Timberwolves re-sign their best player. How… dare… they…?
There were seven scenarios that could have played out with this Kevin Love contract extension apocalypse:
1. Kevin Love becomes the Wolves’ designated player, earning an extensions worth roughly $78 million over five years.
2. Kevin Love agrees to a four-year extension worth roughly $61 million.
3. Kevin Love agrees to a four-year extension worth roughly $61 million that includes an opt-out clause after three years.
4. Kevin Love waits until this summer to deal with his contract and accepts a max offer from the Wolves.
5. Kevin Love waits until this summer to deal with his contract, becomes a restricted free agent, signs with another team and the Wolves match the deal to retain his employment.
6. Kevin Loves accepts the qualifying offer of around $6.1 million this off-season, plays out next year as a T’Pup, and re-signs with the team after becoming an unrestricted free agent in 2013.
7. Kevin Loves accepts the qualifying offer of around $6.1 million this off-season, plays out next year as a T’Pup, and then leaves to sign with another team as an unrestricted free agent as we all curl up into the fetal position and mutter to ourselves, “there’s no place like Rasho… there’s no place like Rasho…”
Kevin Love and the Timberwolves opted with option #3. Is it the best option on the board? We have no idea and that’s why everybody seems to be freaking out about it. It leaves a certain level of uncertainty that we just can’t handle in this day of impatience.
What if Kevin Love leaves in three years? Then won’t Ricky Rubio decide to bolt at the same time? Won’t Rick Adelman leave us? Will we be stuck with the next Randy Wittman attempting to murder the joy of basketball we’re feeling right now? Are the Wolves rebuilding in 2015? Should I be scouting sophomores in college? What if the Mayans are right?!
Everybody needs to calm down a bit. The Minnesota Timberwolves re-signed the best player they’ve had since Kevin Garnett was prowling the hardwood and I’m supposed to be upset with this news? I don’t really understand how option #3 is a bad thing for this organization moving forward.
Now, I’m not defending what the organization did here. I think once again David Kahn and Glen Taylor bungled a personnel decision in some way. They sort of disrespected their best player who wanted to commit to them in a way that rewarded both his value and loyalty to this organization. It’s possible that Kevin Love feels sort of betrayed that they are probably keeping their 5-year designated player contract for someone who isn’t the best player on the team. It’s also possible Kevin Love is too busy taking pictures of his teammates being cooked in a stew by Carl Weathers to really care about this armchair psychologist role we all love to play.
We all saw the fallout of Chris Bosh, Dwyane Wade, and LeBron James signing three-year extensions instead of the five-year deals. We saw how the axis of ego came together and shattered all that is holy in a sport that is always more myth than man. It’s possible Kevin Love will end up doing the same thing to the Wolves that LeBron and Bosh did to their franchises. It’s also possible that by the threat of Kevin Love being able to leave after three years from the end of this season, the Wolves have put the necessary pressure on themselves to get this ship to the shores of Contender Island.
For just about 23 years, this organization has seemingly been looking down the road for when they’ll be able to contend. Once the franchise out-grew its expansion hand-me-downs and took a chance on an 18-year old kid from Maudlin, South Carolina, it finally had something to look forward to. When they had the trio of KG, Googs and Marbury, it was always a caveat of “wait a couple of years and these guys will be scary.” A couple of years never came because Steph ended up essentially forcing his way out.
The Wolves spent the next eight years fumbling around with KG’s legacy as they kept waiting for someone to eventually step up and be his second gun. It didn’t work with Terrel Brandon (injuries) or Wally Szczerbiak (evil hair gel telling him to steal passes from his teammates). The one time the Wolves nearly pulled something off is when they decided to win now instead of three years from now. They traded for veterans like Sam Cassell and Latrell Sprewell and made it to the Western Conference Finals.
Sometimes, people need a kick in the ass to get moving on a project. If you give me two weeks to get something done, I’m probably going to wait 13 days before I get cracking on it. If you give me 20 minutes to get something done, I’m going to try hard to finish the job immediately and probably do a better job than when I’m constantly second guessing myself. Maybe the Wolves will be the same way.
With Love and Rubio mastering Adelman’s gameplans, it would be easy to say, “let’s just give this time to gel and see what we’ve got. Maybe Anthony Randolph will make good decisions with the ball or Michael Beasley will learn to do things within the flow of the offense instead of the flow of his questionable synapse firings. Maybe Darko Milicic will learn how to dunk a basketball or rotate from the weak side with plenty of time to spare.”
Well now, maybe Kevin Love won’t want to stay on a team still rebuilding three years from now. Maybe the Wolves should let David Kahn ride off into the sunset this summer with the smarmy, self-appreciating look on his face while they get serious about becoming a contender and give Kevin Pritchard the job. Maybe the Wolves will learn from their past mistakes of waiting for this current team to eventually get it and go get the necessary pieces that already have it.
The consensus seems to be that the Wolves screwed up their current rebuilding process by re-signing their best player to a lesser deal than he wanted. If the team can’t put a roster around him within the next three years that makes him want to stay, then I have no problem with him leaving. I don’t want to see his prime wasted like we saw with KG. This rebuilding process has been going for four years; it shouldn’t take another three.
I’m happy that Kevin Love is here for at least three more years and probably far more than that. It gives him leverage to get this organization to win sooner rather than later. It’s a deal that gives him motivation to be better and outperform his contract for the next set of negotiations down the road. It also forces the Wolves to start running their organization in a way that doesn’t leave all of us cowering in the corner, wanting someone to make the bad man stop. The Wolves shot clock has now been reset to three years and there is no reason why we should ever hear that buzzer sound.
Congratulations, Kevin Love. Here’s to four (three) more years and a new person to negotiate with in 2016 (2015).