Posted December 11, 2012

Love vents about Timberwolves owner, GM over contract, direction of team

Ben Golliver, David Kahn, Glen Taylor, Kevin Love, Minnesota Timberwolves
Kevin Love

Kevin Love has an opt-out clause following the 2014-15 season. (David Sherman/NBAE via Getty Images)

By Ben Golliver

Kevin Love’s public campaign against Timberwolves ownership and management continues nearly a year after he was forced to settle for a four-year contract extension after the five-year version that he had clearly earned and preferred was not offered.

Yahoo! Sports reports Love’s version of events, which includes bitterness toward owner Glen Taylor for not perceiving him as a “star” and questions for GM David Kahn regarding his professionalism and ability to build a contender.

“I don’t know who labels people stars, but even [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.”

No, Kevin Love isn’t over Taylor and GM David Kahn refusing him what he had earned. He isn’t over Kahn marching into the trainer’s room after a loss and thrusting a contract offer sheet into his hands. Where else does it work that way in the NBA? “I’m not the one to always follow professional protocol — but I do know what it is, even at 24 years old,” Love says.

“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?”

Love expressed frustrations immediately after signing a four-year deal that includes an opt-out following the 2014-15 season. It was hard to blame him. He was among the highest achievers on a rookie deal in recent years and he was the clear franchise guy for the Timberwolves. No-brainer five-year extensions were given out to both Bulls guard Derrick Rose and Thunder guard Russell Westbrook. Love was entitled to perceive Minnesota’s offer to him as an insult, a miscalculation and a red flag. The Timberwolves need him far more than he needs the Timberwolves and they conducted business as if the opposite was true. That should stick in his craw.

That was then and the initial sting has passed. The Timberwolves are currently 9-9 despite loads of injuries, including a broken hand for Love, and should remain in contention for a playoff spot. That’s good news for Minnesota, who hasn’t been to the playoffs since 2004, but it’s understandable that Love, who is averaging 21.2 points and 14.2 rebounds since his return from injury, might already be eyeing greener pastures around the league. He surely understands that it’s highly unlikely the Timberwolves will advance out of the first round, and he’s also fully aware that he’s expressed frustration with the roster around him for years (here in 2010, here in 2011) and yet the Timberwolves are still light years away from being true postseason players.

Everything Love says is understandable and justifiable. The only question: Why is he expressing these frustrations now, so long after he signed his contract and so soon before Ricky Rubio is set to return? Hell, even Kobe Bryant stands by Jim Buss in public. Certainly, hard feelings like this exist around the league, but they are rarely voiced this clearly and at this length. Taylor and Kahn wouldn’t be wrong to take offense at reading these statements in public. What is there to gain by publicly questioning management and ownership right now?

The most obvious answer, aside from simply letting off steam, is that Love is laying the groundwork for what could be a messy exit via trade or free agency. Players are often maligned when they move from a franchise that drafted them to another stop in a bigger market or with a better cast of talent. By getting his message out, consistently and repeatedly over the years, he removes any element of surprise from the equation. Anyone who gets angry if things turn ugly in 2014 or 2015 will only have himself to blame for not paying attention; Love will be able to point to years worth of interviews and, unlike Dwight Howard, be able to say that he had stuck to his guns throughout and that it’s time to pursue a different situation. It’s hard to begrudge a player, even one making tens of millions of dollars, with his list of concerns.

Venting so far in advance of impending free agency could alienate fans. But Love is so committed to the sport that his dedication to his craft and work ethic on the court can never be questioned. As long as he’s going hard and doing his job, he will be shielded from a majority of the criticism heaped on disgruntled athletes. He’s got his talking points down pat: no commitment to winning, unprofessional conduct and an unfair contract offer. That’s a case compelling enough to convince a good chunk of observers that he’s not an egotistical diva.

The clock is definitely ticking on this one, but it’s still too early to get worked up about it. This is a problem for another day — another two years, really — but it’s one that seems borne of irreconcilable differences that only an unexpected rush of big winning, or perhaps a change in management, could resolve.

21 comments
Joel7
Joel7

The best thing about this article, It show the Clippers fans having Owner Sterling; you could do worse...!

chromaticarts
chromaticarts

Ex- T-wolves fan here, who had to endure following this rag-tag franchise while growing up in Minne. Taylor is a schmuck, plain and simple, hiding behind his 'Minnesota Nice' facade. This is just the latest boneheaded move in a long line of them. Taylor is such a genius that he saw so much greatness in Joe Smith that he tried to screw with the league, and ended up losing 3 number 1 picks! Too bad for Love and Rubio that they have to waste their time with the Timber Mutts!

P0is0nedKoolA1
P0is0nedKoolA1

I'm guessing that the writer of this piece is just baiting us and is smarter than he's portraying with this write-up. Glen Taylor walked in with a contract after a loss!!! What else do you need to know about this tacky GM?!!??! 

 

Does the writer, or anyone, believe that the antics of Glen Taylor began and ended with the contract situation? I can only imagine the chaos in that place and feel sorry for everyone the TWolves. Kevin Love is a top 5 player who despite years of a mediocre team continued to put up great numbers and is a great face for a franchise that hasn't accomplished much. This is the same team that drafted Flynn, Rubio, signed Ridnour then Barrea! Just a total joke. 

 

Here's hoping my Knicks pick up Love in a few years and thank you to Glen Taylor for the chance!  

Sulkaman
Sulkaman

You and Kyrie are good friends. We'd love to have you on this young and exciting Cavs team.  The future is bright!

nicholaswmnelson
nicholaswmnelson

Apparently chasing Kevin Garnett off wasn't bad enough for the Wolves, now they do it with Love, too. Has to be hard to be a Minnesota fan these days.

TUP-TUP's MOM
TUP-TUP's MOM

Kevin, the next time the Owner holds your contract over your head, rip it up and walk out !! the McDonald's in my neighborhood is hiring !!

MikeMo34
MikeMo34

Kahn is the worst GM in the league.  He has no clue how to deal with players and thinks he has to make tons of deals to look like he's doing his job when he's really just going in circles.  Looks like Kevin isn't getting fooled.  I'm shocked Kahn has lasted this long, but now I'm starting to understand from what Kevin said about the owner. 

M as in Mancy
M as in Mancy

"Forced to settle for a 4-year contract extension..." I'm not sure what that means. Were Taylor and Kahn holding his dog over an alligator pit? Last time I checked he could have pulled a Jeremy Lin and gone to restricted free agency. If it went to arbitration, he would win because the Wolves would overpay in pirate coins and gold chalices just to keep him, and if the state of Minnesota has run of gold, he'll go to a less-poorly run franchise.

 

I love his game though. As Chuck would say: "Minny is turrble" and he knew what he was getting into when he re-signed...

EricJohn
EricJohn

What happened around here is that it snowed big time for the first time in the last two years.  He got a taste of MN winter and Cali boy didn't like it.

NBA.........  the first  league to collapse under the weight of it's self inflated contracts, ego, importance and hype.

 

Thank you Howie Stern. (no relation to Howard Stern)

B B
B B

Love is an all star caliber play from here on out... he is a star....  only thing he's white, not black, so people have a hard time accepting that.

samtrx
samtrx

Must be hard to be on this guys team the way he constantly whines. He like a girl.

jM.D.
jM.D.

so long as he cannot defend, he will not be labeled as a star. because stars can do it all.

Marcus1
Marcus1

 @M as in Mancy A four year extension is the most Love could have gotten as a restricted free agent. 

JonathanPerry
JonathanPerry

 @jM.D. Yeah, cause 14.2 rebounds a game is not a defensive stat.  Idiot.

eddie577
eddie577

You mean Steve Nash, Amare Stoudamire, Derrick Rose and Carmelo are not stars? Not of those guys can defend worth a darn.

JoeCabot
JoeCabot

 @jM.D. Good one!   Not much defense being played in the NBA.  By the stars or anyone else.

M as in Mancy
M as in Mancy

 @Marcus1  

If the Wolves are as dysfunctional as he says, I wouldn't have signed and put them in the situation to match whatever another team offers. He made his own bed by signing