May 18, 2014, 12:30 PM EST
Kevin Love will be one of the top available free agents on the market after next season, unless of course the Timberwolves decide to trade him before then in a preemptive move to ensure they receive something in return, rather than allowing their franchise player to leave without compensation.
While he hasn’t come out and demanded to be traded, perhaps due to being careful not to allow his image to take a hit the way other stars like Dwight Howard did in similar situations, Love does reportedly have preferred destinations should the Timberwolves decide a deal is in their best interest.
Sources told ESPN.com that the Golden State Warriors and Chicago Bulls are among the potential trade destinations that intrigue Love.
The Los Angeles Lakers and New York Knicks have likewise been mentioned all season as big-market landing spots that would tempt Love, but going to the best situation for immediate contention is said to be the power forward’s priority.
Sources say that the Phoenix Suns, armed with several draft assets to offer Minnesota, also have strong interest in trading for Love, but the 25-year-old’s interest in joining the Suns is unclear.
The combination of a large market and a situation that’s immediately conducive to winning is what seems to appeal to Love the most.
Any trade would hinge on Love’s prior agreement to sign a max contract to stay in his new situation, or at the very least, any trade involving a team willing to give up substantial assets in exchange for Love’s services would require that commitment. A club could of course deal for Love in hopes he would re-sign long-term the way the Lakers did with Howard a couple of seasons ago, but the offer would be diminished without Love’s assurances.
Once the draft order has been settled following Tuesday’s lottery, there will more clarity in terms of which teams have the best combinations of picks and players to offer. The Timberwolves haven’t yet committed to trading Love; their preference is to convince him to stay. But it appears as though at this stage of the proceedings, when other teams inquire about Love’s availability, Minnesota has no choice but to listen.
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