While the Celtics and Minnesota Timberwolves have not engaged in any serious trade talks regarding three-time All-Star forward Kevin Love, that hasn’t stopped Love from using this weekend to visit Boston.
Love was seen in Boston Friday hanging out at bars near TD Garden and took a picture with the owner of “The Greatest Bar,” and he also was seen fraternizing with Patriots players. On Saturday, Love walked the streets of the city and took a picture with a thrilled Harvard graduate. A smiling Love was sporting a Team USA Olympic sweater and was holding a beverage cup.
When approached by the Globe at a local hotel, Love said: “I’m sorry man, I can’t do nothing [in terms of talking], I can’t.”
Love, 25, has one year left on his contract and his representatives are believed to have told Minnesota management to facilitate a trade with a club that has championship aspirations. Boston, which is entering Year 2 of a rebuilding plan, would become a playoff contender with the addition of Love, who averaged 26.1 points, 12.5 rebounds, and 4.4 assists last season.
Minnesota is Love’s first NBA team, but the Timberwolves haven’t reached the playoffs in his six seasons and have made a series of questionable draft and free agent decisions, damaging their hopes of retaining Love. It is believed management is not resigned to losing Love and believes it can encourage him to stay with a strong coaching hire, a good draft pick, and help in free agency.
Love told the Globe in an interview during All-Star Weekend that he was intrigued by Boston, impressed with coach Brad Stevens but unfamiliar with the city.
“I’ve never really spent much time in Boston. I don’t know it too well,” he said in February in New Orleans. “But I think as far as playing there, we love competing against those guys. I think they have a great coach and they have a ton of youngsters that are up-and-comers.
“Boston is a great city. I’m sure free agents would love to go there, especially with Stevens as a coach. He’s a guy that can win basketball games. He gets guys to play for him. They’ve been having good success there, even in his first year, and he has a lot of young players. The coach has a lot to do with it, but yeah, Boston is a great place.”
This weekend’s visit by Love is expected to include a trip to the Red Sox-Rays game on Sunday.
The Celtics have the sixth and 17th picks in the June 26 NBA Draft and the club has nine first-round picks over the next five years to offer in trades. But the club is highly unlikely to offer a package for Love unless he intends to sign a long-term extension. The Sacramento Kings, according to Yahoo! Sports, are willing to trade for Love without the condition of him signing an extension.
Timberwolves owner Glen Taylor, who seven years ago demanded general manager Kevin McHale trade Kevin Garnett, who came to the Celtics, said two weeks ago to the St. Paul Pioneer Press that trading Love was “not our plan,” but he stopped short of saying Love was staying put. The owner suggested maybe Love’s trade value may be higher than he would expect.Gary Washburn can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @GwashburnGlobe.