Kevin Love has had enough of losing. He wants out, and he's given Minnesota a list of teams to be traded to. According to ESPN, Chicago makes the list.
Although sources say Love has stopped short of demanding a trade, his position could effectively force the Timberwolves to deal the All-Star forward before next season -- or before the trade deadline in February 2015 at the latest -- if they hope to dodge the risk of losing him without compensation.
It's important to note that Love isn't demanding a trade just yet. He is demanding a winning situation. Minnesota isn't likely to deal him prior to the trade deadline for that reason. They'll look at the LaMarcus Aldridge situation in Portland and think just like Portland they might be in position to take that big jump next season.
This is especially true if they can get a miracle tomorrow night and land a top three pick or if they find a high quality player with their later selection. Either way, since Love doesn't seem averse to staying in Minnesota if they can win and Minnesota isn't so far off winning, they'll almost certainly wait until the deadline.
If they do so, the Bulls would need to keep Carlos Boozer around to be in the bidding war for Love just so they can match salaries. This is why I said amnestying Boozer isn't a definite this off-season. While he was crap on a stick most of last season, he's not totally worthless on the court (ie, if he played 10-15 minutes as your third big man off the bench you could live with him), and he might open up more flexibility at the deadline.
Two sources told the AP that the likely asking price would include a high first-round pick in this year's draft and a veteran or two who could bring immediate leadership to a team that lacks it.
Sources told ESPN.com that the Golden State Warriors and Chicago Bulls are among the potential trade destinations that intrigue Love.
Looking at what the Wolves want and the Bulls have, a match doesn't seem to make much sense though. Chicago won't have a high pick to offer, and they might not have much veteran talent they'd be willing to move either. Possibly Taj Gibson along with Carlos Boozer in a salary matching scenario.
However, if it gets to the deadline, and Minnesota is doing poorly, then they'll probably be in the 10c on the dollar market for Love. The teams he's willing to extend with won't likely have the packages or the desire to give up what Minnesota wants. If Minnesota waits and chances on extending Love then their odds of getting full value back if they fail to do so go down dramatically.
The Lakers would seem to have the best shot at an offer if Love is willing to be patient, because they can likely offer a top six pick (lottery results pending) for Love along without sending any bad salary back. Love has always favored LA, but that's not really a winning situation right now, so it's a leap of faith for him.
After the Dwight Howard fiasco, it's unlikely LA trades for Love without an extension in place. Would Love roll the dice on LA becoming a contender with Kobe on the verge of retirement and coming back from a couple of long term injuries at his age? Who knows.
Should the Bulls want Love at the max?
Kevin Love's awesome, but for a player with a 25+ PER, he doesn't seem to impact winning all that much. He's not a force on defense nor is he an elite athlete. Of course, both of those criticism also apply to Carmelo Anthony, and we have no qualms about adding him.
I'm not sure that Love is as much of a natural scorer as Anthony, but I think his fit along side a healthy Rose is certainly much better, and he'd fit very well next to Joakim Noah as well. I like the look and feel of the team with Kevin Love on it in terms of chemistry of the players.
He doesn't demand the ball as much as Anthony, and he spaces the floor really well by providing three point shooting from the four spot which the Bulls could really use given that their wing players aren't great shooters.
That said, is Kevin Love a 20+ million per year player? I'm not so sure about that, but that's what it will take to get him on top of giving up a bunch of other assets. It makes me a little queasy to give up multiple picks/players in order to get a guy whom is paid at the high end of his value, but much like Anthony, if it can be done, it should be done.
Boozer + Mirotic + 2 1sts for Love this off-season and I'm a happy camper. Is that enough to get the deal done? Probably not. My guess is Minnesota waits to the deadline and risks a much smaller return in order to have a chance of keeping him.