Glen Taylor says his stance on Kevin Love hasn’t changed.
Reality, though, has begun to set in for the Timberwolves owner.
"Between the end of August and October," Taylor said, "we just have to make a final decision."
Once rigid against the idea of his superstar power forward being anywhere but the team’s new Mayo Clinic Square training facility when training camp opens Oct. 1, Taylor told FOXSportsNorth.com on Monday he anticipates Love being dealt by then. If the reported Love-to-Cleveland exchange for Andrew Wiggins and fellow No. 1 overall pick Anthony Bennett goes through, it could happen much sooner.
"(My opinion) hasn’t changed in the sense that we’ve told (Love) if we don’t see a trade that helps our team, he’s gonna go on and he’ll come into camp and he’ll do it," Taylor said when reached by phone Monday, "but on the other hand … he said his preference was he reports to another team and doesn’t have to come in here. We’re taking that seriously and trying to look at alternatives."
Taylor said Love’s agent, Jeff Schwartz, reiterated to the team during recent discussions that Love indeed plans to opt out of the final year on his contract if he’s not traded before next summer. That’s been the sense since the end of the season, when a disgruntled Love — who publicly expressed his discontent at not receiving a max extension in 2012 — missed the playoffs a sixth straight year. Shortly after, reports leaked he’d told the Wolves he wanted out.
Taylor said that notion wasn’t confirmed in his mind until the sides talked late last month, when Love pulled out of training with USA Basketball for this year’s FIBA World Cup.
With Wiggins on the table, Cleveland appears the frontrunner to land Love’s services. But the two sides can’t execute a deal until Aug. 23. A rare NBA trade stipulation prohibits it for 30 days after players sign their rookie contracts; Wiggins inked his July 24.
Taylor, though, says president and coach Flip Saunders won’t shut the door on other proposals. Every team has contacted them about Love, including enticing offers from Golden State — who dropped out of the Love sweepstakes when it refused to include Klay Thompson in a deal — and Chicago, among others.
That’s somewhat contrary to a recent ESPN report saying the Wolves were dealing only with Cleveland and that a Wiggins-Love trade was a matter of "when," not "if."
"We won’t do a deal until that date," Taylor said in reference to Aug. 23, a Saturday, "but we may not necessarily do it at that date. I’d assume between there and Oct. 1, but that’s earliest. I think we’ll have all the information we need by that date, so it could happen then. I would rather say it probably won’t happen before then, because we want all of our options in front of us.
"We know that other teams, they still call up and they may change their position on something and it may be better for us. We have to keep our minds open."
If Taylor had his dream fulfilled, Love would report Oct. 1 and see an improved, more athletic team under Saunders’ direction that convinces him to stick around another year. If for some reason an offseason trade doesn’t get done, Taylor doesn’t expect Love to hold out of camp or take any other extreme measures, he said.
"They haven’t really threatened or anything like that," Taylor said. "Kevin says ‘well, I want to get on a winning team and would appreciate it if you would trade me.’ My answer to him is ‘stay here, we’ll get a winning team, and you’ll have everything you want.’"
International discontent: With Paul George likely out for a year after his horrific leg injury in Saturday night’s USA Basketball scrimmage and Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban clamoring once again for the NBA to cut ties with FIBA and international play, Taylor said he understands both sides of the issue.
A bevy of international players have come through the Target Center doors since Taylor bought the team in 1995, so he understands the what it means for athletes of different nationalities to represent their countries, he said. But he’s not about to call out Cuban and other owners for their opposite viewpoints.
Just imagine if Love had sustained a similar injury in the midst of trade talks, Taylor pointed out. That’s why Love wasn’t in Las Vegas last week in the first place.
"I’ve been one that says I think we should let our players play if they want to play," said Taylor, currently the acting chairman of the NBA board of governors. "I’ve been more along that line, but I don’t want to argue with those who have proposed exactly what could happen to George could happen to their team. It’s just a — I don’t know if the word is disaster — but certainly a major setback to have your star player injured and possibly out the whole year."