Minnesota Timberwolves president Flip Saunders said he expects All-Star forward Kevin Love to be with the team next season.
Love is rumored to be traded — perhaps by the June 26 draft — since news came out that he plans to be a free agent after next season.
The Timberwolves would rather get compensation for Love instead of letting him walk.
Saunders responded to Love’s trip to Boston, where he took pictures with fans. Former Timberwolves star Kevin Garnett was traded to the Celtics in 2007. Could Love follow a similar path?
“The last I knew Kevin was under contract with us, and I expect him to be playing for us next year,” Saunders said Sunday. “I don’t really dictate where guys go on vacation or what they do. They can go wherever they want to go.”
Love can opt out of his contract after the 2014-15 season. He reportedly is not interested in a contract extension so he can test free agency and play for a contender. The Timberwolves have failed to make the playoffs since drafting Love in 2008.
The Timberwolves previously refused to trade Love, but have since been open to offers, according to reports. Saunders said the team does not intend to deal him.
“I know there’s a feeding frenzy out there from a lot of teams,” Saunders said. “Unfortunately, they have no say. I plan on Kevin being here.”
Love would likely command a high draft pick and one or two players to entice the Timberwolves. If he becomes a free agent, the Timberwolves can sign him for one year and $26.5 million more than any other team due to salary cap rules.
The Timberwolves are also in search of a new coach since Rick Adelman retired at the end of the season. They interviewed Dave Joerger last weekend, but he decided to remain coach of the Memphis Grizzlies.
Saunders said he would like to hire a new coach by the draft.
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