Though recent reports speculated that the Celtics could offer the Minnesota Timberwolves the most attractive package of players and draft picks for All-Star forward Kevin Love, league sources told the Globe Wednesday that other teams can and are expected to offer more enticing deals.
“They’re not even in the top three,” one league source said of the Celtics.
Furthermore, those sources again stressed that because Timberwolves president Flip Saunders named himself head coach, he is more directly responsible for wins and losses, making it likely he’d prefer proven players over draft picks in a deal.
“They want to win now,” said another league source. “They want to be competitive now, with or without Kevin. These draft picks aren’t going to do that. So if they’re going to move Kevin, they’re going to get two or three guys that can help them win now.”
If that is the case, the Celtics could be at a disadvantage because their biggest trade asset is draft picks. They have as many as 10 first-round picks over the next five years, including the sixth and 17th overall selections in the June 26 draft.
But the Celtics remain confident they can create an enticing offer, even if that means getting creative and acquiring more proven players they could then deal to Minnesota.
As an executive and part owner, Saunders must look long term, too, meaning it’s possible that draft picks — especially the Celtics’ future unprotected first-round picks — will entice him.
Love is expected to opt out of his contract and become an unrestricted free agent next summer. The Timberwolves risk losing him without receiving compensation if they don’t trade him before the February trade deadline.
“The last thing that they want is egg in the face,” a league source said of the Timberwolves.
It’s still unclear, according to league sources, if the Timberwolves have committed to trading Love, but if they are, Golden State and Chicago are considered front-runners, with Denver said to be in the mix.
What separates those teams? The players they could offer Minnesota.
“They want to prove to Kevin that they can win without him,” a league source said
There’s speculation that Golden State could offer a package including shooting guard Klay Thompson and forward David Lee, while Chicago could offer a package including guard Jimmy Butler and forward Taj Gibson.
The Nuggets could offer forward Kenneth Faried and forward Wilson Chandler, league sources said.
League sources said all three of those potential offers would be more enticing than a potential Celtics offer that included Jared Sullinger, Kelly Olynyk, Jeff Green, and multiple first-round draft picks.
“That’s not to say that Boston hasn’t tried or Phoenix hasn’t tried or Cleveland hasn’t tried,” said one league source.
“As much as [Saunders] would look into that being a trade that he’d consider, I just don’t think they’re on the table anymore. He’d rather keep Love and maybe move him later rather than giving him up for a bunch of picks and some so-so players.”
Still, there is expected to be more speculation, posturing and talk of potential deals in the coming days, with the likelihood that talks might not enter heavy negotiations until next week’s draft.