Wolves' menu of options for Love

However, there is a middle path available, one the Hornets took with Paul. Love, like Paul in 2011, has an option in his contract for an additional season, for $16.7 million in 2015-16. New Orleans worked with Paul on a trade and destination with the agreement he'd pick up his option as part of the deal, guaranteeing the team that traded for him would have him under contract for two years.

This enhanced Paul's trade value, which was good for the Hornets, and gave Paul leverage with his new team, which was good for him. Paul ended up with the Los Angeles Clippers after a Lakers trade was rejected by Hornets ownership (which at the time was the league's other 29 owners).

Love, who has made it known he wants to play for a contender after missing the playoffs in each of his first six seasons, could make the same deal if the Wolves were willing. There are several potential landing spots for Love because numerous teams have multiple young prospects and draft picks that would be attractive, but not all of those teams are in position to contend next season.

By going this route, Love might also have some say in how a trade would be structured to ensure a team's collection of assets isn't too depleted after a trade. Choosing the destination also could pay off long term because Love's potential new team would inherit his Bird Rights, which would allow for a more lucrative contract down the line.


The Deron Williams/ James Harden plan

If the Wolves decide they want to trade Love, they can attempt to reduce distraction and maximize their leverage by using the auction method the Utah Jazz executed with their 2011 trade of Deron Williams, and one the Oklahoma City Thunder followed in 2012 when they dealt James Harden. Both deals were done in relative stealth, and very quickly, once a decision to trade the star was reached, the Williams deal coming together in less than 24 hours.

According to league executives, the Wolves started to gently probe on some trade ideas this past season that potentially would involve Love. It is likely that somewhere in president Flip Saunders' office, he has a list of trade packages he'd be willing to move Love for.

The draft order being set on Tuesday could be a tipping point where several teams' assets may improve significantly if they can add a top-three pick to their portfolio. Teams who think they can get Love certainly have been plotting their offers for when this market may open.

Saunders then could move quickly, go down his list and begin making offers with a take-it-or-leave-it approach. Each team potentially would get a window to execute a deal, limiting the risk of leaks and maximizing his bargaining position. By creating such a deadline, Saunders may be able to generate some leverage, which he has little of considering Love is under contract for only one more season.

This is how the Thunder operated in 2012 when they moved Harden after he rejected a contract extension offer. General manager Sam Presti had several targets, including discussing rookie Bradley Beal with the Washington Wizards, before moving on to the package offered by the Houston Rockets.

None of this is appetizing for the Wolves. Since this star movement trend started with LeBron James in 2010, there hasn't yet been a team that has truly "won" a trade when coming to grips with moving out a star. All that can be done is manage it, which is the phase the Wolves seem to be moving toward.

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