The Cleveland Cavaliers are reportedly the front-runners in a potential trade for Love, but there are several different rumors around the talented player and what it would take to make a deal work with Minnesota.
Here is the latest trade chatter surrounding Love.
Kevin Love’s Contract Option
One of the biggest X-factors in the reported trade for Love has been his contract. With the player option to become a free agent during the 2015 offseason, Cleveland or any other team looking to acquire Love must contend with the possibility of him leaving after only one season.
The Cavaliers are in win-now mode after signing James, and adding Love to a roster that already includes Kyrie Irving as well would make them serious contenders in the East. The team’s hope is that winning will encourage Love to re-sign.
According to Terry Pluto of The Plain Dealer, Love plans on exercising his option and becoming a free agent in 2015:
6. I'm hearing Love will not pick up his option -- that he would prefer to go to the Cavs on his current deal, then presumably enjoy being successful playing with LeBron James. Remember, he also has done a commercial with Kyrie Irving. He sees marketing possibilities in Cleveland -- along with a chance to win big.
7. I'm hearing the Cavs realize they may have to accept Love's current deal and gamble on him enjoying playing in Cleveland and with James. Then they will try to sign him for a maximum deal in 2015. So don't be shocked if a deal is made with his contract situation staying the same.
This news is not terrible for Cavaliers fans. Even if Love comes to Cleveland and opts out of the deal, it would give the franchise the opportunity to sign him to a max contract. If he opts into his current deal, the most he could sign would be a two-year extension.
James and Irving are a formidable duo, but they need another piece—especially in the paint—to be a viable contender this season. Taking the educated risk with Love’s contract is something the franchise must do in order to ensure James stays with the team long term.
Love will be a force down low for the Cavaliers. After averaging 26.1 points and 12.5 rebounds per game in 2013, the forward should expect a huge bump in numbers if he were to play on the same team with James and Irving.
Latest on Andrew Wiggins
Cleveland selected Kansas small forward Andrew Wiggins No. 1 overall in the 2014 NBA draft, but the team is already reportedly looking to move him in a potential trade for Love.
ESPN’s Marc Stein has the latest developments regarding Wiggins’ involvement in the rumored deal for Love:
There are few experts who question the notion that Wiggins could be a game-changer in the NBA, but he needs time to develop. James is looking to win championships and returned to the Cavaliers with titles on his mind.
Wiggins may be great in the future, but Love is great now.
Minnesota will be looking for the best possible offer for Love with no particular allegiance to Cleveland—the Chicago Bulls have also made a substantial offer—but a package highlighted by Wiggins offers the Timberwolves a star of the future.
There is a risk associated with trading away a top prospect for an impending free agent, but the Cavaliers are in a unique position and must go all-in on the 2014-15 season.
New York Knicks Getting Involved?
With Cleveland and Chicago getting involved in the trade talks for Love, Phil Jackson and the New York Knicks decided to make an offer of their own.
According to Chris Herring of The Wall Street Journal, New York attempted to make a trade that didn’t stand a chance against the reported compensation from the Cavaliers and Bulls:
The Knicks recently attempted to make a trade for Minnesota Timberwolves star Kevin Love, offering forward Amar'e Stoudemire and his enormous expiring contract, second-year guard Tim Hardaway, Jr. and swingman Iman Shumpert, according to a person with knowledge of the situation.
But the long-shot offer, made in the past week, was declined and never stood much of a chance, particularly because the Timberwolves could potentially strike a richer deal with the Cleveland Cavaliers involving No. 1 overall pick Andrew Wiggins. The Chicago Bulls, who have a bevy of intriguing assets to trade, have reportedly had conversations with Minnesota about Love in recent weeks since failing to sign Knicks star Carmelo Anthony in free agency.
My first question was: Why make this offer?
Chicago could be making a bid to snag Love with its substantial offer, or the franchise could just be driving the asking price up for him. Either way, the Bulls are viable threats to impact the eventual destination and cost involved with the trade.
The Knicks did nothing but offer a low-ball deal that never had a chance of coming to fruition. Is this a case of the Zen Master overthinking the situation or the team making a standard offer for the big names on the block?
The hope is that the latter is the case and the Knicks were just not comfortable adding anymore pieces to the deal. Watching Jackson with the Bulls and Los Angeles Lakers over the years, though, gives fans the feeling that there is something much deeper here.
If Love hits free agency in 2015, expect New York to be major players. Hey, the team tried to trade for him, remember?
*Stats via NBA.com.