Do You Know Who’s In Command, Here?

William Bohl —  May 19, 2014 — 8 Comments

In the wee hours of Sunday morning, Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! Sports dropped one of his patented “bombs“, which is usually fun, because he (often unexpectedly) reports a big piece of league news. But in this instance, for Timberwolves fans, the Woj-bomb was more of a vague reference to a landmine somewhere along Flip Saunders’ path, which wasn’t much fun to wake up to. An excerpt (read the original article here):

“As the Minnesota Timberwolves consider the future of All-Star forward Kevin Love, Sam Mitchell has emerged as a serious candidate for the franchise’s head coaching job, league sources told Yahoo Sports…

Beyond the coaching search, the Wolves are under pressure to start considering trade scenarios for Love, who’s anxious to exercise his early termination option (ETO) in the summer of 2015 and leave as a free agent, league sources said.”

This, naturally, set off a mini-firestorm on various social media platforms, reports flying everywhere at a rapid rate. Jon Krawczynski’s afternoon post for the Associated Press affirmed that Flip Saunders and Glen Taylor would consider trading the superstar forward “if the right deal comes along,” a shift from their previous public stance. Krawczynski also reported (via Twitter) that “Love and his reps have NOT asked for a trade or told Wolves he definitely will not re-sign.” However, Wojnarowski updated his story in the late afternoon and stated that Love’s representatives at Excel Sports were, in fact, pushing the Wolves’ front office to “find a trade acceptable to them before the beginning of summer free agency in July – preferably by the June 26 NBA draft.” ESPN’s Ramona Shelburne and Marc Stein chimed in as well, stating that Golden State and Chicago were two potential destinations that intrigue Love. Finally, this morning, Jerry Zgoda of the Star Tribune provided quotes from Glen Taylor, who acknowledged the shift in the team’s philosophy, but remained hopeful that the team could find a way to entice him to stick around.

Each of the national reporters mentioned in the above paragraph (Wojnarowski, Stein, and Shelburne) have terrific sources in league circles and are routinely at the forefront of major NBA stories. Both of the Minnesota-based reporters in the above paragraph (Krawczynski and Zgoda) have their fingers on the pulse of the Wolves’ front office. In short, all five reporters are good at what they do, yet if you read everything they had to say yesterday, there’s a lot of conflicting information. Add to their superior reporting the mind-numbing amount of baseless, biased nonsense circulating about, it’s hard to know what to make of yesterday’s events.

I hate comparing sports to war, but the above clip from the movie “Apocalypse Now” encapsulates my feelings on what lies ahead for all of us outside Kevin Love’s camp, the Wolves front office, and the small circle of reporters with bona fide access to each side. Captain Willard (Martin Sheen) is traveling up the Nung River in search of Marlon Brando’s fat ass, er, Colonel Kurtz, when he stumbles across a haphazard outpost where chaos reigns supreme. Soldiers are running around firing into the darkness, at random, and Willard, who seems to be the only rational guy around, wants to know who’s in charge. After ‘Roach’ calmly fires into the night, he’s asked a simple question:

Willard: “Hey, soldier. Do you know who’s in command, here?”

Roach: “Yeah…”

The look on Roach’s face when he says, “yeah,” the fact that he doesn’t elaborate, doesn’t need to elaborate, is one of the most powerful moments in the film. Willard is far up the river, deep inside the horror, darkness and pandemonium of war. Roach knows who’s in charge. No one’s in charge. Every one’s in charge. For the rest of his journey, nothing about the normal protocol of battle applies, and information will be hard to come by.

Which is right where we are. Someone’s in charge of the Love affair, but no one really knows who. Some say the Wolves have all the leverage, others insist it’s Love. One reporter says one thing, another reporter refutes it. In some ways yesterday’s events weren’t really news, but in other ways, things are different now. It’s going to be a long month until the draft, and there are many more reports to come, about potential trades and ideas of trades, wading through what’s legitimate and what’s subterfuge will be tricky or impossible. In a way, we are all Captain Willard. Welcome to the chaos.

William Bohl

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8 responses to Do You Know Who’s In Command, Here?

  1. If he goes, that will suck, but I at least hope they get SOMETHING of merit back for him. Obviously you’d love to have one of the big players in this years draft and build off that, but that seems highly unlikely. I guess we can all pray that the Wolves and their 2% chance hit a miracle and jump into the Top 3 tomorrow night. Then Love might consider staying if he has Andrew Wiggins or Jabari Parker around to help him.

    I really think this team can make big strides this year if they get the right coach. Deng and Shabazz I think need to be rotation players the whole way through next season and I’d see if they could move Buddinger or even Pek for some cap space, again probably unlikely though the way the league is playing these days.

  2. They need to unload Budinger’s bad deal in any move to trade Love. It sucks but we all knew it was coming eventually after last season when Flip did nothing to fix that bench.

  3. ESPN has a good story today on the difficulty in getting much in return for 1 year “rentals”, even of players of Love’s calibur.
    If/when he leaves, maybe the writers here, maybe Zgoda, will be willing to put to the public a discussion about the management of this team, because it is so painful to watch. I honestly hope Flip will improve things, he’s playing a hand he was dealt earlier here with little chance of coming up big. But this year, this team, was the first time since the Garnett area where there was excitement or hope. Now we’re having _this_ conversation because Kahn didn’t sign Love to the max deal, and whether Taylor knew of this decision and didn’t care, approved, etc., it’s going to go down as one of the biggest mistakes in the history of this team (Along with the return we got for the Garnet trade and the Joe Johnson draft debacle).
    Hopefully we’re not in for another dark age, like after Garnett leaving, and please call me the prototypical whining Minnesota sports fan, but it’s hard to argue that the ownership and management of this team inspire confidence, and hard to argue that things are going to be better with Love gone.

  4. Joe smith, not Joe Johnson…..you know what I mean.

  5. I’m not writing anything off for K Love yet for staying or going. So far it is clear he told Wolves brass he was opting out to test the market. That’s it…doesn’t mean he wants to leave, and it doesn’t mean he wants to stay. I still believe if the Wolves upgrade the bench and make a decent push in the playoffs this coming season he stays. If it’s another season of injuries and even barely making the playoffs he’s a goner. Flip is in a tough position….Godspeed man!

  6. I have no problem with them going for it again next season and then daring him to take less money. Who knows what dumb moves the Knicks and Lakers make this summer that would reduce their cap space?

    If they don’t trade him between the lottery and the draft, they’re better off letting the season play out; taking on guys like Harrison Barnes or Jared Sullinger places them in purgatory. If he leaves after that, they’re better off blowing it all up and starting over with a rookie coach and their remaining youth.

    I don’t have a problem with them trading him, though I hope it’d be to the East. They need a young player who could start right now on a playoff team or a top-5 pick, and they need to take back at least $10 million less in salary than they’re giving out while also taking back contracts that are at least 1 year shorter than the ones they send out (if they decided to add Martin/Budinger/Brewer to a deal). If they want to try keeping things together after such a trade, they have to find a deal that gets them Josh Smith without giving up Pek, Rubio, Dieng or any future 1sts.

  7. I like Kevin Love a lot but watching some games last season I couldnt help but think that he deserves to have a shot at a title. Sadly thats not the wolves right now. If they have to trade him I’d maybe like Butler Mirotic Gibson and picks that would help the wolves with wing defence or maybe if they can get klay thompson out of the warriors. Finally I would call Houston before I did anything and offer a trade straight up for Harden just to see if they would be willing to trade him

  8. I think the Wolves best option is just to sit on Love and hope he stays. The only teams that have ever traded a bonafide superstar and haven’t gotten completely fleeced are the Magic when they traded T-Mac (only because it helped them draft Dwight Howard and T-Mac got injured a lot) and the Nuggets when they traded Carmelo only because it allowed George Karl to unleash the offense he wanted to run the whole time and the Knick’s pick is in the lottery this year.

    That said, the Wolves are in a tough spot because if you add up the sum of the parts it is clear that KLove wouldn’t mind leaving right now for a contender but he will absolutely leave next year if the Wolves can’t compete. Unfortunately, the teams with juicy enough assets to land him (Philly, Boston, and Orlando) probably wouldn’t deal for a guy that would leave after a year anyway. If the teams that Love wants to go (GS, CHI) want him, they better be able to package up some key pieces. If I’m the Wolves, I don’t even consider a trade from GS unless it looks like this: Thompson or Barnes, Lee, and two future unprotected first rounders for Love and either Barea or Bud. And from CHI, they’d need to put up Butler or Mirotic, Gibson, Boozer, and a protected future 1st rounder for Love, DC and Barea/Bud before I’d even give them the time of day.

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