Update 12:41 p.m. EST
Love added to trade speculation on Saturday when he informed USA Basketball that he will not play for the national team this summer at the FIBA Basketball World Cup, according to Associated Press.
Kevin Love is pulling out of Team USA because of uncertainty surrounding his status with Wolves.
â€” Jon Krawczynski (@APkrawczynski) July 26, 2014
USA Basketball manager director Jerry Colangelo confirmed the report as well.
“The fact is, we can only look to the players we have available. Our job is to get the job done with our very, very deep roster, and we’re anxious to get things started,” said Colangelo.
Kevin Love has reportedly narrowed down his choices, and only wants to play with LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers.
After weeks of speculation and teams like the Golden State Warriors, Chicago Bulls and Boston Celtics angling for a deal, the 25-year-old Minnesota Timberwolves forward reportedly “relayed his desire” to play with the Cavs, according to Fox Sports Ohio.
Though Love and his agent Jeff Schwartz have not made a formal request to Minnesota, it’s believed such a request would give Cleveland far more leverage in negotiations, and the team wouldn’t have to surrender nearly as much.
The Cavs and Timberwolves have talked over a trade that would send Love to Cleveland in exchange for No. 1 pick Andrew Wiggins and last year’s top selection Anthony Bennett. However the Cavs have hesitated on including Wiggins, a prospect who could be a superstar one day. Minnesota is insisting on Wiggins being part of any deal, and Cleveland will want Love to sign a contract extension to facilitate a sign-and-trade and to keep him from becoming an unrestricted free agent next summer.
Cleveland signed Wiggins to his rookie contract earlier this week, and per league rules he cannot be traded for the next 30 days. It’s a slight complication for both Cleveland and Minnesota, and would leave the door open for Golden State, Boston or Chicago to swoop in and trump the Cavs offer, but Love’s apparent insistence of teaming up with James changes everything.
James has reached out to Love and reportedly said he wants to team up in Cleveland. It’s believed that the pair, along with point guard Kyrie Irving, could compete for a championship in the weaker Eastern Conference. Love’s repertoire of stellar rebounding and long-range shooting, as well as his deft passing abilities, should complement James’s all-around play and Irving as a playmaker.
Chicago, which signed its first-round pick Doug McDermott earlier this week as well, was reportedly offering the rookie along with recent international signing Nikola Mirotic and veteran forward Taj Gibson. It’s a solid package, but like Cleveland, the Bulls can’t trade McDermott or Mirotic for the next 30 days.
The Warriors came close to a deal with Love before the draft last month, but talks abruptly stopped when they decided not to part with guard Klay Thompson. In that proposed trade, Thompson and forward David Lee would be the centerpieces with Love and guard Kevin Martin heading to the Bay Area.
Loaded with draft picks but short on tangible prospects, the Celtics have been tied to a trade for Love for months. But other than picks and soon-to-be-free-agent point guard Rajon Rondo, who’s still recovering from a serious knee injury, Boston has very little to trade Minnesota unless a third team gets involved.
Timberwolves team president and second-time-around head coach Flip Saunders, as well as team owner Glen Taylor, have said publicly that they would like to keep Love. Though, Taylor did say recently that the team won’t be forced into a lopsided trade.