According to rumors breaking over the weekend, All-Star forward Kevin Love wants to leave the Minnesota Timberwolves.
The high-scoring, high-rebounding big man has been on the fringe of many free agency radars as his contract has just one year left to run.
He reportedly wants to leave Minnesota as soon as possible after yet another season with no playoff basketball. The Timberwolves have missed the postseason in all six seasons of Love’s professional career.
The decision puts the Wolves in the uncomfortable position of having to decide whether to risk keeping love and allowing him to leave as a free agent after next season, or finding a trade partner who can offer something in return but giving up all hope of him changing his mind.
There are a handful of teams with the right blend of young players, draft picks and expiring contracts who would love the chance to add a top-10 player to their roster.
The following is a breakdown of which teams are in the running with our own entirely unscientific grades of their chances to land the power forward.
Fit for Love: A, Trade package: B+
The Bulls have been seeking a second star to pair with Derrick Rose since they struck out in the summer of 2010. Now that Joakim Noah has flourished into one of the top players in the league and is a defensive stud, the Bulls need to add scoring, most importantly a player who can create his own offense.
Chicago has the best package deal to offer Minnesota that does not include a high lottery pick. They currently have the #16 and #19 picks in the draft as well as a handful of picks in the second round of this year’s and next year’s draft.
The Bulls can also dangle a combination of developing difference-maker Jimmy Butler, defensive monster Taj Gibson and Carlos Boozer’s large expiring contract. Chicago also has Euroleague MVP Nikola Mirotic stashed in Spain awaiting contract negotiations.
Fit for Love: B-, Trade package: A-
The Celtics have one of the strongest pick-based packages of any potential suitors for Love.
Boston has a high lottery pick, the exact position of which will be determined in Tuesday evening’s annual NBA Draft Lottery. Should the pick fall in the top four, the Celtics will be an incredibly enticing trade partner for the Wolves with such a loaded draft looming.
The drawback to Boston for Love is that he has repeatedly made clear that he wants to move to a team where he can compete immediately for a championship, not be part of what would be an ongoing rebuilding project in Boston.
Fit for Love: A, Trade package: B
The Houston Rockets must be considered an outside bet to land Kevin Love, but could offer a mixture of future draft picks and established players like Jeremy Lin, Omer Asik, Chandler Parsons and Terrence Jones.
Houston would present the most talented destination with a pair of All-Stars in James Harden and Dwight Howard.
Golden State Warriors
Fit for Love: B, Trade Package C
The Warriors have been touted as a team that interests Love, however they seem to lack the necessary trade bait to lure the Timberwolves into making a trade.
The Dubs could offer Klay Thompson or David Lee. They also have Harrison Barnes, though his lacklustre 2014 season has depressed his stock.
Los Angeles Lakers
Fit for Love: B-, Trade Package: C
The Lakers, as always, are interested in landing another star to pair with Kobe Bryant. Los Angeles is the biggest market outside of New York City and the Lakers have an unparalleled TV deal with Time Warner Cable.
The big issue for the Lakers regarding a potential Love trade is their lack of assets. They do own a lottery pick, the position determined by the lottery on Tuesday, which could be very high. However, they have very few players under contract for next season, meaning any trade would be difficult to conjure from a threadbare and rather poor roster.
New York Knicks
Fit for Love: C+, Trade Package: D
The Knicks have been mentioned as a potential destination, but they do not have a tradable first-round pick for several seasons and, outside of Carmelo Anthony and possibly Tyson Chandler, do not have any valuable assets they would be willing to part with.
Fit for Love: B+, Trade Package: B+
The Suns are the final team in the running, but are also outsiders due to history working against them.
Phoenix has a cache of draft picks spread over several seasons and also has one of the best young rosters in the league. They could part with the likes of Eric Bledsoe or Goran Dragic as deal sweeteners.
Working against Phoenix is it’s history of being unable to lure free agents to the city.