Kevin Love has once again voiced his lack of trust in the Wolves’ front office and once again, it’s eliciting the same reactions.
Here are a few snippets from Adrian Wojnarowski’s latest column, this time on Kevin and his uncertainty about his future in Minnesota:
“I don’t know who labels people stars, but even [T’wolves owner] Glen Taylor said: I don’t think Kevin Love is a star, because he hasn’t led us to the playoffs,” Love told Yahoo! Sports. “I mean, it’s not like I had much support out there.
“That’s a tough pill to swallow.”
In a regimen he’s done most of his life, Love fractured a bone thrusting himself to his feet upon completion of a round of knuckle pushups. He missed a month on the floor, but his ears missed nothing from those in management whispering that maybe the injury didn’t happen the way Love insisted it did.
“Even people in my own organization were asking if it was a legitimate injury, people calling my honesty and integrity into question,” Love says. “And that’s what really hurt me.”
“You walk into the locker room every year, and it’s completely turned over,” Love says. “There’s new guys everywhere. And then it happens again and again. You start to wonder: Is there really a plan here? Is there really any kind of a … plan?”
“It was a projection over a sure thing,” Love says. “There’s no question there was an agenda here. A different agenda.”
“I have a very, very good memory, and I always remember the people who have done right by me, and the people who have done wrong by me,” he says. “It will be embedded in my brain, and something I won’t forget about. There’s no telling what will happen. I would love to compete for a championship in Minnesota, but …”
“I haven’t been in the playoffs yet,” Love says. “I’m looking at my contract in the eye of two years from now, and if I haven’t been to the playoffs – or it’s been one playoff berth – well, it’s going to be tough to say, ‘Oh well, I’m going to stay here and continue to rebuild.’ ”
“We should’ve at least tried it, especially with the way things were going,” Love says. “I was beginning to figure things out in my second season. Everybody knew what Al was capable of, and is still capable of. It was definitely worth the risk of seeing what would happen. If it didn’t work, then go another way. But we never tried it.”
Those are the majority of the quotes from Kevin Love in Woj’s article. There are some more good ones but you should really hunker down and read the entire ordeal.
We’ve discussed this before and have come to the same conclusion nearly every time. If the Wolves get rid of David Kahn and treat Kevin Love like the star he wants to be, then a lot of this nonsense goes away. Throw in the fact that this is the first good roster Love has ever been a part of and we’re talking about a team finally getting some stability for the first time since Kevin Garnett was leading them to the playoffs. But there are deeper issues than the roster that this team has. This is about the path of a superstar in their short NBA careers.
There are a few reactions I’m seeing to this latest bout of quotes by the Wolves’ star.
- OH MY GOD HE’S UNHAPPY WITH THE TEAM!
- Love hasn’t earned the right to have this attitude.
- So now what do the Wolves do?
- Love doesn’t want to be here? Well we don’t need him!
With the first point, we’ve known this since he was denied the five-year maximum. He instantly put a three-year shot clock on the Wolves’ management to put enough of a winner around him to make it look impossible for him to leave for brighter skies than Minneapolis. It was a risk I was fine with for the Wolves because sometimes I believe organizations need a kick in the pants to get them going. What ended up happening with the hierarchy of the team’s decision-making is Rick Adelman became the main visionary, asked Glen Taylor to sign off on his decisions and then it was David Kahn’s job to make these suggestions happen. At least that seems to be the consensus with people in/around the organization that I’ve talked to.
It was at this moment that the Wolves finally got some momentum in building this roster for the short and long-term goals of getting back to the playoffs and staying there. For those that complain Love has never taken this team to the playoffs and therefore hasn’t earned the right to make the comments like he’s made over the past 10 months, that doesn’t really capture the current status of being a franchise player in the NBA world.
Make no mistake about it: Love has worked his gut off turning himself from one of the best role players in the NBA to a guy who can legitimately dream of leading a team and he’s done so in three years time. He’s improved every facet of his game and become one of the more lethal offensive weapons in the league, the best rebounder in the NBA, and an improving defender who works more in the team concept than he displays defensive inconsistency. He’s not a great defender now but he’s no longer David Lee out there.
This roster he’s been a part of for four-plus years has been terrible. There’s no other way around it. They’ve rarely had guys worth keeping around and even last season, we saw just how deep this roster was when Ricky Rubio, Nikola Pekovic, and Love went down with injuries. It’s nearly impossible to take bad rosters to the playoffs, especially in a consistently loaded conference.
But the thing about this whole thing is it isn’t about Kevin Love on the court; it’s about him off the court.
The confusing thing to me is why make these comments to a national reporter in Philadelphia this past week? Sure, there is the new complaint about someone questioning whether or not he was truthful about how his hand got injured. There are a few culprits as to whom Love is referring to but it seems pretty obvious what the point of this entire piece was supposed to do. To me, this seems like a hit piece on David Kahn. Obviously, that’s me just assuming a lot here but at the same time, why make any of these comments at this point in the season?
Considering how Kahn apparently handled the contract negotiations and his futile attempts to deal Love, even after he broke out with a 20-15 season a couple years ago, it wouldn’t shock me if Love would want him gone sooner rather than later. Whether this is the correct way or time to go about it, that seems murky to me. But what you learn over time in this business is quotes and information gets leaked out for a reason. So what’s the reason for letting these comments go to Woj now?
It could be two-fold. First, you put the seed out there consistently to get rid of the management you don’t want out there. If we’re going to see this every couple of months, it would theoretically continue to put pressure on the Wolves to get rid of Kahn and hand over complete control to Adelman and his people in the organization. If you want someone gone, you keep throwing these barbs and questions out there until he’s gone. Second, it gives Love a win-win situation in getting out of Minneapolis.
If he’s constantly talking about the team being a contender for him to stay, then there isn’t a way for him to lose publicly if/when it happens. If he decides to stay because they’ve built a true contender around him, then he’s he the star this team needs for a decade or more. He’s the hero of Minnesota hoops and has gotten the team to do what he needed them to do in order for him to be a successful star here. If they’re not good enough and he bolts to the Lakers in 2015, he has years of pleading for the team to get better so he doesn’t waste his career like Kevin Garnett essentially did.
It’s a brilliant exit strategy if he decides to have an exit. That can elicit a reaction from locals here about Love needing to be mature and that if he doesn’t want to be here then the Wolves don’t need him or want him. Let me assure you that’s not the case. In the NBA, you cater to the star or you lose the star. And even sometimes when you cater to the star, you end up losing him. If you want the team to continue to be good and exciting, you’re going to need Love sticking around. And there’s nothing necessarily wrong with that. That’s just the reality of sports, especially in the NBA.
Regarding Love’s maturity, the timing of his comments lately (right before free agency started and now) don’t exactly scream maturity. But the beauty of being one of the better players in the NBA today is you don’t have to show maturity at all times. Is this the best way to build chemistry with the team? It depends on the guys on this team. I doubt people like Andrei Kirilenko and Brandon Roy will care about what Love says. They’ve been around long enough to know what he’s dealing with. And if you do care and show it, perhaps that’s outing the players Love needs and doesn’t need on the roster with him going forward.
So what do the Wolves do now?
There’s nothing to do. They stay the course, try to get healthy, and let Rick Adelman coach the losing out of this team. It’s a process that has begun and one that is seemingly working. They’ve been without their two best players for the majority of this season and the results are pretty good so far. As Love gets back into shape and Rubio gets healthy again, the team will continue to build on their continuity, chemistry and creation of a winning culture. Love will probably continue to remind everybody he can leave because the trust isn’t there. And until he gets what he wants (star treatment), we’re going to continue to go through this.
The Wolves essentially need to get rid of the people Love doesn’t want here (presumably Kahn) and treat him with the respect other organizations show their star players. If they do that and keep improving the roster without a ton of overhaul, then everything will be sunshine and sprinkles in Minnesota. If not, the Wolves will only have themselves to blame when he packs his bags for greener pastures.