Reports that surfaced over the weekend suggested the Minnesota Timberwolves were opening up to the idea of trading All-Star forward Kevin Love before he walks next year as a free agent, but owner Glen Taylor attempted to quiet the rumor-mill by saying the team won't trade Love "by the draft," reports the Minneapolis Star Tribune.
Furthermore, president Flip Saunders said on WCCO radio Sunday that he hasn't actively pursued trade options. But that's different that Saunders privately deciding it's time to listen to what's out there.
In any case, Minnesota is right to remain cautiously hopeful that Love would change his mind about refusing to remain with the team. Though it's widely-reported that Love told the T-Wolves he won't sign an extension and is set on becoming a free agent next summer, the team still has an important coaching hire to show Love he can win where he is.
All you need is Love
More realistically, the Timberwolves could use the time between now and the June 26 draft to create a massive bidding war for the NBA's biggest trade target. The Houston Rockets, Chicago Bulls, Golden State Warriors, Boston Celtics, Los Angeles Lakers and Phoenix Suns are reportedly interested in trading for Love.
NBA teams aren't allowed to trade consecutive first round picks but could do so on draft day once they have selected a player, as ESPN's Amin Elhassan points out. With teams like the Celtics and Suns potentially ready to deal multiple first-round picks in exchange for Love, Minnesota waiting until after draft picks are made would allow it to trade for a drafted player and another first round pick down the road.
If Love remains on the T-Wolves' roster into the 2014-15 season, teams could withhold their trade proposal expecting Minnesota to bite with desperation on lesser trades as the February trade deadline approaches.
The Timberwolves might lose value in any deal, but getting anything in return avoids misstep of allowing Love to walk for nothing next summer. For now, time is on their side.