The summer of LeBron has quickly turned into the summer of Love. When it ends is anybody’s guess.
The Minnesota Timberwolves are weighing their options when it comes to trading All-Star Kevin Love, with the Cleveland Cavaliers and Chicago Bulls both trying to land the versatile forward. But any talks are complicated by an NBA rule that requires a 30-day waiting period to trade any rookie that signs his contract.
Talks have picked up again this week, with the Cavaliers coming off of their long-held resistance to including No. 1 overall draft Andrew Wiggins in an offer and making a trade with Utah on Tuesday to help make an acquisition easier to pull off.
Just as the Cavs appeared to be closing in on grabbing Love to pair with LeBron James and Kyrie Irving in a new-look “Big 3” in Cleveland, the Bulls appear to be making one last run to try to wrestle him away from their Eastern Conference competitors.
The Bulls reached out to the Timberwolves again Wednesday, according to a person with knowledge of the discussions who requested anonymity because the teams were not publicly commenting on the process. But it remained unclear just how far they are willing to go to try to turn Minnesota’s attention away from Cleveland.
The Timberwolves were big fans of Bulls rookie Doug McDermott in the pre-draft process, but he landed in Chicago on a draft-night deal with Denver. McDermott shined at the Las Vegas Summer League, showing a versatile and NBA-ready offensive game, and after missing out on Carmelo Anthony in free agency.
That would make it difficult for the Bulls, who need all the offensive help they can get, to part with him.
In coveting Wiggins and McDermott, the Wolves have the same obstacle with both teams. McDermott signed his contract on Tuesday and Wiggins was expected to sign his contract later this week. That means no potential deal involving either of those two players could be officially executed for 30 days after the signing.
That’s a lifetime in the NBA.
Teams could agree in principle to trades before the period ends, but waiting around for the deadline to pass and for the ink to dry figures to be tense. Thirty days gives everyone involved in the deal a lot of time to think, and other teams to see the agreement and make renewed pushes for Love, one of the best power forwards in the game.
The Timberwolves have already made it clear that that the only way the Cavs get Love, who is scheduled to report for Team USA training camp in Las Vegas next week, is if they include Wiggins in the deal. A package with Wiggins, former No. 1 pick Anthony Bennett and a future first-round draft pick would likely force Wolves president and coach Flip Saunders to endure a more drastic rebuild than he initially had hoped for when trading the face of his franchise.
The Wolves are also considering involving a third team in the deal to both unload contacts like J.J. Barea and bring another veteran in at power forward to help fill Love’s sizable shoes. Kevin Martin was another player thought to be included in trade talks, but the Timberwolves would likely need his offense and his experience on a young team if a deal with the Cavaliers is completed.
There are also financial implications to consider. Until Wiggins is officially under contract, he holds no monetary value in any deal and the Cavs must clear salary in order to take on Love’s contract. Wiggins’ contract will be worth $5.5 million next season, which gets the Cavs much further down the road to matching Love’s salary.
The longer the trade takes to get finalized, the greater the risk it could fall apart. The Timberwolves are already leery of parting with their franchise player and anything that drags negotiations out could hinder Cleveland’s chances of landing Love.
Excited fans are on the edge of their seats waiting for a resolution that likely isn’t coming anytime soon.
The 30-day moratorium also prevents the teams from publicly acknowledging any agreement, meaning the rumor-filled summer of Love is likely to drag on.
Updated July 23, 2014