Flip Saunders denies report Kevin Love has told Wolves he will opt out
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MINNEAPOLIS -- The flurry of rumors that are synonymous with the NBA trade deadline had already started to build around the Minnesota Timberwolves before Wednesday.
All-Star forward Kevin Love's name has come up repeatedly, but there have been strong indications that the Wolves are not looking to deal Love before Thursday's 2 p.m. deadline.
However, longtime NBA columnist Peter Vecsey made waves late Wednesday night when he sent out a series of tweets claiming Love, who is under contract until 2015, is "forcing a premature exit" and should be expected to be traded before the deadline or during the upcoming offseason.
Wolves fans' nightmare has come true, earlier than scheduled. We knew Love'd split ASA eligible '14-15. But now he's forcing premature exit— Peter Vecsey (@PeterVecsey1) February 20, 2014
Prior 2 AS break, KL alerted Flip he'll exercise summer '15 out & sign elsewhere. Expect him 2B moved B4 deadline or off season— Peter Vecsey (@PeterVecsey1) February 20, 2014
Naturally, had Taylor done right thing (owner's call, not DKahn) & given KL 5 yrs vs 4 w/3-yr out, Wolves would've had him thru '16-17— Peter Vecsey (@PeterVecsey1) February 20, 2014
Smart money supports educated speculation circulating KL wants 2 play 4 Lakes. He's comfortable in LA. Played 4 UCLA. Girlfriend's there...— Peter Vecsey (@PeterVecsey1) February 20, 2014
In what was seemingly a direct counter to Vecsey's comments, Wolves president of basketball operations Flip Saudners issued a tweet shortly after, firmly refuting any rumors of a forthcoming trade.
Rumors of Love telling me he's opting out & wants 2 b traded r false. Last convo I had w/ him was him telling me how bad my sports coat was.— Flip Saunders (@Flip_Saunders) February 20, 2014
Vecsey, responding to a number of tweets he received discussing the validity of his intial report, replied, "Flip knows I know."
All of this came on a night in which Love put up an astounding 42 points and 16 rebounds in the Wolves' 104-91 takedown of the Eastern Conference's top team, the Indiana Pacers. It was not only an impressive win, but also a desperately needed one as the Wolves (26-28) attempt to find some way to make a late playoff run.
Earlier on Wednesday, GQ released an article featuring Love talking openly about his NBA future, specifically as it pertains to Minnesota. As tends to be the case, the Los Angeles Lakers were brought up in the conversation. His candid response came as a small sign of hope for the Wolves' fanbase.
"People think it's so far-fetched that I would stay in Minnesota," Love told GQ. "And I'm not (expletive) on the Lakers, but we have the better team, the better foundation. I'm having fun."
Wolves owner Glen Taylor, in an interview with 1500 ESPN.com contributor Darren Wolfson early Wednesday evening, said Love's comments to GQ were "consistent with what he's told me."
Beyond Love, Taylor confirmed the Wolves have been in general trade "communications" with teams, but added that "nothing at the moment" is likely before the deadline.
In regards to the rumors that surround a potential Love trade, Taylor told Wolfson "Flip doesn't even bring (the proposals) to me."