NBA AM: Is It Time For Minnesota To Trade Kevin Love?

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The Kevin Love Conundrum:  In January of 2012, Minnesota Timberwolves forward Kevin Love inked a four-year, $62 million contract extension to remain in Minnesota. The deal did not include the Wolves one time franchise designation and gave Love a player option for free agency in July of 2015.

At the time the belief was the Wolves would need that one time roster designation for incoming guard Ricky Rubio and that extending Love down the road would be the way to keep the Wolves’ budding core together. The problem for the Wolves is as much as the plan seemed to make some sense on the surface, in practice the Wolves now find themselves in a tough spot.

The 19-21 Timberwolves have lost six of their last ten games and is as average of a basketball team as they come, despite Love having another solid season. Love is averaging better than 25 points per game, grabbing 13 rebounds per contest on 45.9 percent field goal shooting and a scorching 39.1 percent from three. Hard to say Love could do much more for his club and at times that’s boiling over into the locker room.

The Wolves find themselves at a crossroads. The NBA trade landscape has changed dramatically and teams are often unwilling to trade for player that could walk away as a free agent and Love seems poised to do just that in 2015.

Despite being the Wolves best player, without question, the Wolves may have to face the reality that trading Love is not only the answer, but is inevitable.

The 2014 NBA Trade deadline is in roughly 31 days. It is unlikely that Minnesota even considers moving Love this season, but it does seem clear that the Wolves will have to explore Love’s trade value around the draft, especially if he is unhappy with what’s looking more and more like another missed opportunity in the postseason.

The Wolves would be unwise to wait out Love’s contract, mainly because more and more teams are finding little to no marketplace for potential free agents simply because of the ‘rental” factor. Teams won’t give up significant assets for a player they may lose to free agency.

» In Related: Is The Ricky Rubio Hype, Unwarranted?

The Wolves almost have to be preemptive in moving Love is they want to extract any real value out of him.

The good news for Minnesota is that Love and team president Flip Saunders have a solid relationship and talk frequently. That’s will likely lead to an honest dialogue about the future and Love’s desires.

The have been rumors that Love wants to explore his options in 2015 and the chance to play in LA is appealing, especially for a kid born in Santa Monica.

It’s unlikely that the Wolves do anything with Love in-season, but at the trade deadline nears you can bet a few teams try and tempt the Wolves into a deal, especially if the remain outside the playoff picture and continue to have issues both on the floor and in the locker room.

As things stand today, the Wolves hold the 11th seed in the West and are four and half games out of the eighth spot. The Wolves biggest struggles have been on the road this season where they are 8-14 and have an equally dismal conference record of 9-18.

As in conceivable as it may seem to Wolves fans, the time to trade Love is approaching and while the trade deadline might offer some temptation the right move might be moving Love around the NBA draft where he could be flipped in a deal that includes a high level draft pick.

If the LA Lakers are genuinely the ultimate destination, the Lakers are going to need better than the tenth overall pick they are currently projected to receive to pry Love out of Minnesota this summer, even though they’d have the cap space to absorb his deal.

If there was ever a reason to ‘tank’ it’s not for the player the Lakers could obtain with the draft pick, it’s that a top five pick might be enough to get Minnesota to accept the inevitable – they are going to have to trade Love. The question for Minnesota simply remains to whom and for what?

» So did you miss something this weekend? Here are some of the must read Basketball Insiders items that dropped on Saturday and Sunday: Joel Brigham dropped the Six Things to Know About the Indiana Pacers. Houston’s Dwight Howard told Jessica Camerato that he is happy to finally be out of the trade rumors. Portland rookie CJ McCollum talked with Alex Kennedy about his friendship with team mate Damian Lillard. KObe Bryant dropped a gem on Jessssica Camerato, saying he thought Boston guard Rajon Rondo was “an a-hole like me”. Nate Duncan breaks down the Golden State Warriors and why it works best when Andrew Bogut is on the floor.

Joel Anthony OK With Trade:  Joel Anthony was traded from the Miami HEAT to the Boston Celtics are part of a multi-team deal last week that shed the bulk of Anthony’s contract money from the HEAT’s books and landed Anthony in a rebuilding situation in Boston.

Anthony has a great attitude about the move. He admitted that he was sad to leave the situation in South Beach, smiling and saying that the fit really could not have been better for him personally and professionally.

Anthony smiled when asked about the weather change, going from the balmy beaches of Miami to the cold and clutter of Boston. He reminded that he was born in Montreal, Canada and that he “remembered” the cold, but acknowledged his blood might have thinned a little living in Florida.

Anthony won two championships with the HEAT and said he will forever treasure the memories and the friendships he made in Miami, but he understood the business move the HEAT felt they had to make.

» In Related: The Boston Celtics Salary Figures.

Anthony who has a player option worth $3.8 million next year said he believes he’ll get a chance to play in Boston, something he was not doing in much of in Miami. He sees the Celtics as a chance to remind people that he does have ability in the NBA and that while he was asked to be a defensive force for the HEAT, there is more to his game than being big and defensive.

Anthony is one of the many players in the NBA that sign option or non-guaranteed deals that almost assure they are traded at the end of their deal. Anthony smiled and said he was OK with the move and that while going from a contender to a team in transition isn’t always easy, he hopes that his stop in Boston helps him get his game back on track, which could be timely for a player who might test free agency in July.

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