The NBA trade deadline has passed so Kevin Love isn't leaving the Timberwolves in the immediate future, but that doesn't mean he isn't going to be traded this summer.
Grantland's Bill Simmons' best guess is that Love will ride out one more season in Minnesota before opting out of the final year of his contract to join the Lakers through free-agency in 2015. If the Wolves don't extend Love's contract or trade him, they risk losing him for nothing – so trading him would be ideal if he's going to leave anyway.
Wolves President of Basketball Operations Flip Saunders shot down a report last month that said Love had already informed the team that he plans on forcing an early exit.
Simmons believes Phoenix, Los Angeles, Chicago and Boston are four viable trading partners for the Wolves, with Boston holding the most trading chips.
The Celtics want to keep point guard Rajon Rondo, and teaming him up with Love would help lure another star to town through free-agency, thus creating a new "Big Three," similar to what Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce and Ray Allen formed in 2007.
Here's how Simmons projects a trade scenario between the Wolves and Celtics playing out.
Let’s say the Celtics lose the 2014 lottery and end up with a pick between no. 3 and no. 5. They could send that pick to Minny along with Atlanta’s first-rounder (probably ending up in the 13-to-18 range) and their 2015 Clippers pick for Love. And they could throw in Brandon Bass and Keith Bogans’s immediately waivable deal to make the contracts work. Oh, and if Minnesota were more interested in one or more of those future Brooklyn picks that Boston owns (unprotected in 2016 and 2018, pick swap in 2017), the Celts could discuss that, too. Remember, they have a WAR CHEST of picks: 10 in five years, including Brooklyn’s draft right as they’re entering the “Deron and Joe are old and Brook Lopez wears a suit to every game” phase of the Prokhorov era. You team up Love and Rondo and suddenly it’s 10 times easier to land that third All-Star. (You reading, Carmelo?) And yes, that deal could potentially net the Timberwolves three top-15 picks in a monster draft. Odds of it happening: 3-to-1.
Love recently said Boston is a great city, via to RedsArmy.com.
“Boston is a great city. I’m sure free agents would love to go there, especially with [Brad] Stevens as a coach," he said. "He’s a guy that can win basketball games. He gets guys to play for him. They’ve been having good success there, even in his first year, and he has a lot of young players. The coach has a lot to do with it, but yeah, Boston is a great place.”
Of course, this is all speculation. Time will tell what sticks to the wall, but for now, it's good to be aware of every opinion.