Kevin Love just signed a four year contract for $61 millon. So he isn’t to be pitied. However, I’d like to think we can still discuss our misgivings without someone doling out cliched quips regarding men being paid to play a kid’s game. Right?
Our Wolves have recently enjoyed national attention for the captivating play of their stars and not the bumbling ineptitude, which fair or not, has come to be synonymous with this franchise. Yet with the eyes of the basketball world upon us, we’ve managed once again to dampen the forecast of what should be a bright future by slighting our best player.
It can’t be repeated enough. We’ve made it out of the first round just once in our 23 year history. We’ve posted just 32 wins in our last two seasons. We are a small market, cold weather franchise with no prestige and little realistic hopes of championship contention. Kevin Love wanted to stay here anyway. For five years, the maximum allowed. Management offered him four with an option to leave in three. Why?
The answer would seem to be in the doe eyed media darling, Ricky Rubio. As we know, only one five year extension can be offered per team and if it isn’t for Love then we’re left to assume that it currently belongs to Rubio. Now while Kevin is surely happy to have Ricky as a teammate, he must also find this insulting on some level.
Regardless of the complications of his buyout, the fact remains that Rubio was initially hesitant to join us here in Minneapolis. It was clear to anyone who saw him cross that stage on draft night, who listened to his uncomfortable conference call shortly after or read his tepid quotes of freezing weather. Now considering the complications of his buyout, we still had to wait two years for his arrival, whether he was excited to be here or not. In that time, Kevin Love grew from a dubious draft pick into a superstar.
He silently suffered through Kurt Rambis’ mismanagement of his minutes and skillset while watching the losses pile up. He saw potential star teammates go undrafted and every teammate he’d known depart with questionable replacements. He trudged ahead anyway, posting numbers far beyond what we’ve seen or ever considered him capable of. The market couldn’t have paid him more than what he received, but we should have. To reward his loyalty, yet more importantly, to regain credibility and security as a franchise.
We needed to let him and the world know that we valued him as a player in order to attract fans and possibly free agents. Instead, management begrudgingly handed him the option to leave in three years, which if I’m reading correctly, is also when Rubio becomes a restricted free agent.
I’m struggling to understand how this is entirely good news. Sure, in the short term, it is. Kevin Love will be a Wolf next season and the next. But what of the following? Isn’t his future with this team essentially tied to Rubio’s development and decision to stay? Is keeping Rubio ever better than a 50/50 proposition? If one of them decides to leave, won’t we assuredly lose them both? How confident can free agents be in our future knowing how drastically things could change in such a short time? Haven’t we put undue pressure on ourselves to perform better than we ever have? Aren’t you just the slightest bit anxious?
We should be happy. For the next three years, we will undoubtedly be home to some of the league’s most exciting basketball. However, long suffering fans may have trouble shaking the feeling that could very well be when it all falls apart.
Now for those skeptics, here’s something to ease your tension: David Kahn’s contract expires this summer.