Breaking News: Kevin Love is still unsure about future with the Wolves

Zach Harper —  December 11, 2012 — 20 Comments

LoveTeaPot

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.”

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“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.

  1. OH MY GOD HE’S UNHAPPY WITH THE TEAM!
  2. Love hasn’t earned the right to have this attitude.
  3. So now what do the Wolves do?
  4. 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?

Nothing.

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.

Zach Harper

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20 responses to Breaking News: Kevin Love is still unsure about future with the Wolves

  1. Honestly, I’m a huge Love fan, however.. lately he’s been complaining more than he’s been playing. He’s missed a TON of defensive assignments, he complains on EVERY play he doesn’t get a call, he walks down to the defensive end when he believes he was fouled. He’s becoming a VERY me first player, and that scares the crap out of me. I think the team needs Rubio back, ASAP.. he makes Love play happier it seems. He’s the leader of the team, not love. Love got bitch slapped by AK47 (metaphorically speaking) for not doubling down on defense and not going hard on that end of the floor. Dante seemed to tell love to quit whining going into a time out. I don’t think any role player should have to tell the “star” these types of things. I want to see love elevate not his numbers, but his TEAM play. He reminds me of Melo of a couple of years ago. Great stats, tremendous potential but he needs to put his head in the game and focus on his team. I love the guy, he’s probably one of my favorite players and seems like an awesome person. I think management was crazy in the way they didn’t give him 5 years and bet the house on him, but still.. that’s too much whining imo.

  2. Taylor speaking of Love that way is surprising. GT used to be the poster owner for catering to stars, semi-stars, and guys who the star may or may not like.

    Anyone else ever notice how the tone of Loves comments change depending on who he’s talking to? If its Woj or Dan Patrick or BS Love comes off as an immature brat. If its reporters at Team USA he comes off as an eager beaver with a chip on his shoulder. He’s already getting the star treatment from the Wolves’ marketing and PR folks. He’s the face of the franchise. Outside of getting paid more, what more can the Wolves do? Fire Kahn and win.

    I think if Love wants to leave, he’ll leave. And part of me says that it’s fair of him to call the question of the direction of this franchise because its two years away from huge instability. Glen wants to sell, Rick wants to win now, and Loves contract is up. Who knows what could happen. What indication is there that any sort of plan is in place for who’s going to be running this show from the sidelines and the FO and owners box in three years?

    I think the one giant X-factor you didn’t include is whoever the knew ownership is. The right new owner could go a looooooooong way in making Love happy. That new owner will probably want his own FO to manage his investment, and assuming we keep winning with Adelman will want some continuity with that. A new owner can come in and say with integrity, ‘Kevin – I don’t know what those guys were thinking, but let me tell you what I see: a max player who’s still getting better. One of the top five players in the league!’ You get my point.

    To me Loves comments are the tip of the iceberg. There is a lot up in the air about what this organization will be in two years.

    Lastly – really Kevin? You and Big Al could’ve competed? Get real. That had mediocre city written all over it.

  3. The first winter snow in Minnesota and this guy is ready to go. Really Love just wants to go back to sunny California or the pacific northwest at least and he gets one winter snow and he has to leave. Lousy!! As far as this article goes I like the job Kahn has done this year. He has made a lot of good moves this offseason. If Kevin Love can not win with this team let him go I say.

  4. I’ve never cared for Kahn, but why would Glen Taylor fire him now? The path has been circuitous and maybe it was as much luck as skill, but Kahn has the Wolves where he said they would be three years ago. Results count. And he’s always been good managing payroll and not wasting Taylor’s money. I could see a new regime replacing him but Taylor?

    I realize Love is a star but if he thinks Kahn should be fired even though he is doing a pretty decent job in a small market based on petty grudges, that is really immature.

  5. Adrian has had an agenda against the Wolves for years now and i don’t trust anything he has to say about the team. I remember Love stating he loved this team earlier on in the season, believe it was around the Philly game. He’s on record stating he likes the make-up of the team, thus i don’t believe he’s not happy w/the roster turn-over for this year. If we can resign Pek and Bud, everyone outside Roy and possibly Howard will be back for next year. Furthermore, Adrian makes no sense, Love hates his contract, thats the gist of the article…well if what Adrian says is true about Love’s feelings towards the FO, he should be cherishing his contract. All in all, the article makes no sense.

  6. The real question is how much of this team is because of Kahn and how much is because of Adelman? I think Kahn got a lot more help from Adelman in shaping this team than people realize. I think Kahn is getting a lot of credit for moves that happened because of a push from Adelman. It sounds to me like we could get just about any GM and Adelman would steer them in the direction to get the players that he wants. The important part is just that that GM is not Kahn so we don’t guarantee our star leaving. We didn’t have good coaches during Kahn’s early tenure that were good at identifying players that fit into their styles and told Kahn to go out and get them. The team Kahn created had Beas, Wes, Martell and Darko playing decent minutes. The team Adelman created has AK, Bud (when he comes back), Shved and Cunningham getting decent minutes.

  7. KLove… Seriously acting like a child. He ain’t no Kobe and the organization has done its part to recruit the correct players to surround him and Ricky. I hope he doesn’t leave. But the way he sounds, he is about to..

  8. I agree with Kyle. Adelman likely has had a lot to say in the latest overhaul. We’re on the right track. Love does need to mature quite a bit. He can help this team more on the field by shutting up about calls. It’s not easy to be a ref and they will get some calls wrong. It’s like the fans would rush on to the court asking Love why he missed every time he misses a shot. Just accept that the refs do the best they can and move on with your part in it.

  9. I agree with Kyle- if Rick is pulling the personnel strings, Kahn provides very little value to the organization (the only positive thing on his resume is being patient for Ricky to come over…which isn’t saying much) and Kevin-baggage certainly outweighs anything he brings to the table. Hell, hire Zach as GM. He’d listen to Adelman, take care of the paperwork and blow smoke up Love’s butt to keep him happy.

    Dave makes a good point too- Woj doesn’t have much credibility with me in this article. Take the part where Kevin “complains” about turnover, questioning if there is any sort of a plan. Yes, Rick’s plan this year was to rid the locker room of toxic personalities and bring in guys who play hard and will help you make the playoffs, Kevin. Woj makes it sound like Kevin wanted one more year of continuity with Randolph, Wes, Darko and Beasley to finally make things click. Doesn’t make sense, so I’m taking the entire article (and everything else he writes) with a grain of salt.

    What worries me most about this team and the timing of Kevin’s contract opt-out is age. Adelman is old and probably won’t make it more than 2 more seasons. Kirelenko isn’t getting younger, Luke is on his way out and it’s a miracle if Roy plays consistently in 2013, much less ’15. This team has a solid foundation with Love/Ricky/Shved (yes I just put Shved in our foundation), but the supporting parts could easily fall apart in the next couple years. So if we don’t re-sign Pek/Bud, add other pieces and establish some Love-approved continuity at head coach, the Wolves will likely make 2-3 playoff runs, lose this sense of optimism and watch Kevin move to LA.

  10. I’ve always taken anything Woj says about the Timberwolves, and particularly David Kahn, with a huge grain of salt. Is there even a new story here? If it isn’t apparent already that Woj personally despises David Kahn, for whatever reason, here are some digs from the article…

    “Across a table in a downtown Philadelphia steak house recently, Love digs into a shrimp cocktail and considers the futility of the regime that passed judgment on his future, the power it holds over his championship aspirations.”

    “Yet, the reality is unmistakable: For all of Kahn’s missed picks, failed signings and flawed trades, Rubio is the player whom the GM can take full credit.”

    “Love will never get over how badly he wanted the designation as the Wolves’ franchise player, how deeply he believed it had been deserved and how Kahn was so smugly defiant in refusing to recognize it.”

    “In some ways, Taylor and Kahn have done Love a favor. They didn’t do it intentionally, because they’re simply not savvy enough, but there’s an anger pulsating with Love, a ferocity that they’ve indirectly fueled.”

    This isn’t the first time that Woj has used his column to personally berate Kahn either. Take a look at some quotes from an article he wrote shortly after the Wolves hired Rick Adelman (http://sports.yahoo.com/nba/news?slug=aw-wojnarowski_rick_adelman_twolves_091211)…

    “Privately, Adelman didn’t disguise his disdain for Kahn. They go back to Adelman’s glory days coaching the Portland Trail Blazers in the late 1980s and 1990s, when Kahn was covering the NBA beat as a sportswriter for the Oregonian. The idea that a bad sportswriter had turned into a brutal NBA executive troubled him, sources said. He couldn’t stand him then, and had no intention of resurrecting a working relationship with the man.”

    “Yes, this happened because Adelman finally found a way to justify the possibilities against the biggest drawback of the job: walking into the office and getting a daily dose of Kahn’s empty thoughts on basketball, his embarrassing management style.”

    “David Kahn still has his office, his business cards, but a lousy sportswriter turned farce of a GM is back where he started: trying to win Adelman’s respect, trying to stay an insider on the coach’s team.”

    I know sportswriting and sports commentary has become increasingly “aggressive” over the years, and there’s certainly plenty of warranted criticism of Kahn to go around, but does using your column to settle a score or outright insult someone qualify as professional journalism these days?

  11. Karl, you want me NOWHERE NEAR running an organization. I’d make Kahn look like R.C. Buford.

  12. Rob, Woj definitely has his vendettas out there and Kahn seems to be one of them. I don’t think that makes what he’s said about Kahn dishonest or fabricated. Maybe it’s a little unnecessary at times. Overkill.

    We’ve seen him do this with LeBron while building a shrine to Kobe. You build up your sources and leave the rest for dead. I mean… that’s not what you’re SUPPOSED to do but it’s what some guys choose to do. That’s why unless it’s about the T’Wolves, I typically just pay attention to his breaking news, rather than his columns, because you hear things about certain guys in media rooms.

    I’ll just leave it at that.

  13. Zach, you should be able to tell if this is true, but isn’t Love in a better position money wise with the deal he has? He can opt out after 3, re sign with the wolves for more money then any team, and by the time the 5th year of the contract he wanted comes around he will make more then that contract was worth? And he didn’t hand string the Wolves in doing it. If he was a max player they would have less money to spend on players. I’m not saying he doesn’t deserve it but at times in a small market you can’t always lock people into huge long contracts when you aren’t sure if you have a winning model in place. Isn’t this a leason they learned with KG?

  14. Eric, that’s an excellent point but I truly don’t believe this is about money with Love. I believe when he talks about how generous 60+ million over four years is. It’s about the status of being a 5-year max player. There’s a big difference there and that’s what guys around the league want.

    James Harden was given that status by a team he never played for. Love has been busting his ass to get better here for over four years now and he couldn’t get them to give him the same title. To him, that’s disrespectful. Whether we agree with that or not, that’s his perception and he holds the majority of the upper hand here.

    In terms of money, getting shorter three-year deals instead of five-year deals gives you a higher earning potential in the NBA because every new contract can jump up roughly 20%, I believe, in starting salary from the last year. As long as you’re healthy and not blowing out your knee, you stand to make more money by opting out early and collecting on the rate increase. Otherwise, you’re getting 8% increases year-to-year.

    That’s why I don’t believe it’s about the money with Love. I think it’s about the respect he feels he isn’t getting. We can say, “you’re getting $60 million; that’s enough respect.” But if money isn’t the respect he wants, that doesn’t mean anything from us.

  15. Everything will be better when Ricky comes back. Smiles will fill Target Center, the Wolves WILL make the playoffs, and Kevin will be happy. Let’s just hold out a few more weeks.

  16. I don’t really understand Love’s thinking here. This sound like an interview that would have taken place sometime in the off season.

    But right when you are about to get Rubio back which, I believe, will turn this into a 55+ win team (I know I bias)? Why would you continue to complain when the team is clearly going to be very good?

  17. Of course Adelman is pulling some strings, every coach does, at least every reputable/good coach. No GM has a full knowledge/understanding of what the coach is planning to run, the intricacies of the schemes. The coach simply suggests players he thinks fit what he wants to do, and a good GM attempts to acquire them. Thats the problem w/the Lakers right now, simply assembling the best players doesn’t always work. You need the right mix of players. Kahn deserves credit for listening to Adelman, acquiring the players he has, while not handicapping the team. Thats what the GM does.
    I think it speaks volumes about Kahn on his patience w/Ricky. How many times was he crucified, belittled, that Rubio would never come, would never be anything but a good player, etc. He stuck by his guns and it has worked. I think Love can and will understand about the money in time and how it all works out better for him. I don’t think Kahn will even offer a contract that will screw this franchise for years aka Hudson, Wally, even KG’s contract.

    I’m guessing Adelman stays for as long as this current roster holds true and keeps improving. Basically until AK is done and/or Love leave, AK has a few years left in him, especially if we stop playing him 40+mpg every game. Shved is coming nicely and faster than i had thought. Pek seems to have regressed but hopefully thats just due to his ankle issues this season. Luke will be quite fine once Rubio is back and he’s relegated to 20mpg, which is where he belongs and thrives. There is no way Adelman is going to let Bud get away. Pek seems the kind of guy who will sign for a decent deal, no ridiculous demands. Thus everyone but Roy and possibly Howard will be back next year….
    This years draft will be crucial, we’ll need a 2 to replace Roy and likely a C as Steimsma seems to have completely lost everything on the offensive end. How a guy can go from his solid production during the first couple of weeks to the last 6 weeks is beyond me. Fact is if this team can get and stay healthy, we are a solid team for the next couple of years at least. SAS, LAL are all getting old and very fast as well.

  18. I typically just pay attention to his breaking news, rather than his columns, because you hear things about certain guys in media rooms.

    I’ll just leave it at that.

    And this is the problem with Woj and this article. It’s a hit-piece, pure & simple, designed to try and get Kahn run out of town. Notice how all the usual suspects immediately jumped on the bandwagon trashing away? (Jim Souhan & Dan Barreiro are your ears burning?)

    No mention was made, but would anyone be surprised if Love’s agent was at this dinner? You know, the one who also reps Jefferson & Beasley? Is known to be a consistent source for Woj, and also has a HUGE beef against Kahn? I mean, why was Al Jefferson even a part of this conversation, unless Woj or someone else brought his name up?

    Kahn’s made some major mistakes as GM, but I’m not wild about this kind of personal vendetta (or the revisionist history that goes along with it: remember, people loved trading for Beasley at the time because of the price & the upside, and everyone thought Rambis could be the next great coach too!).

  19. Kahn may make bad personnel decisions but he is pretty good at running the team as a business, which counts to a guy like Glen Taylor who isn’t Maloof brothers cheap (now that they are broke), but is also not a free spender. And Adelman is a very good basketball mind and talent evaluator but why do people automatically assume that makes him the best choice to be chief executive of an organization? And delegating properly and to the right people is an important executive ability, so if Kahn handed off personnel decisions to Adelman to a large degree that means he is doing a good job, not that he is useless.

    And it’s all very well and good for people to trash Woj and say it was all just an awful awful hatchet job driven by his personal agenda and nothing else, but hey – Kevin Love acknowledged the article and stood by it. So why are people making excuses for K-Love that he himself is not?

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