For months, Minnesota Timberwolves president of basketball operations Flip Saunders had downplayed all the trade rumors regarding Kevin Love, stating that he’s never had intentions of trading him before next season while also knowing that Love will walk as a free agent in 2015.
That doesn’t appear to be the case now, as Saunders has engaged a handful of teams about the possibility of acquiring Love, assembling trade offers in the hopes of moving the All-Star forward before the NBA Draft next week on Jun. 26.
Marc Stein of ESPN is reporting that the Timberwolves and Golden State Warriors are discussing a deal that would send Love and Kevin Martin to the Bay Area in exchange for three-point marksman Klay Thompson, David Lee and a future first round pick.
“The Golden State Warriors have greatly increased their chances of acquiring All-Star forward Kevin Love by making sharpshooting swingman Klay Thompson available to the Minnesota Timberwolves in trade talks, according to sources close to the situation.” – Marc Stein
If the Timberwolves are able to pull off the deal, it will net them a rising young star in Thompson, one of the league’s premier shooters, along with Lee, a two-time All Star who averaged a near double-double this past year with 18.2 points and 9.3 rebounds per game. Thompson is a cost-effective player with his rookie scale contract (due $4.4 million next season) combined with his production, averaging 18.3 points, trailing only his teammate Stephen Curry for most three pointers made in the entire league.
A future first round draft pick from Golden State would likely sweeten the deal for Saunders. Currently, the Wolves could draft Rodney Hood, Dario Saric or Kyle Anderson, a few of the players expected to be available to them with the 13th pick (although the Warriors have no pick in this year’s draft).
Boston, Denver, Chicago in the mix as well
As Baxter Holmes of the Boston Globe highlights, the Boston Celtics and Denver Nuggets are two other teams trying to pry Love out of Minnesota and have made offers available as well.
The Celtics lack the trade chips Saunders longs for though, as the Timberwolves apparently are in “win now” mode, according to Holmes, and want more than enticing draft picks in any trade for Love. The combination of the Celtics’ No. 6 and No. 17 picks along with Jared Sullinger, Jeff Green or Kelly Olynyk isn’t enough for Saunders to make a deal.
Acquiring Love would have a major impact on Danny Ainge‘s ability to sway star point guard Rajon Rondo to re-sign with the team before hitting unrestricted free agency next summer. Earlier this month, Love was spotted visiting the city of Boston and briefly met with Rondo before attending a Red Sox game. He was even recruited over Twitter by Red Sox star David Ortiz.
The Denver Nuggets have offered forwards Kenneth Faried and Wilson Chandler, along with draft picks. The Chicago Bulls, who may be focused on clearing cap space to sign Carmelo Anthony, could offer Taj Gibson, Jimmy Butler and both of their first round picks, 16 and 19, in trade talks.
With the draft less than a week away, it appears Love may be finding a new home sooner rather than later.