Kevin Love makes noise

Benjamin Polk —  July 9, 2012 — 11 Comments

Unusually for a famous professional athlete, Kevin Love mostly tells you what he’s thinking. And even when he’s attempting to mask his feelings on an issue, that masking is so halfhearted and unconvincing that we nevertheless walk away with a pretty good impression of what’s under the surface. So here are his feelings on the Wolves progress to the playoffs, as reported to Yahoo! Sports (via ESPN.com):

My patience is not high. Would yours be, especially when I’m a big proponent of greatness surrounding itself with greatness? All these [Team USA] guys seem to have great players around them. It’s tough seeing all these guys that are young and older who have all played in the playoffs. When they start talking about that, I have nothing to talk about. If I don’t make the playoffs next year, I don’t know what will happen.

These seem like Revealing Comments from a Famous Basketball Player. But lets take a step back and ask ourselves whether these comments are even a little surprising. Would any of us like to watch, let alone play for, a team as hapless as the Wolves have been since Love arrived? Are any of us feeling particularly patient with the Wolves’ progress? When Love signed his extension, we all knew that the Wolves were gambling that, in three years’ time, they would become good enough to keep him around. Does Love’s recent remarks change that equation in the slightest? The reality is clear, as it always has been: the Wolves need to improve dramatically over the next two seasons. If they don’t, they might find themselves starting over from scratch.

Update: Read Zach’s excellent take on Love’s comments in Truehoop today. Here’s an excerpt:

By saying the team needs to make the playoffs or changes need to happen in the days before you may or may not acquire Batum just seems like horrendous timing. The Wolves had only a glimmer of hope to get away with acquiring Batum outright if Portland decided not to match. Now Portland can be open to a sign-and-trade, knowing they can demand any and all assets Minnesota has at its disposal…Love could have applied pressure to the Timberwolves in private, but now the rest of the league has been put on alert — things in the Twin Cities are bumpy. That doesn’t help you keep future contract negotiations and trade discussions in your team’s favor. It takes away any potential for possessing the upper-hand when transforming your roster.

Benjamin Polk

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11 responses to Kevin Love makes noise

  1. Simple explanation.

    It’s the off-season, and over half the writers/reporters for ESPN, for some reason, have a real hard-on about Love going to the Lakers. They can’t write about it if they don’t float something like this out there first.

  2. I could have told you that and btw, K Love need to shave that mustache. He looks like an out of work porn star.

  3. The problem is not what K-Love wants or expects which is reasonable, it is making it happen. Winning more than 42-45 games is going to be tough even if they land Batum (which I assume they won’t), and there is a real chance if they don’t extend Pek now some desperate free-spending team that strikes out on the top free agents next summer (I’m looking at you, Mavericks) will throw $70 million at him if he plays well this season. Then with no lottery pick and no Pek you’ve taken one step forward and two steps back . . . I think Love is try to say in no uncertain terms that outcome is unacceptable. Not sure Kahn gets the message though, he strikes me as a guy who would be very happy with being able to say he got the team over .500 in year 4.

  4. Eric in Madison July 10, 2012 at 8:38 am

    Just another small twist of the knife emanating from the absurd contract they made him sign.

    Of all the stupid stuff this franchise has done in the last few years, not locking Love up for 5 years is the most inexplicable, idiotic, and damaging maneuver. No explanation. At all.

  5. I commend him for being so honest- Few athletes ever are, due to the repercussions. Who wouldn’t be upset after a tenure like Love’s? Love came off the bench for a full season by the hilariously inept Rambis, who was certain that Al Jefferson was more deserving of those minutes, He’s been screwed out of an All Star start because his team is so bad, The contract debacle, and the blown top 10 picks…etc, etc..

    i think it is time for himn to say something, and I think he did it intelligently.

  6. Eric- I think the most inexplicable maneuver in Wolves history is trading Roy for Foye, and then trading Mayo for Love- moving down both times for NOTHING- no money, no player, no anything, just voluntarily moving down a spot in the draft for no asset. I am thrilled the Love thing worked out in our favor, but on draft day, it was inexplicable

    Also under consideration-

    - Joe Smith, nuff said.
    - Multiple year contract for Darko (pretty sure there was no competition, we most likely could have went with a 1 year deal.
    - Back to Back PG’s (although it is worth noting that the only other players we could have ever drafted there were Jennings and Curry, also both PG’s at the time, so this is really a case of valuing Flynn over the other two. Admittedly, Curry was a pure shooter miscast as a PG and should have been the easy choice)
    - Hiring Rambis and watching him force an offensive system on a team that did not have even 1 player suited for it. Possibly the worst job of meshing scheme with talent I have ever seen, and it is most likely directly responsible for Brewer and Johnson not panning out. Wes Johnson should be a great fit in Adelman’s system, but I think that he had all of his confidence ruined by Rambis, and now he is on his second system in 2 years.

    Honorable Mention- Felton Spencer! JR Rider! Will Avery! Ndudi Ebi!

  7. Eric in Madison July 10, 2012 at 10:09 am

    Nate:

    Well, when I said the last few years, I was thinking since Kahn’s hiring. Still, I take exception. They did get stuff out of the Mayo for Love deal. They got shorter contracts (one of whom was Mike Miller, who didn’t really work out, but still…). They also got some cash for the Roy thing.

    Look, every team makes draft mistakes. It’s frustrating, but not “inexplicable” as I view the word. The Love contract just has no justification.

  8. I get it– sadly, it is a long history of ineptitude, and it is not for the first time that I wonder if the owner and organizational structure are to blame, and not necessarily the figurehead of the front office.

    I forgot that the Love deal was later configured into an 8 player deal- I didn’t remember that was our out for the horrible Marko Jaric deal (which should have been included in my list!)

  9. I think the Love deal is explicable, if unwise. They were trying to maintain cap flexibility down the road for resigning Rubio and Williams. In their minds, giving Love that opt out year was a fair exchange for making the contract less long term. Good example of not seeing the forest for the trees. Here’s a good rule of thumb to simplify things: in the NBA, if a top-ten player wants to sign with you give him whatever he wants.

  10. Eric in Madison July 10, 2012 at 4:31 pm

    That’s hardly an explanation Ben. Players coming off their rookie deals never turn down extensions. Rubio still has 3 indentured years, then, even if the 5 year was gone with Love, would have signed a 4 year deal.

    So they blew 2 years of Love to be in a position to maybe give Rubio one extra year long before that comes to pass and long before we have any real idea what Rubio’s value will be?

    That’s not expication, that’s craziness. If that was really their thinking…wow.

    And let’s be clear: Love’s deal is a 3 year deal. There is almost no way he isn’t opting out. Nobody plays on a 1 year deal if they can help it, (unless you are Dwight Howard, and that’s no prize either).

  11. I don’t think Ben was saying there is a persuasive explanation, just that there is one. At his worst, Kahn does that kind of penny wise pound foolish Monty-Burns-as-manager (“Strawberry, I’m replacing you with a left-handed pinch hitter. It’s called playing the percentages!”) crap more than an intuitively capable GM should.

    But back to Love . . . I dunno, he’s always been outspoken, and I’ve quite enjoyed that about him. Lot of people in the press are killing him saying he should shut up and play ball, but I don’t see why. He should demand the Wolves put a winner around him, it’s not like Melo or Dwight where the teams were “merely” winning 50-55 games every year and failed to build superteams around their diva star, the Wolves have consistently been bad. I almost feel like there is a reverse racism thing going on, the “blue collar white player should just shut up and play ball and not make ultimatums.” Why the F not? He is one of the dozen or so best players in the game and he has worked extremely hard to get there. He is better than anybody thought he would be three years ago excepting people with the last name Love, first initial K. He is that much better because he wanted to get better and made himself that way. His team and his teammates should do the same or incur his wrath.

    When Eli said he thought he was as good a QB as anybody before last season, the media killed him for being arrogant, clueless and selfish. Well, he went out and led a pretty average team to the NFC title and outdueled Brady and won the Super Bowl, so screw the media and their conventional wisdom. I know if you talk the talk you have to walk the walk, but time and space being what it is sometimes you have to first talk the talk.

    Rubio is great, I get that. But you know who drafted Love and Pek the only other Wolves potentially worth two craps on a contending team? Kevin McHale. Kahn has had TEN first round draft picks in the last four drafts, including four in the top six. From ten first round picks he has drafted one viable NBA starter. ONE. The rest he turned into Martell Webster, Jonny Flynn, Wes, Wayne Ellington, Lazar Hayward, Malcolm Lee, Chase Budinger, Derrick Williams, two guys in Europe locked into long-term contracts who will never come here and a lot of second round picks and cash considerations. The Euros and the second round picks have been mostly sold off for more cash considerations. So if you are K-Love you have watched your owner and GM make chalk picks that show no special eye for talent, loot the team’s assets for cash like vulture capitalists and just move a bunch of crap around to fake out the fans. And he offered to stick around and be the face of this franchise and they cheaped him too in the name of “financial flexibility” as if that wasn’t part of the general program to make sure the #1 priority was to put money in Glen Taylor’s pocket, with fielding a good team being a consequential but secondary goal and fielding a great team somebody else’s aspiration. Rubio may be good but he isn’t a panacea to everything.

    So let Kevin Love be pissed, and say he has been in the league five years and he doesn’t want to play for a team that isn’t serious about contending. Because all of you Wolves fans, really look in the mirror and say when you aren’t blinded by the soft bigotry of low expectations this organization has any commitment to really winning, has an executive who can get the pieces, and the talent to make anything meaningful happen. And if you can’t don’t cuss out Kevin Love because he has the nerve to speak the truth which is that the Wolves aren’t that good and worse, aren’t getting better fast enough for him. Sometimes the smart and pretty girl isn’t being a bitch, she really is too good for you.

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