Jun 2 2014, 12:17am CDT | by Poch de la Rosa
"Timberwolves president of basketball operations Flip Saunders said Sunday that not only does he expect All-Star forward Kevin Love back next season but also that he would meet with team owner Glen Taylor this week to talk about the coaching search.
"Saunders jumped at the chance to address speculation about Love's future and the Wolves' coaching search after he conducted Sunday's predraft workout at the Target Center.
"It was Saunders' first public comments since a New York Daily News report quoted Love's representatives as saying he would exercise his opt-out clause and pursue free agency after next season."
Fuller spoke with Saunders, who said he fully expects Love to still don a Timberwolves jersey next season.
"'My position hasn't changed,' Saunders said. 'Last I knew, Kevin was under contract with us. And I expect him to be playing for us next year. I don't really dictate where guys go on vacation. They can go wherever they want to go.'
"Saunders did admit that 'there was a feeding frenzy out there with a lot of teams' interested in a trade for Love.
"'I plan on Kevin being here,' he said. 'Anybody can be traded. But I really believe anyone looking into that, those are pipe dreams. It has no bearing on where anyone's at on what's happening. Because no one has any idea what's going on.'
"Wolves general manager Milt Newton said Thursday that the team's relationship with Love is unchanged but that they will 'do what's best for the organization' regarding the three-time All-Star forward.
"Newton also said that the process of a trade talks was not 'hot and heavy' right now but that it could get to that point during and after the NBA Draft on June 26."
"The Minnesota Timberwolves All-Star forward had arrived in Boston for the weekend to check out the city, a sightseeing visit that sent Celtics fans into a frenzy about the possibility that Love will join the team -- perhaps this summer.
"In what has become known as the 'Summer of Love,' many teams are focused on acquiring Love through a trade -- and league sources say that includes the Celtics, who can offer an array of assets, namely draft picks. They have as many as 17 picks over the next five years, including 10 in the first round."
"Love, who averaged 26.1 points and 12.5 rebounds per game last season, learned Celtics history at an early age, as one of his favorite tapes growing up was a VHS copy of 'Winning Basketball' with Larry Bird and Red Auerbach.
"And of his youth, Love once told Sports Illustrated in an interview,'My dad likes to say when other kids were watching Big Bird, I was watching Larry Bird, and he was totally right.'
"Fairweather, a former ESPN producer and radio co-host, found Love to be so interested in Celtics history that he gave him a 90-minute DVD that details the team's illustrious past, a gift Fairweather said Love very much appreciated.
"Love showed such reverence for Bird, Fairweather said, that at one point Love pointed out how he believes that Bird's No. 33 ought to be retired by every team in the NBA. Love also said he planned on talking to fellow UCLA alumnus Bill Walton about what it was like playing for the Celtics.
"Fairweather said he told Love that he could be the Celtics' Tom Brady, a reference to the (New England) Patriots' star quarterback.
"'You could be a rock star here,' Fairweather said he told him."
As for Minnesota's new coach, the Timberwolves' official website says Saunders plans to meet with owner Glen Taylor some time this week to discuss this with him. The team has been without a coach since Rick Adelman retired on April 21.
"As far as who might become the Timberwolves' next coach, Saunders said he and the front office are being selective in which candidates they'll decide to pursue. It's not a question of whether or not they can fill this position -- the NBA is an exclusive group of 30 teams, and a lot of people want a shot at being a head coach in this league.
"The challenge is finding someone who fits what the Wolves are looking for, and Saunders has been steadfast in bringing in someone with coaching experience that can do a combination of things: Continue the Wolves' offensive fire power, and accountability in the locker room and, ideally, improve the team's efforts on the defensive end."
Poch de la Rosa
Poch de la Rosa follows all major U.S. sports: NFL, MLB, NBA, NHL and the NCAA. His favorite teams are the Colts, Braves, Pacers, Sharks and Irish, respectively.
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