Suns among shoppers as Love market opens up

Kevin Love reportedly has told the Timberwolves that he will not sign an extension to stay in Minnesota.

Jesse Johnson/Jesse Johnson-USA TODAY Sports

It’s long been speculated that the Suns would be interested in getting Kevin Love from the Timberwolves. After all, who wouldn’t want a 25-year-old three-time All-Star who has averaged 19.2 points and 12.2 rebounds a game in his career and is considered one of the best passing big men in the league?

Now, the speculation meter can be dialed up. It was reported Sunday that Love has told the T-wolves that he intends to exercise the opt-out clause in his contract at the end of next season — and would prefer a trade before that point. According to the Associated Press, after months of declining to field trade offers, Timberwolves management has softened its stance, since the alternative seems to be losing Love to free agency next offseason and getting nothing in return.

There’s little question that the Suns would be interested in pursuing a deal, but according to ESPN, Love is most "intrigued" by the Warriors and Bulls, with the Lakers and Knicks also "tempting." ESPN reported that while the Suns covet Love, his interest in playing in Phoenix is "unclear."

That is important because it is assumed that any team that trades for Love would want some assurance that it would be able to keep him for the long term rather than losing him in free agency after a year. If Love’s interest in Phoenix is lukewarm, the Suns presumably would be unlikely to give up significant assets to acquire him.

The Associated Press also reported, based on information from two sources, that the T-Wolves’ asking price likely will include "a high first-round pick in this year’s draft and a solid veteran or two who would come in and contribute right away."

The Suns have three picks in this year’s first round, but none would fall under the "high" designation unless they have some good fortune in Tuesday’s lottery. Unless they luck their way into a top-three pick, they’ll hold he 14th, 18th and 27th selections.

General manager Ryan McDonough said it’s unlikely the team will want to bring in three No. 1 picks for next season, and he could almost certainly be persuaded to give up more than one pick, but that might not be enticement enough for Minnesota. As for solid veterans, the Suns have a number of quality contributors who might be available in a trade and are of some interest around the league.

The Bulls also would be in strong position with the 16th and 19th picks this year, a young superstar in Derrick Rose and a number of enticing players who could be used as trade bait. The Celtics have the fifth pick in the draft but are lacking in impactful veterans, while the Warriors do not have a first-round pick this year.