We were hoping to see a glimpse of Kevin Love with this core of a surging Ricky Rubio, Nikola Pekovic, Andrei Kirilenko, Chase Budinger, and friends so that we — and more importantly management — would have a good idea of what this team looked like when everybody was on the court this season. The ideal lineup of Rubio-Chase-AK-Love-Pek played exactly zero minutes and zero seconds on the floor together this season, which makes it hard to evaluate what they need to know heading into this offseason.
Unfortunately, that’s not going to happen at all. Love is going to have knee surgery to clean up some scar tissue and that will keep him out of action for about a month. Considering there are only eight days left in the season, math tells me he won’t be back before the game against San Antonio on the 17th. From the team:
The Minnesota Timberwolves today announced that Kevin Love will undergo an arthroscopic procedure on his left knee to remove a buildup of scar tissue. The surgery will be performed by Dr. David Altchek of the Hospital for Special Surgery in New York City later this week. A typical recovery time for this type of procedure is 4-6 weeks.
Love has missed the past 47 games after breaking the third and fourth metacarpal in his right hand at Denver on Jan. 3. He underwent surgery on Jan. 15 at the Hospital for Special Surgery in New York City. Love originally suffered a fracture of his third and fourth metacarpal in his right hand on Oct. 17 while working out, and missed the first nine games of the season.
For the season, Love played in 18 contests and averaged 18.3 points and 14.0 rebounds per game.
It’s a pretty routine procedure and he should be fully recovered in time to have a normal offseason training session and be primed to begin training camp at the end of September/beginning of October.
If anything this is a pretty perfect bookend to the season the Wolves have had during the 2012-13 campaign. It began with a knee injury clouding the organization, that cloud turned into a pretty torrential feces storm, and now it will end with one more knee injury. In terms of Love being ready to lead this team (whether or not you believe he can, that’s his job over the next few seasons), this is probably the best thing for him. While these games have value, they’re ultimately meaningless in a way. Now Kevin can make sure nothing is wrong with his body heading into next season and return to being the second best player in franchise history (sorry, Ndubi Ebi).
This ends up being a throwaway season for Love, which is both frustrating and understandable. Two broken hands in one season and now a buildup of scar tissue that was likely aggravated during the rehab process. It’s not entirely uncommon for something like this to happen if you’re working hard on a previously injured body part. And it’s good that Love and the team have decided to shut him down instead of trying to play through the injury. It’s also hilarious that they announced it at 8:30pm on the night of the NCAA title game, but that’s another conversation for another time.
Here’s what I hope for Kevin moving forward. I hope this past year has helped him mature.
Even though there are some that will never understand the entire story of what happened to him with the Yahoo article because they just don’t know or they refuse to let someone who makes a lot of money get duped or make a mistake, that entire situation was completely overblown. Whether you choose to try to understand the situation or not, I don’t really care anymore. Some people just like to find reasons to be mad. With that said, the machismo of Kevin Love has hopefully been curbed a little bit.
If you look at his mistakes in the last year, the biggest ones (mouthing off to media about management three days before free agency goes live, knuckle pushups, coming back early from the hand injury, etc.) have all been acts of unnecessary bravado. Granted, I believe there are good intentions behind that unnecessary bravado, but it doesn’t mean it was the correct course of action. Everything Love has said about the management of this team has been correct, in my opinion; it just hasn’t been well timed. It also hasn’t always been to the right person because sometimes people have dinner with you in the hopes of extracting quotes to help fill an agenda.
The knuckle pushups are a regularly used exercise amongst professional athletes, including NBA players. However, it’s kind of a stupid idea because you’re increasing the risk of injury. It makes you look cool and it makes you look tough, but it also increases your chances of getting hurt in a typically benign exercise. When Love came back from the injury after just a month, we (including myself) got caught up in the heart it took to return so early. And there is validity to that.
However, in hindsight it definitely seems like a relatively poor decision. He was cleared to resume activity so it wasn’t completely reckless. But that doesn’t mean it was a great idea. If the hand was weak and never properly strengthened, then it was a ticking time bomb. If it was fine and he just had a freak accident against the Nuggets when it re-broke, then it’s completely excusable. What we do know is he wasn’t in great shape when he came back. I understand why he wasn’t in great shape. While his body looked slender enough, his arms looked pretty weak (in relative terms of course). That comes from not being able to lift as much, I’m sure.
Maybe instead of coming back right away, Love should have taken a couple of weeks to get back into great shape? That’s debatable. There’s definitely middle ground between what he ended up doing and what Derrick Rose is currently doing. Love wanted to run right back onto the court and help his team, but in doing so, he didn’t have the proper perspective for the team and himself (which again is easy to say in hindsight).
And the perspective is the biggest thing for Love to learn in his career at this point. When you look at the veterans around the league who are still performing at a high level despite aging in sports telling us it shouldn’t be happening anymore, they know how to pace themselves throughout the year. They do the preparation in the offseason to allow them to be at a point where they can physically maintain throughout the season and be ready for the playoffs. That’s what Love needs to learn; he needs to learn that patience is a virtue stars in this league have. He didn’t show patience with any of his mistakes over the past year.
Considering he’s 24 years old, that makes sense. I’ve rarely met a 24-year old that didn’t have his head up his own body. But at some point (hopefully), all 24-year olds eventually mature and this was the perfect year to teach Love how to be patience and to pace the season.
Two years ago, Kevin startled a lot of people when he showed up to media day. He had shed dozens and dozens of pounds, and looked to be in remarkable shape. I expect him to look that way coming into the 2013-14 season. He’s a great player and with him in shape and healthy, he can help make this team be really good. We’ve seen flashes here and there but they’ve been missing a key cog in the machine for all but 18 games this season. With the improvement of Rubio during an ACL-recovery season and the restructured roster showing depth and building blocks on this team, Love has everything he needs to get to the playoffs next season.
It would have been nice to get a glimpse of what that might look like over the last week of this season, but we all needed perspective here. I’m excited to see what he can do next season.