NORMAN — Kevin Love was a doughy, nervous 19-year-old in 2008 when he was drafted by the Minnesota Timberwolves.
Six years later, the three-time All-Star could hear his name called on draft night — again.
College stars and international prospects may not be the only ones taking center stage on Thursday night in New York. Love, one of the best big men in the league, headlines a list of veteran NBA players who could have a major influence on how the draft unfolds.
Love’s contract situation has the Timberwolves contemplating trading him, with teams like Boston, Cleveland, Chicago and Denver among those who could use first-round picks as part of a package to acquire him. Orlando’s Arron Afflalo and Golden State’s Klay Thompson could be on the move as well, while soon-to-be free agents like Toronto’s Kyle Lowry and Phoenix’s Eric Bledsoe could have a say in which direction their current teams go with draft picks.
Many of the trades that occur this time of year don’t happen until teams are on the clock and can gauge what players are available to be drafted. Then they can decide whether they can get enough to part with a proven commodity like Love or Afflalo.
“For the most part, the teammates and the coaches will always, always want the certainty of the player in the locker room,” said Isiah Thomas, a former player, executive and coach and current NBATV analyst. “Management will for the most part look at it from a financial aspect, culture aspect and also the type of player they are getting.”
That’s the conundrum the Wolves face with Love, who can opt out of his contract at the end of next season and has made it clear he plans to go elsewhere. Wolves President Flip Saunders could choose to keep Love and try to make roster moves in an effort to convince him to stay in Minnesota. But if he decides to trade him, Saunders has a couple of options: