MINNEAPOLIS - Need further evidence that social networking has changed everything when it comes to the sports news cycle? We present Flip Saunders' Twitter takedown on Wednesday evening.
In response to a tweet from Hall of Fame sports columnist Peter Vecsey in which he indicated that Minnesota Timberwolves forward Kevin Love told the team before the All-Star break that he would opt out of his contract in the summer of 2015 and sign with another team, the T-Wolves' president of basketball operations countered with a tweet of his own.
"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."
In case Saunders' stance wasn't clear enough, a person with knowledge of the Timberwolves' strategy insisted late Wednesday night that their three-time All-Star would not be traded before the 3 p.m. Eastern deadline on Thursday. The person spoke on the condition of anonymity because of the private nature of the situation.
The premise in play here, of course, is that Love is likely headed elsewhere eventually (widely believed to be the Los Angeles Lakers) and some executives believe Saunders is better suited trading him now rather than waiting to do it later or risk losing him later for nothing. Instead, it appears they've continued exploring trade options to improve the supporting cast around him and will apparently hold out hope – at least for now – that he can still be won over. Winning, of course, is the easiest way to do just that.
Yet despite their impressive win vs. the Indiana Pacers Wednesday, Minnesota (26-28) has lost six of its past nine games and is 5 ½ games out of the eighth and final playoff spot in the Western Conference. The T-Wolves failed to make the playoffs in each of Love's first five seasons.
Love's latest comments on the matter were more than enough to throw the dogs off his trail, as he told GQ magazine, "People think it's so far-fetched that I would stay in Minnesota. And I'm not (expletive) on the Lakers, but we have the better team, the better foundation. I'm having fun."
How much fun he has from here until the summer of 2015, meanwhile, will dictate how long he stays.
- While the Oklahoma City Thunder have been tied to trade talks for Milwaukee Bucks guard Gary Neal in numerous reports, a person with knowledge of the Thunder's thinking said they do not have interest. The person spoke to USA TODAY Sports on the condition of anonymity because of the private nature of trade talks.
- On the Phoenix Suns front, they were not close to any deals as of late Wednesday night. According to a person with knowledge of their situation, it's possible that the Suns (32-21) ignore all of our claims that they'd be among the most active teams at the deadline and wind up standing pat. Or, of course, they could be among the most active teams at the deadline.
It's clear that the Suns are still looking for a high-level player to upgrade their already-surprising operation, but they also see value in not disrupting the team in the middle of the season. Exhibit A on that front: the fact that Phoenix did four trades last summer, thereby establishing the roster long before the season began while netting two 2014 first round draft picks. Assets like those are the very reason the Suns are in a position of strength to begin with, but we shall see which direction this goes.