Wizards ‘Stealth Candidate’ For Kevin Love

Kevin Love has a lingering affection for the Wizards, the franchise with which his father spent most of his NBA career, making Washington a “stealth candidate” for the sought-after Timberwolves star, as TNT’s David Aldridge writes in his latest Morning Tip column for NBA.com. The idea of trading Love is reportedly growing on the Wolves, but there’s little chance that Love will follow his dad’s footsteps to Washington, as Aldridge suggests Wolves president of basketball operations Flip Saunders would ask for Bradley Beal in such a swap.

There’s nonetheless a connection between Saunders and Wizards GM Ernie Grunfeld, for whom Saunders worked as Washington’s head coach from 2009 to 2012. The Wizards gave up their first-round pick this year in the Marcin Gortat trade, but they have all their other picks available for future seasons if Saunders showed interest. Still, the Washington roster is devoid of up-and-coming young talent aside from Beal, John Wall and Otto Porter, last year’s No. 3 overall pick who spent most of his rookie season buried on the bench.

The Wizards could eschew the idea of a trade and attempt to mount an effort to sign Love as a free agent next year, when he can opt out of his contract, but that would likely force Washington to let Gortat and Trevor Ariza walk away this summer. The team has roughly $34MM in commitments for 2015/16, not including the nearly $5.7MM team option on Beal for that season, so there’d be no room to accommodate new long-term deals at market price for Ariza and Gortat along with a max contract for Love.

The All-Star power forward’s middle name is Wesley, a nod to Washington Hall-of-Famer Wes Unseld, but Love has his eyes on destinations other than the nation’s capital, with the Warriors, Bulls and Celtics among the latest additions to his wish list. The Lakers have long seemingly been in Love’s sights, and they still reportedly hold plenty of appeal to the former UCLA Bruin.

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