The NBA could block Kevin Love to Cleveland

With a tentative agreement in place between the 76ers, Timberwolves, and Cavaliers, Kevin Love is almost certainly bound for Cleveland in just a week, right? Probably, but the possibility remains that the league may block the trade in the event it is considered a violation to the NBA's collective bargaining agreement. More from Brian Windhorst and Marc Stein:

But sources say that the Cavs and Wolves, knowing that league officials are monitoring this transaction closely, have been careful not to make any public acknowledgements that trade details have already been agreed to. That's because Wiggins remains ineligible to move until 30 days pass from the signing of his rookie contract.

The Cavs were granted permission last month by Minnesota to speak to Love and his representatives in an introductory fashion, sources say, while James and Love have also been in direct contact about their long-term intentions of playing together in recent weeks. But sources insist that no agreement for Love to sign an extension in Cleveland next summer when he can become a free agent is in place.

Under NBA rules, such an agreement would be illegal and, if proven, potentially could be grounds for the league to block this trade and dole out punishment to both teams. The Wolves were infamously sanctioned heavily in 2000 after it was discovered that the club had promised a lucrative future contract--in writing--to Joe Smith, incurring a fine of 3.5 million and the loss of four first-round picks as well as suspensions for owner Glen Taylor and then-GM Kevin McHale.

So, a block of the Kevin Love trade would come as a result of the NBA's mounting suspicion that an illegal agreement for future commitment with Cleveland is in place.

Some in Lakerland and elsewhere are comparing the hypothetical block to the stopping of the Chris Paul trade to the purple and gold late 2011, despite significant differences. It was not blocked simply because "the Lakers are making a super-team!" so the logic, "and now Cleveland is, so they should get blocked too!" is misguided. The New Orleans Hornets were owned by the NBA, and then commissioner David Stern nullified the trade claiming that the Hornets were better off keeping Paul:

...Stern said the "final responsibility for significant management decisions lies with the commissioner's office in consultation with team chairman Jac Sperling.

"All decisions are made on the basis of what is in the best interests of the Hornets," Stern said. "In the case of the trade proposal that was made to the Hornets for Chris Paul, we decided, free from the influence of other NBA owners, that the team was better served with Chris in a Hornets uniform that by the outcome of the terms of that trade."

In the case of Kevin Love, who is under contract with the Minnesota Timberwolves, he can not legally agree to a future deal with Cleveland. While these kinds of talks likely go on around the league in some form or another, the NBA has hardly ever found hard evidence to prove it (though they did in the aforementioned Stein/Windhorst block). Larry Coon provides more detailed information on this at question #31 on his FAQ.

To me, the event that this gets blocked sounds more Stern-esque than Silver-esque (though of course we haven't seen much of Silver's tenure). More likely than not, the trade is permitted by the league. This seems to be more conjecture than smoke, at least at this stage. Stay tuned to CelticsLife, however. It's the NBA--stranger things have happened.