Risking losing Love via free agency and getting nothing for him in return, the Timberwolves may now be motivated to move love this offseason or prior to the NBA’s February 2015 trade deadline. In the coming weeks, once the league establishes its lottery order, the Love trade rumors should increase drastically. Even with one of the best draft classes in years coming out in June, the chance to pick up a franchise player like Love is unique.According to ESPN Love has the Golden State Warriors and Chicago Bulls at the top of his lists as potential destinations, due to the ability of the two clubs to contend immediately. Golden State has a young and talented backcourt in Stephon Curry and Klay Thompson, while the Bulls should be contenders once Derrick Rose returns from his latest injury. Phoenix, who had a strong season in 2013-2014, and has several assets to move for Love may be another option. A Golden State deal could include David Lee and Harrison Barnes, two assets the Lakers simply don’t have.
It’s unclear where the Lakers stand in the potential Love sweepstakes. Although Los Angeles would be well positioned to attract Love in free agency due to their salary cap freedom after next season, the Lakers likely won’t be contenders in the upcoming season. The Lakers also don’t have a head coach yet, a big factor when free agents look at options.
Of course the biggest concern in trading for Love prior to free agency is the ability to sign Love to a long-term deal after next season. If the Lakers can somehow pull a package together that is attractive to Minnesota, they would be in a position to sign Love. The concern would be whether or not Love sees Los Angeles as a potential contender. Who the Lakers hire as their next head coach and who they get in the upcoming draft will be a major factor. If the Lakers end up toward the top of the lottery and are able to select an impact player, they’ll have another building block that may attract Love, to go with their cap space and ability to sign another potential max free agent.The other big question is whether or not Love is worth max free agent dollars. He’s a uniquely talented big man who puts huge offensive numbers up, but his play has not translated to wins in Minnesota. Last season the Timberwolves were healthy and had a solid core of talent around Love, as well as a respected head coach in Rick Adelman. Last season the Timberwolves were a .500 basketball team, and have been under .500 for all of Love’s career. Love is a tremendous rebounder and scorer but is not an impact player on the defensive end. The perception of many around the NBA is that he is a very capable player, but not the best player on a championship team. Love would improve the Lakers, but they would likely need to add another star to play alongside Love to truly return to championship status. Chris M