Wolves, Love, suitors all on clock


VIDEO: Wolves owner Glen Taylor discusses hot topic Kevin Love

Poker generally is played without a clock. NBA trades are made, always, against one.

That time element adds one more moving part to all the others in the Minnesota Timberwolves decision to trade Kevin Love, the franchise’s best player since another All-Star power forward named Kevin roamed Target Center.

Call it a calendar if you like – Love can opt out of his contract 338 days from now and hit the open market as an unrestricted free agent on July 1, 2015 – but for all practical purposes, the time intervals are tighter and more urgent than that.

  • The Wolves have only 82 games to convince Love to re-sign another five seasons in Minnesota or lose him without compensation. (Note we’re not counting playoff games, since Love never has appeared in one).
  • Fans in the Twin Cities have only 41 home games remaining to cheer or to jeer the 6-foot-10 power forward as one of their own. (He’ll be back one or two times annually after that, for accuracy’s sake).
  • Any team that traded for Love would be giving up assets for one season’s worth of his services. Two seasons (if Love were to commit to opt-in for 2015-16) or five seasons (if he gave assurances of re-signing that the new team could trust) might entice that team to boost the assets it sends to Minnesota – as long as it avoided a Carmelo/Nuggets/Knicks transfer of talent so great that Love’s new team would suffer in the exchange.
  • Intermediate deadlines are already looming: The Wolves have until the end of September to move Love or open training camp with a potentially unhappy star. The league’s trade deadline is in February, by which time Love and his teammates all might be sick of answering questions about his future whereabouts (and of each other).
  • Potential suitors face deadlines of their own, as far as preparing for the coming season, adding Love and subtracting current players on the fly. Will Golden State up its offer to include Klay Thompson? Will Cleveland back off its resistance to including No. 1 pick Andrew Wiggins? Their value can change every 24 hours.
  • Flip Saunders is on the clock, too, as head coach because owner Glen Taylor wants Saunders sooner rather than later to return full time to his duties as president of basketball operations.

So time is of the essence already in Minnesota’s decision to draw, hold or fold in Love trade talks.

The latest development in the saga – a closely watched one in NBA circles, what with free agency’s biggest names having settled in for the summer – came courtesy of Taylor Wednesday in Las Vegas, where he took on the foregone conclusion of many league insiders and media outlets that Love definitely would be traded soon. On the contrary, the Minnesota billionaire said while sitting in on NBA TV’s summer league broadcast of his team’s game.

“Our plans are he’s going to stay and we’re going to prepare for him and have him as part of our season this year,” Taylor said. “There’s a lot of speculation that he wants to go to another team and I guess my response to that is, we’re going to look at anything that makes sense that would make our team better. But we’re not going to just move a superb player like that without getting equal or more value back.”

As Taylor sees it, Minnesota’s 40-42 finish was due largely to its 6-13 record in games decided by four points or less. It outscored its opponents by 2.6 per game, an unusually fat margin in NBA history for a team missing the playoffs.

Keeping Love as the anchor of a team that has added lottery pick Zach Lavine, with the development of last year’s rookies Gorgui Dieng and Shabazz Muhammad and the play of point guard Ricky Rubio and center Nikola Pekovic, is Taylor’s stated vision. It’s LaMarcus Aldridge changing his mind on Portland, Upper Midwest style.

Whether it’s a bluff or not isn’t clear. But they’re all playing Beat The Clock.

“I’d like to have Kevin back and play under Flip and just see how the coaches utilize him with the other players,” Taylor said. “What Kevin has said to me, he wants to win. I’ve said back to him, ‘That’s all I want too!’

“My preference is that Kevin will come to camp – and I’m sure he will – and plays with the team, with the roster we put around him. And that we win. I think he’ll find out Minnesota has the same thing that he wants, and that is a chance to win and to make it to the playoffs.”

What Love wants isn’t clear, because he hasn’t addressed it head-on. There was his springtime interviews in which he tangentially talked about his preferences. Then a highly publicized long weekend in Boston, home of the pursuing Celtics. But he bowed out of the celebrity softball game Sunday in Minneapolis during MLB All-Star festivities there.

Love, who will turn 26 on Sept. 7, hasn’t issued any ultimatums. If he starts the season with Minnesota and plays hard, up to his All-Star past, fans might be won over from, or at least tire of, razzing him. Then again, if he either stonewalls the media or engages them too fully – he’s a bright guy capable of acerbic responses – or worse, comes down with a “blue flu” at some point during the season, it all could become untenable and another Wolves season might be lost.

Golden State and Cleveland, rightfully, would be loath to send out Thompson or Wiggins, respectively, without the guarantee of at least two seasons of Love. Saunders would be wise not to peddle his power forward for lesser packages, but has to know that his asset – not Love per se, but one season of him – will decline with each game.

There also are voices within the Wolves who are prepared to (gasp!) lose Love for the proverbial “nothing,” preferring to shed his $16.7 million from next season’s salary cap over taking on contracts of mediocre players.

Right now, it’s more sundial than stopwatch. But the clock be tickin’, as Micheal Ray Richardson might say. Time, like Love, is fleeting.

46 Comments

  1. Eddy Griff says:

    I JUST DONT GET IT…why does everybody not see it?? People are saying that lebron and the cavs might not finish first in the east??? I’m FAR from a lebron fan but why do they need kevin love? remember the cavs team that got swept against the spurs? didnt they make it to the finals with Daniel gibson at starting guard and Larry Hughes??? this cavs team, young though they may be, is better equiped to win a championship than the other cavs team that lebron had. Kyrie irving = way better than gibson. waiters >or = to hughes. Varajao= illguaskas with less offense. Wiggins should be better than the bench the cavs had that year with like donyell marshall and drew gooden. and tristan thompson is developing nice. I think the cavs should wait it out and just try to sign love in the offseason. Lebron makes this team a contender

  2. steve says:

    Ever hear of a guy named Ainge. Don’t think that’s over. Draft picks galore and a demographical advantage.

  3. buraot says:

    It will be stupid for Cavs to trade Wiggins for Kevin Love if they can have Love before the playoff starts. Wiggins has the potential to be a ‘great’ player especially if he’s playing with someone like LeBron. **ck the Wolves, let them play hard, in the end they might not get anything.

  4. buraot says:

    It’s really up to Kevin Love. He can let everybody know that he wants to play for the Cavaliers and he won’t sign with any other team after his contract expires next year. This will make other teams back down on trading with the Timberwolves if they know that they can only have Love for a year. The Timberwolves will have no choice but to negotiate with the Cavaliers if that happens instead of getting nothing.

  5. Sportuneteller says:

    Wouldn’t it make more sense to wait a year and keep Wiggins? Cleveland is betting 4years of Wiggins is less than 1 year of Love. It would make more sense to trade Wiggins for some bench players. At least then, they’ll be addressing their needs.

  6. The Wolves are playing this perfectly, but as training camps begin to approach they need to make this deal and get Wiggins and Bennett giving the fans a team to cheer for. Having Love sit around all season as a lame duck while the fans wrestle with “Please Stay” signs and booing him for leaving is not how you want to spend your season especially when you can have multiple elite talents to begin building around now.

  7. Kmac says:

    As a Warriors fan I think there’s too much uncertainty in getting Love for only one season. I’d prefer to keep the team relatively unchanged – all the good teams have been playing together with pretty much the same team for a number of years. Klay is obviously a good shooter (though runs hot/cold) but also developed a good inside game towards the end of the last season. Plus he’s a good defender. Check the stats for how he shut down CP3 in the Playoffs – only stupid fouls hurt him (and the team). Barnes had a shocker of a season but has the work ethic and wants to be great, he’s probably the least risky trade options for the Warriors. Having Iguodala means less minutes for him. D-Lee is such a consistent player, a double-souble machine, and I think people underestimate his hustle and leadership qualities. He and Curry have an amazing connection on the court. I’d hate to see him go. I hope the Warriors resist the Love trade, for now at least. Things would be totally different in a years’ time. Go Dubs!

  8. Flabingo says:

    Kobe is. For Kobe. That is not a sin. No coach that they pick will solve the reality.
    Phil will win before the Lakers win.
    The relationship with the Buss family and Phis is beyond my pay grade.
    And the good news is that POP will not leave at any price.
    Weak owner and selfish player is a bad picture

  9. vincent says:

    avoid what the other Kevin experienced. get out while you can

  10. Really? says:

    For all of you unintelligible folk out there, signing Love is risky business right now. Why pursue a man that has the ability to walk at the end of the 14-15 season? Especially when said trade would involve a 1st pick! I call stupid. Who is to say, that if Love is traded for Wiggins et al. that Love will even end up happy, or lacks chemistry etc in Cleveland?

    What then? It’d sure be a shame, and not to mention waste of talent. Cleveland should use this season as a measuring tool to see whether they can work as a cohesive unit, and if not, or if lacking at PF, then perhaps, if Love is avail, pick him up.

    2cents

  11. cavs fan says:

    I’m sorry k-love is a proven superstar but Wiggins is the future of the cavs and K-love is a dream come true for an opposing offense I think Cleveland should just stay with what we got and make it deep into the payoffs and t-wolves will still be at the bottom and love will end up in Cleveland any ways

  12. Unkaned says:

    Wolfies turned down (a) David Lee, (b) Harrison Barnes and (c) a first-round draft pick for Kevin Love — probably the best offer they’re likely to ever get — is the Wolfies’ management out of its mind? He’s the missing piece of at least 20 other teams next Summer, and the chance of him remaining in Minnesota is 0:5800. Get a grip Wolfies management.

  13. joseph says:

    the Suns got him, apparently they are having a hard time with signing Bledsoe. ship him over to Minny with a couple picks (we have 4 possible total picks in 2015) and Love should be in our hands.

    they get a new up-and-coming star and enough picks to start a re-build process, while the Suns get the frontcourt star they desperately need.

  14. Heat Fan says:

    Funny the coach said flat out they won’t trade Wiggens…… guess he didn’t realize LeBron is player/coach/GM

    LeBron couldn’t do it his first 7 in Cleveland alone, now it looks like he knows he can’t do it without pulling Heat players along with him, we already know that!!

  15. Kobe-Nash-Lakers says:

    Go to LA.. We need you badly..

  16. Mort pm says:

    Heck……….the Warriors aren’t willing to mess up their back court over Love. The Cavs shouldn’t be willing to TRADE away their future over Love. Heck……Love has had many injuries….an so has Irving. Cavs will need a good bench….and they won’t be a LeBron solo act in the playoffs.

  17. martin says:

    hard to fill he roster with his salary. cut it down and go and convice players to join the playoff cause

  18. ...MN says:

    Very dumb comment, rookie contracts have value because you are locking in a player at below market rates, so that is not at all the question. Move would be shortsighted and desperate and Love is not the super-star that will guarantee anything. DON”T DO IT CAVS!

  19. Spurs suit up! says:

    I know this will never happen, but think about this: Kevin Love would be ideal for the SAS team. Tim Duncan is on his way out and what better to get a C/Forward that can open the court, spread the D, shoot the 3 pointer, grab rebounds… This fits perfectly with Pops system… I don’t understand why players look for championships on team that don’t show consistency or haven’t won a championship… Spurs have proven themselves yet no Free Agent wants to head down south to good old Texas!!

    Just a thought….

    Go Spurs Go!!!! Lets get two in a row this year!

  20. kenny says:

    perkins first round draft pick and cash for Love

  21. Adam Wurster says:

    Cleveland Cavaliers better keep Wiggins…trade your next ten years of draft picks instead!!!

  22. ben says:

    Love to the raptors

  23. mark says:

    It will be hard for the cavs or the warriors to get rid of guys who are supposed to be building blocks to the there teams wiggins has a super high ceilings and klay will be a 1 of the best shooters in the game to come and not one of these teams want what happened to the lakers with Dwight Howard to happen to them the only difference is the Lakers did not give up a whole lot to get him I honestly think you can’t replace love because of his position (PF) and his scoring and rebounding ability
    But the wolf’s got a solid player in shabazz and in levine along with Rubio I think.they should trade him and let some other team deal with the drama if stays with them.then he does if not then not T.wolfs are still rebuilding anyways let them.stock pile some.more picks and maybe use them.to make a few trades get some.expireing contracts and move on with out love because you can’t avoid the inevitable so whoever he goes to good to them and to love and for the wolfs there are starting to have the strong back court they need and have a solid center the have swing men the will make the moves that are needed to.move on because to be honest they never recovered from trading Kevin garnett even when it was late in his career so trade him.now get what you can and start improving it’s not like he stood healthy his whole career anyways a big part of the reason why they never are they playoffs is also due in part to him.not being able to play a full season 82 games are tough but after however any years In the nba he should have a more then 1 or 2 years without injury that’s my take on it let someone else deal.with the drama and over on

  24. Go Dubs says:

    Love is the only top 10 player to never make the playoffs. That makes him overrated in my book. Oh right it’s everyone else’s fault.

    • jackstir says:

      If Love was in the Eastern Conference he would have made the Playoffs. So don’t use playoff appearances as an excuse,

  25. Amused says:

    Why should the Cavaliers trade Wiggins for Love? They already have an exciting and very capable team with LeBron, Irving, and Wiggins, and if they just wait patiently, Love will be available next summer for the taking. They should not have to give up anything to get Love, and if they just wait patiently for next summer, they won’t have to. The James/Irving/Wiggins core already in place makes the Cavaliers formidable. A James/Love/Irving/Wiggins core would make them nearly unstoppable.

  26. Kal says:

    the “Screw the cavs” guy is an idiot.
    just sayin.

    you’re lucky to get Wiggins for Love — a #1 pick is better than coming up with nothing in a year from now.
    (and no way Wiggins ends up being that much of a bust.)
    keep dreamin the Cavs will do y’all any deal better than Wiggins — if they even wanna deal Wiggins who if not the next MJ/Kobe or LeBron might at least be the next T-Mac in a few years…

  27. JOEL says:

    LOL at Love for Irving +

    No.

    Love + Martin for Wiggins + Waiters + Pick or something is fair.

    I say pull the trigger.

  28. harrythehawk says:

    King Lebron James wants Kevin Love to Cleveland. He will get what he wants. Because he’s the King. Watch and see.

  29. Rob Gruze says:

    If the Cavs don’t trade Wiggins for Love, they are crazy and are heading down that same path when they first had Lebron of failing to put the talent around him to seriously contend. In the Cavs absolute dream scenario, what would Wiggins ultimately become? Unless the answer is “way better than Kevin Love” and within no more than two or three years, how can they possibly not make that trade? Love is a top 5 player in my book, and top 10 in everybody’s — and the T Wolves were pretty close to making the playoffs in a tough Western conference without much support around Love to speak of. Not to mention that they appear willing to throw in Kevin Martin — who is a great shooter in his own right. Imagine Irving, Martin, James, Love and Anyone at Center — that is a devastating line up. AND, BTW, the Warriors are equally dopey if they don’t trade for Love because they refuse to part with Klay Thompson. Steph Curry, Kevin Martin, Andre Iquodola, Kevin Love and Anyone at Center — an instant upgrade to title contender.

    • great points says:

      and agree 100%. Why would the Cav’s not want to flip the switch on a deal where they get one of the Top 10 (and proven) players in the league?!? Wiggins is a bunch of ??? marks based on the unreliable source of college ball performance. Everyone except Cav’s management seems to know it’s a no-brainer… just trade already! You also point out what i sat up and noticed too: that Kevin Martin would also be in the trade :O Are you freaking kidding me?!? That just makes a great trade even better. The Cav’s have a chance at something big, *BUT ONLY IF* they give up Wiggins – and bring K-Love to Cleveland.

  30. Shan says:

    At this point, I think Love just desires to be free of the T-Wolves. GSW have the pieces, but their slow trigger is a problem for me…Thompson or Love?????? Not much to think about if Love is willing to sign a 5 year deal. I think Thompson is a proven shooter and should do well with the Wolves, but he is also an average defender at best. GSW seems to have this idea that Curry and Thompson are the next big duo in the league. Maybe they missed the the memo!!

    I could of feel like if I’m Love, I just wait until next year, Put a D12…”I’m not talking about it…” The Cavs will be on the table still. If i’m the Cavs….not giving Wiggins up in no deal!! Why? You got a prime LeBron and a Rookie of the Year…and if you wait a hot minute…a contender. This is not 2K, so from a real business prospective…WE WAIT!

  31. brad says:

    Don’t ever click my name????

  32. Trix says:

    I know I am dreaming a little here. Hey I am a fan im allowed to right. But getting Love to warriors without giving up Klay would be the best as a warriors fan. It can be argued that Warriors will have the best shooting PG, SG and PF. There are some competition to that title (not much for steph but others) but they are up there. Love can do more than shoot too. Would be an ideal upgrade over D.Lee. Keeping Bogut and Iggy would also give us two elite defenders on the wing and big. Klay is a decent defender too. Would be a well rounded team. Again a pipe dream but hope it happens.

  33. Panik says:

    Kev, you’re the captain, you’re the leader, I’m sure next season T-Wolves are going in playoffs with you!

  34. bbb says:

    Trade Wiggins for K-Love. This is your championship formula.

    Irwing
    Defensive minded guard
    Lebron
    K-Love
    Varejao

    • Screw the cavs says:

      Wiggins for love? Dont make me laugh! XD wiggins very well could be a bust, and besides wiggins, who can they offer? Waiters? Picks? We want something that is worth the vaule of love so basicly its wiggins and ALL of your first rounders + waiters and thompkins or verajo. Or kyrie erving with a first rounder.

      • you're an idiot says:

        If you did some research before opening your stupid trap, you’d know that T-Wolves and Cavaliers were in talks a few days ago discussing a very real trade deal involving K-Love and Kevin Martin for Wiggins, (i believe) Waiters and future picks (but don’t quote me on the picks). Now go take a hike.

      • Downeuclid says:

        Youre on crack.

    • sports fan says:

      Nobody wants to go to the Lakers AND the Lakers can’t get anyone.
      They won’t get anyone good until Kobe retires.

    • Not happening says:

      Lakers have almost reached there spending cap – and have just picked up big, Ed Davis from Grizzlies. Lakers’ FA shopping spree is over.

    • dolladdict says:

      Totally agree…

    • Lakerslaughingstock says:

      Typical laker fan. Haha. Just admit it lakers are screwed and have no future right now. Enjoy your stay being a lottery team

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