Love Liking Wolves’ Summer Moves

 

Not so long ago, Kevin Love didn’t seem like the happiest of campers regarding his whereabouts, present or future, with the Timberwolves of Minnesota.

Nothing against the Land of 10,000 Lakes, but Love was weary of playing for the Franchise of 10,000 Mistakes

In his five NBA seasons, Minnesota had lost nearly 74 percent of its games (104-290). He was the only member of Team USA this summer (newbie Anthony Davis excepted) who never has tasted the playoffs. The Wolves roster last season still looked like a halfway house for players of doomed potential. And Love wasn’t thrilled when owner Glen Taylor and basketball president David Kahn played hardball and held fast to a four- rather than five-year contract extension. That early-out after three years started looking good almost immediately.

But Love’s spirits clearly seemed buoyed Tuesday by his experiences at the London Olympics and some time away from the Wolves’ 2011-12 grind. He met with some Twin Cities media types sporting a fancy bauble around his neck and some sincere optimism for a team that largely has been made over. Jerry Zgoda of the Minneapolis Star Tribune wrote:

On Tuesday, he showed off his Olympic gold medal at a summer-ending Target Center news conference and declared himself pleased with management’s moves that included adding veteran Brandon Roy, Andrei Kirilenko, Lou Amundson as well as Greg Stiemsma and Alexey Shved while letting Michael Beasley, Anthony Randolph, Darko Milicic and others go.

“There’s definitely a different feel going into the locker room, definitely a different feel just being down there playing with those guys,” said Love, who arrived back in the Twin Cities from Southern California late last week. “I’m really excited, I’m really excited about this team. … I think we’ve definitely added value to this team. I think the locker room is going to be great. I think the players we have on this team can make an immediate impact.”


Love can thank coach Rick Adelman for much of the overhaul – the veteran coach, who has known the 6-foot-10 power forward for years from their shared time living in Portland, was precise after his first season with the Wolves (26-40) about changes that needed to be made.

Adelman isn’t wasting any time this deep into his career building for some distant future. Both he and Love saw enough in Minnesota’s 22-21 record – before the 4-19 skid to the finish triggered by Ricky Rubio’s blown knee ligaments – to target a postseason berth as a legitimate and, frankly, mandatory goal.

Rubio is slated to be back in action sometime around the holidays and the other roster enhancements should make it possible for the Wolves to stay afloat while waiting. In particular, Love raved Tuesday about center Nikola Pekovic, who has shed weight, cut body fat and added muscle, making him leaner and still as mean underneath.

Then there’s Roy, Kirilenko, Shved, a recommitted Derrick Williams and the rest…

“A lot of people got on me and said, ‘How’s Kevin Love able say the Timberwolves are going to make the playoffs?”’ he said. “Why wouldn’t I say that? I have faith in this team, I have faith in what we’ve done this offseason. I do think we have a great shot to make the playoffs. If anybody else says otherwise … I think we have to go out there and prove what we’re made of. It was definitely a tremendous summer for me, a tremendous summer for our team.”

Love was starting to sound downright Minnesotan, in the tradition of Joe Mauer, Kirby Puckett and Jesse Ventura. He even went next door to Target Field Wednesday to throw out the first pitch at a Twins matinee and hoped to take a few batting-practice cuts.

Love played organized baseball into his early teens but he knew the dangers inherent when dabbling in a secondary sport.

“You don’t want to screw that up and end up on Youtube or be a viral video sensation,”said Love. “I haven’t thrown a baseball in eight, nine years. I just hope I don’t throw it over the catcher’s head or I don’t leave it five feet short.”

Look at it this way, Kev: Better to be embarrassed on a pitcher’s mound now than on a basketball court anymore.

10 Comments

  1. I’m excited! Everyone should be. Kevin Love is right!

  2. Patrickmarc says:

    Play-off for Wolves, this year or next one!
    I hope Rubio and Roy will be ready.
    This team will give us excitment

  3. mike says:

    hell with LA, this is the real winning team, with this strong starting kine-up, we just need 3 solid help from of the bench, it has perfect chemistry, plus in my mind the most brilliant coach, remember our history my friends, the last time LA packed itself with superstars. they just lost 5-0 (game 2 being a fluke) against who would eventualy then becom 2004 worls champion the detroit pistons, who at that time had only raheed wallace as their all star player, who even did it while in portland

  4. ko0kie says:

    I’m pretty curious how brandon roy is gonna perform over a full season.. and what will bring the russians to the team? but we have to wait until rubio is back to see the full potential of this team. it’s gonna be an exciting season for the wolves.. they are gonna fight for that 7, 8th spot in the west.. thats for sure.

  5. charles says:

    this team has alot of potential, but alot of IF AND ONLY IF situations. They will go to the playoffs IF AND ONLY IF Roy is at least 90% of his old self, Rubio is back quickly and doesn’t miss a beat, Love is dominant as usual, Pek is significantly improved, and AK47 has not lost much in his game…..if all of that is true, they will be in teh playoffs…but at some point you have to say, that is one long domino chain!

    • dattebayo says:

      Charles clearly has not seen the Wolves play last season. This team is a lock for the playoffs, without question and without ifs. I really doubt they will suffer the same amount of injuries as last season, which was the only reason the Wolves did not make the playoffs.
      Last year the Wolves basically had 1 good Center, because Darko showed no effort. Pekovic is a beast down low and there are few players in the league who can matchup with him. He and Love might both average double-doubles for the season. Stiemsa is a good defender and shotblocker who got a lot of experience in Boston, he will be a good backup. With Kirilenko the Wolves finally have a SF with solid defensive skills to at least bother the Durants, James and Anthonys in the league and please, he has not lost his game (did you even see the Olympics). Last year Love was the best spotup shooter which should tell you how poorly Johnson, Williams, Tolliver and Webster shot the ball when they had open looks. This year they have Shved, Buddinger and Roy along with Ridnour and Love. The Wolves will be a better team from the perimeter and that will help open up the lanes for Barea to drive and score and Rubio to do his thing when he comes back. I don’t think Kirilenko and Roy need to be allstars for the Wolves to make the playoffs and I doubt they can be, but Kirilenko is an upgrade over Johnson in every aspect and Roy can still shoot.

  6. Hunter says:

    This team could be a darkhorse.

    • I agree…I love what this franchise have put together…they have a pretty solid starting 5…but unfortunately for them…the lakers are gonna win the title the next 3-5 years or so…so yea

      • dattebayo says:

        Of course, the Lakers will win 5 straight and they will do it even without Kobe and Nash who will only play two more years, probably also without Pau, who will be amnestied when Kobe retires and without Howard, who might not resign in L.A. . And clearly the Lakers will win 5 straight, because thats what always happens in the NBA, teams winning 5 straight titles…

        Get to the Conference Finals first and try to beat the Thunder, that will be hard enough for the oldest starting five in the league.

      • Simdawg says:

        U need to brush up on the amnesty rules mate.