In the wake of Kevin Love saying exactly what we expected him to say, my first thought was…
Okay finally, now we can move on.
Through all of this K-love drama since the days of the Woj interview, I tried to downplay the “Kevin want’s out” rumors. The assertion of the franchise has always been that the Timberwolves were committed to building around Kevin Love in the direction of resigning him to, an other-worldly, lucrative deal. The bird years that Kevin Love has amassed with the Twolves would allow them to offer a richer deal than anyone else, come the end of next season. I figured I’d wait until I heard directly from K-love or the Wolves that he wanted out.
Now, I understand; there is no book of ethics on how a player is supposed to deal with revealing they want out of a professional sports franchise. At least if there is one, I haven’t read it.
But really, Kevin?
This is how you do us?
There are good and bad ways to leave a job, and I don’t think this is good.
I don’t know about you all, but I for one am significantly bothered by the way that this guy works with the media. First he pulled the Woj interview, which, while I agreed with most of what he said, was tactless. Talk to the team! Don’t go straight to the media!
Now when I go on a rant, I try to see multiple sides of the issue. I think about what lead to this moment, and what can be done to move forward.
After that first comment, I think this: Communication is a two way street. There have to be opportunities for people, individuals, or members of an organization, to share their thoughts if they are going to work together. In this case, I think the “Kahn” -struction of the Timberwolves deeply scarred Kevin Love’s ability to do that. He felt disrespected when Kahn didn’t give him the max deal.
Mostly, I understand why he felt disrespected. He has, and had at that time, produced historic numbers and worked incredibly hard to define his game, then re-define it, and now re-define it again. In many ways, that looks like a franchise player. And in Minnesota, with the draft luck the Wolves have had, it is remarkably difficult to get plus level talent to come play basketball in Minnesota, so possible franchise players have to be locked up in a big way.
In his work ethic, Kevin has always been the consummate professional, putting in the work to bring his game to the next rung of the ladder. He’s tried to show support for the franchise and played with great fire and intensity. He’s added to his game in ways I would have never expected.
In no way could I bet that Kevin Love will come back next year without making more improvements to his game.
But then this question stands out: Is he a leader?
Many of us Twolves fans have read the translated interview in which Ricky Rubio brings up the question of weather or not Kevin Love is a leader. Ricky wasn’t very convinced by Kevin Love’s leadership, but didn’t really take any responsibility either shoving the “leader” role off on Kevin Martin. (Somebody, just take the reigns already!)
Truth is, Kevin Love has not shown that he, like so many other NBA superstars, can consistently go big in the big time. We see him catch a hot streak, of go off for big first halves. We’ve seen him draw fouls and hit some clutch shots down the stretch, but we don’t see him put the team on his back in the fourth quarter and close out a game, with ice, cold, assassin’s blood. Without him being able to be a force on defense, are Kevin Love’s skills only capable of playing second fiddle?
So what is Kevin Love’s role on a franchise? Is he a “Pippen” for a “Jordan”? Or can he be a “Duncan” that needs to jell with a “Tony and Manu”? I don’t think there’s a good comparison. Could it be a blessing in disguise if Kevin Love leaves town? In order to keep him we’d have to give him first fiddle money. If he’s a offensive second fiddle and a defensive liability, I don’t think he can be a “Duncan”.
So now after so many years of missing the playoffs as a number one option, it seems clear that Kevin Love want’s to go somewhere else and play second fiddle so he can win a championship.
This sounds like what Kevin Garnett did when he went to Boston. But, KG was a world class defender. He could play a very focused and active role as the leader of a defense. With proper offensive help from his Celtic three headed monster friends, KG was able to hyper focus on leading the defense, being an emotional leader, and doing what he had to do to help his team win.
I wonder what will happen when K-love tries to do this. Will his offensive wizardry be able to team up with another star player? Can he play as a number two option?
I find it hard to believe that he wouldn’t contribute majorly and be a force in helping a team make the jump from playoff talent, to Championship contender. I look at the fact that Kevin Love produces so much without a lot of offense drawn up for him. He can get offensive rebound put backs and now has developed into a top level passer in the outlet and half court games. He can also get good looks working in the post.
The question I come up with now, is who was the last superstar player who was only decent at defense. Every one I can think of has at least one great defensive quality, and unless you count defensive rebounding, Kevin Love has none.
What bothers me the most about this is that, if Kevin Love really didn’t want to be around, he didn’t seem to communicate that to the Wolves front office. Seems to me like the Wolves front office still doesn’t really take it seriously, which is silly. Now, Kevin Love has been integrated into the preliminary designs for the renovated Target Center, was deeply involved in the Timberwolves pairing up with the Mayo Clinic, and now is asserting that he doesn’t want to even consider re-signing with the wolves? Either, Kevin Love can’t communicate, or he’s conflicted. Probably both.
I have to ask: is this Wolves organization to blame? Is the front office/ownership culture so broken that they can’t even communicate effectively with their star player? I even look at the way Flip Saunders talked about Gorgui Dieng and Shabazz Muhammad after last years draft. It seems like there is a busted cog in the communication inside this franchise. Flip thought he got two players who could immediately contribute. That’s what he said they would do. Instead, Adelman didn’t play them at all before Gorgui was forced into action. That’s a odd miscommunication between two guys who claimed to be working together.
To say it bluntly, the Wolves are out of options. Unless their lottery luck vaults them into the top three pick tonight, they better be open and listening to trade talks regarding Kevin Love.
It baffles me how Glen Taylor could say that the Timberwolves will not trade Kevin Love before the draft. After the draft there is vastly less value for trading Kevin. Sounds like Glen thinks that a little extra bird money on a contract will keep Love happy. Everything I’ve seen as a fan, is that wasn’t the issue. Kevin wasn’t pissed he didn’t get paid more, he just felt like he got disrespected. By the end of tonight we will see if the Wolves seriously have to bite the bullet. If they can luck into Andrew Wiggins or Jabari Parker, possibly they can try to make a playoff push and then take their chances with Love leaving or staying.
But Flip says, all they are focused on doing is making the team better. I hope he’s thinking in the longterm because this fan base is tired. If Love gets lost with nothing in return, and the wolves can’t draft another legit star-potential player … that sounds like the beginning of another gloomy decade of Minnesota basketball.
Here’s to hoping for lotto luck, and fooling around with the NBA trade machine!
I’ll put up my draft thoughts up in the coming days, once the order is set. Possible Kevin Love trades make the draft talent evaluating process much more interesting.