With the NBA Draft Lottery on Tuesday night, the fate of Kevin Love might be decided for him before he hits free agency in 2015.
Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo Sports is reporting that Love is attempting to force his way out of Minnesota this summer in order to play with an immediate contender and has expanded his desired locations beyond big market teams like the Los Angeles Lakers and New York Knicks.
The Boston Celtics, Houston Rockets, Phoenix Suns, Golden State Warriors and Chicago Bulls are among the teams who will pursue Love via trade in hopes of signing him to a long-term extension.
Love has let it be known that he will opt out of his contract after next season and his representatives are applying pressure on Timberwolves president Flip Saunders to deal him possibly before the draft on June 26.
Widely considered one of the top three power forwards in the game and a three-time All-Star, Love has never made the playoffs in six seasons with the franchise.
The Lakers only have a lottery pick to offer Minnesota but not much else while the Knicks seem to be focused on resolving the Carmelo Anthony situation and hiring a new coach. The Warriors and Bulls are playoff teams already who would have to trade away key players in order to acquire Love.
Let’s look at the three teams who would have the most realistic shot at landing Love in a trade.
Danny Ainge‘s best shot at keeping star point guard Rajon Rondo in Boston is to acquire another All-Star to play with him. Landing Love would most likely to do the trick. Love would blossom in an offense run by Rondo, a pass-first point guard who could feed him inside, run the pick and roll and free opportunities for him from the 3 as well, where Love is a 36 percent shooter for his career.
Since the Celtics lack attractive players to send out in a trade, Ainge would have to include multiple draft picks, including this year’s likely top-five pick. Instead of drafting Andrew Wiggins, Jabari Parker or Joel Embiid, the Celtics would land Love in hopes of making a return to the postseason as soon as next year.
Dwight Howard, James Harden and Kevin Love? Love reportedly has a close relationship with Rockets coach Kevin McHale and a strong desire to play for him. A frontcourt consisting of Love and Howard would mean the Rockets would control the backboard on both ends of the court. Love is also an ideal fit alongside a player like Howard, who led the Orlando Magic to the Finals in 2009 playing with a stretch 4 in Rashard Lewis.
With four potential first-round picks this year, the Suns may present the Timberwolves with the best option to rebuild through the draft by trading Love. With young, exciting players on the rise like Eric Bledsoe and Goran Dragic, Love would fit in seamlessly with the team.
The Suns ranked seventh in scoring this year and Love was a top-five scorer himself. He’d also make the Suns a much more respectable rebounding team (they finished 13th). Just picture Love making those outlet passes to the likes of Bledsoe, Dragic and swingman Gerald Green on the fast break. He would be a fan favorite in the desert and likely have the Suns back in the playoffs for the first time since the 2009-10 season.