NBA Free Agency

Hold me close

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.






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0 thoughts on “Hold me close

  1. They should have given him the Westbrook deal. If they aren’t thrilled with him in 3 years the Knicks, Nets or Mavs will be glad to take his salary off the Wolves’ hands. You think in a league where you can get rid of a gimpy Al Jefferson you can’t trade away a Kevin Love making the same money? The only flexibility the Wolves got here was flexibility for Love to leave. If they wanted to save a few bucks they should have traded the largely superfluous Beasley and used that money to give Love a bigger contract.

  2. You people need to learn more about the new collective bargaining contract agreed upon between the players and owners before you start spouting off about the contract that was just given to KLove. The rules have changed to make it more difficult/expensive for player to leave their current team via feeagency. Therefore any mistake the Wolves make signing their current players will cost them exponentially in the coming years.

  3. Beasley’s contract is up after this year. Trading him does nothing to allow the Timberwolves to offer more money to Love. They gave him the maximum of what they could under the collective bargaining agreement for four years. Does he deserve five? Probably. But as a season-ticket holder for the past eleven years, I’m going to look at how *I* benefit from this deal. The front office is now under real pressure to build a winner NOW. Which means I am going to have a better chance of seeing winning basketball NOW or at least more of an effort towards putting a better product on the court than the past few seasons of taking the “collecting assets” approach. For the money that I’ve spent on my season tickets, I’m pretty excited about that. If the front office screws this up and Love/Rubio/Adelman all jump ship, then I can, too.

  4. I know people want to say the Twolves are idiots once again for not signing KLove to 5 year contract (perhaps we would be idiots if we did as well) but to me this seems like a smart move for all parties. Clearly, this deal gives the Twolves the ability to lock up Rubio or Williams in the future with a designated player contract should they continue to develop as hoped. Correct me if I am wrong, but I also believe Love could opt out after three years and negotiate A LARGER TWO YEAR CONTRACT WITH THE TWOLVES essentially getting his 5 year contract down the road. Didn’t Tim Duncan do that? My take is that Kevin actually backed off the designated player demand (and took on the risk of injury and future monetary losses) in the name of helping the Wolves secure Rubio in the future. Offsetting these risks for Kevin is that he could still earn even more down the road from the Wolves and is helping ensure he can construct a better team around him down the road. As almost every other media outlet has noted it also gives Kevin the ability to jump ship should things not look too rosy 3 years from now but I’m an optimist and believe our future is bright.

  5. If I understand his deal right he can opt out and then get a new four year max deal with the Wolves for bascily more money. So In three years he could surpass Rose and Westbrooks deal. And that also leaves the 5 year max open for Rubio. The team and Kevin have a lot more flexability. It sucks that he may have felt slighted but if the team is winning and the future looks good in three years we may have gotten him locked for seven with Rubio. That sounds like a good future to me.

  6. Kevin didnt back off of the 5 year demand for the sake of the team. He took the only option available in staying with the team. What confuses and slightly perturbs me about the situation is the undue pressure this team has put on themselves to produce at an unprecedented level.

    The fact of the matter is that we’ve been so enthralled with Ricky Rubio’s play that we haven’t stopped to consider how happy he is with us. He is a player who initially was far from overjoyed to be a Wolf and more importantly, is a player who knows his value, considering his looks and style of play. There isnt a team in the league who wont want him in three years and he will pause to consider that. There’s no way for us to know if he actually wants to be here until he signs something. Again.

    But what we can be quite certain of is that Ricky wont want to be here at all if Kevin isnt. As Hollinger pointed out today, when Kevin’s (a southern Cali native & UCLA alum) contract expires in three years, the Lakers will be practically cap free. And if theyve proven anything, they can definitely build a team quickly and steal your talent right out from under you. Why create such unnecessary drama or entice our best player to leave us? For a player we dont even know is worth the five year designation? One that we dont even know if he likes us or not?

    We shouldve taken the bird in the hand, not the two in the bush. It was a bad decision. Lets just hope it doesnt bite us in the ass.

  7. Myles, you are right that he did want the five year deal but signing the 3 year deal doesn’t necessarily mean he wants to jump ship. Rather it could just mean he wants the larger payday via reupping his contract sooner – see Eric’s comment. I truly believe KLovewants to be in MN long term and build a legacy of his own and enjoys the challenge of doing it with an underdog small market franchise (like Durant & Westbrook). KLove values are a far cry from the ones that led Lebron to Miami. Think Tim Duncan.

    With that in mind, by not forcing the issue with the 5 year designation, KLove may have helped his future (unwittingly or not) by allowing the Twolves to entice another top flight free agent to MN with max money. You know guys around the league would love to play with play with Rubio and KLove and perhaps max money would be icing on the cake that could get lure in a top tier guy. If we use the 5yr designation to obtain another piece in the next two years, then suddenly we can realistically talk about competing for a championship. As constructed now we will compete for the playoffs but heaven knows we probably need an athletic SG or SF who can generate his own shot late in games if we want to compete for a championship assuming Beasley/DWill can’t fill that role. Wouldn’t that sort of scenario entice KLove, Rubio & Co to stay around in 3 years?

    In an ideal world (or Miami, LA or NY), we could give KLove max and still attract top FA’s. I am just not sure that is realistic. Signing KLove would also be the safe route for long term respectibility but I feel it reduces our chances for championship success. KG era redux. Our current situation does put some pressure on the organization but I appreciate that they are thinking long term, taking the risk and unless I am giving them too much credit, are going all in.

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