if it doesn’t necessarily result in a deal this summer.

Where else could Love go? Boston, which has draft picks and a few players to trade. Boston.com says it’s a good fit:

The good news for Ainge though is that he’s built himself quite the treasure chest of trade assets in the past couple seasons. The Celtics have nine first round draft picks over the next five seasons, a $10 million dollar trade exception, a pool of young talent, and a number of unguaranteed contracts that could help facilitate any deal.

The combination of these trade chips makes it likely the Celtics will be able to outbid any other team for the services of Love and still improve other parts of the roster with whatever assets that remain.

And the Celtics and Timberwolves have been down this path together before, when Kevin Garnett pushed his way out of town in the interest of winning a championship.

That worked out well for the locals.

  • MrE85

    Goodbye, thanks, and best wishes with the new team. Send us a postcard when you get settled.

  • kevinfromminneapolis

    Good riddance. I’m willing to let pretty enormous jerkitude slide and enjoy great athletes, but this guy, wow. The constant whining at officials, obvious displeasure with being here, his two-faced nature about getting caught being obviously eager to leave, the fact that the team is looking for a veteran leader in return for the guy who should be its veteran leader. Stop blaming it on David Kahn not giving him a maximum contract. I swear if he says, “I’d love to stay in Minnesota but…” I’ll lose my gourd.

  • No renovations this summer and no Love next year. Wolves likely entering another “rebuilding” phase. To top it off: the highest season ticket prices since the last “rebuild.” Good luck and Godspeed, Timberwolves.

  • Matty Lang

    Everybody take a deep breath. It has been known since David Kahn initially dropped the ball on Love’s contract that he would be taking the early opt out–he would be stupid not to opt out. This is not news. Additionally, there has been no announcement that Love will not consider signing another contract with the Wolves.

    • The “news” isn’t that he’s telling the TWolves he’s going to opt out. The “news” is that he’s telling them he’s not signing an extension. I tend to believe the sources on this so that there has been no announcement from the team doesn’t impress me a whole lot. It’s over.

      The team would be foolish to try to play another season with Love. (a) It would be an absolute disaster every night (b) It hinders the marketing of the team to “come see what won’t be around much longer,” which isn’t that catchy even by Timberwolves slogan standards and (c) every game he plays for the Timberwolves, his value in a sign-and-trade drops.

      • The marketing slogan last year was “Don’t Blink” which is about as close as you can come to “come see what won’t be around much longer.”

      • Matty Lang

        i think it was always clear that he wouldn’t sign an extension. The best move for him financially was always to opt out and then sign a new 5 year max deal with the Wolves. Will he do that or will he walk away from the extra $30 million instead? That’s to be determined.

        • Well, this is the second sourced report that he’s told the TWolves “don’t bother.” So I think the only thing we don’t know is that there’s been an announcement. I can’t imagine starting next season with him on the team. It will be a huge distraction. On the other hand, considering the gutless way the team played at the end of last season, a distraction might be the only thing that gets people to go to the games.

          • Matty Lang

            Love said don’t bother with an extension, right? My understanding is that he has not said there’s no way he’d sign a new 5 year deal, just not the extension that they could offer him.

            There are potential deals out there that I could be OK with for trading Love, but he’s a top 5 player and it’s almost impossible to get equal value for that in a trade. Add in the fact that I have little confidence in Flip and Glen coming out on top of a Love trade, I’d probably want to take my chances that they make a splash in the playoffs next season and he decides to stay.

  • John O.

    I gave up on this franchise a long, long time ago. Wile E. Coyote has better odds of catching the Road Runner than the Wolves have of ever winning an NBA championship.