Another team could always jump out of the woodwork, but right now it looks like the Minnesota Timberwolves need the Cleveland Cavaliers.
The Cavs are the clear frontrunner to land Timberwolves big man Kevin Love, as Chicago and Golden State have faded in their pursuit of the 6-foot-10, 260-pound power forward.
At the moment, that leaves only Cleveland, which is offering a package of 2014 No. 1 overall pick Andrew Wiggins, 2013 No. 1 overall selection Anthony Bennett and a future first-round choice. To make the deal work under salary cap regulations, the Cavs would also have to throw in another player.
The 19-year-old Wiggins can’t be traded until Aug. 23 — 30 days after he signed his rookie contract — but the teams can continue to work on a deal in the interim.
ESPN.com reported Wednesday that the Bulls and Warriors are no longer involved in trade talks with the Timberwolves, who will almost certainly lose Love through free agency at the end of the coming season if they don’t trade him.
The Bulls never offered enough to have a serious chance at getting Love and the Warriors remain unwilling to part with sharpshooter Klay Thompson as part of their package. The Boston Celtics also made a brief run at Love, but didn’t have nearly enough assets to be seriously considered.
A third team could be brought into the Cleveland-Minnesota talks, as the Timberwolves are looking to rid themselves of the $4.5 million contract of veteran point guard J.J. Barea. That team could be Philadelphia, as Minnesota is said to be interested in 76ers forward Thaddeus Young.
Love, who doesn’t turn 26 until Sept. 7, is almost certain to opt out of his contract after earning $15.7 million in 2014-15, but he’s made it clear to national reporters that he would re-sign with the Cavs now that LeBron James is on board.
Adding Love, who is held in high regard by four-time league MVP James, would give the Cavs an extremely solid “Big Three” with the inclusion of point guard Kyrie Irving. All are multiple-time NBA All-Stars.
With Dion Waiters at shooting guard and Anderson Varejao at center, plus guys like Tristan Thompson, Mike Miller and Matthew Dellavedova coming off the bench, the Cavs would be a heavy favorite to represent the Eastern Conference in the NBA Finals.
Love, the No. 5 pick in the 2008 draft, averaged 26.1 points, 12.5 rebounds and 4.4 assists last season as the primary offensive option in Minnesota.
The UCLA product’s scoring average would almost certainly go down in Cleveland, but he would be a great fit for new coach David Blatt’s Princeton-style offense. More than a third of Love’s shots last season were 3-pointers — he was 190-of-505 from beyond the arc (.376) — but he’s also capable of scoring inside and via offensive rebounds.
Love recently withdrew from Team USA, which is preparing for the upcoming FIBA World Cup, so there’s little risk of him suffering a serious injury prior to any trade with the Cavs.