Pek Gets Five, Love Got Four, So Do The Timberwolves Get Some Angst?

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Helicopters presumably are hovering over Kevin Love at this moment, “Goodfellas”-style, anticipating some sort of cut-and-run, Bronco-chase reaction to the Minnesota Timberwolves’ re-signing Wednesday of center Nikola Pekovic.

Pekovic, you should know, reportedly received a deal worth $60 million over five years. Which, rather famously, is one more year than the extension to which the Wolves signed Love in January 2012. Since-fired exec David Kahn was adamant in not using the designated-player mechanism available to a player coming off his rookie deal to bump Love’s deal (four years, $61 million) to five years. The All-Star power forward took that as a slight, on top of a pure business setback.

Instantly, the opt-out that Love did get built into the extension after the 2014-15 season was seen throughout the NBA as his escape hatch from an unhappy work situation. It’s a perception that continued right through the spring after Love made some comments in a Yahoo! story suggesting he was less than a happy Wolves camper.

So when Flip Saunders, Kahn’s replacement, talked with reporters Wednesday about the Pekovic signing, he was asked about the potential that Love might feel neglected anew, what with the big man next to him – who trails Love in All-Star selections, 2-0, and in Olympic gold, 1-0 – getting a guarantee until the summer of 2018.

“We talked about a lot of things,” Saunders said of his recent conversations with Love. “What I’ve been impressed about Kevin Love, more than anything, Kevin wants to win. As we talked about Pek, he just said, ‘You have to do what you have to do.’

“I think he really understands and he believes that I don’t have a certain way I’m going to do things. I don’t know what’s been done in the past – I really don’t care. So as he said, we’re just moving forward, both on the basketball court and every other thing.”

The Wolves do have that to explain any inconsistency in negotiating tactics. Kahn was Kahn, with whom Love did not click for a variety of reasons, and he’s gone now. As a restricted free agent, Pekovic didn’t have much leverage but then, coming off his rookie deal, neither did Love.

Also, there’s nothing to prevent Love and the Wolves locking the double-double machine in for five seasons with his next extension. Nothing either now, frankly, from the Wolves — with owner Glen Taylor’s needed blessing, of course — using the designated-player slot on Ricky Rubio so that all their main guys are together for the long term.

It might also help sell Love that his agent, Jeff Schwartz, happens to be Pekovic’s guy too. It wouldn’t be cool if Schwartz, in a couple of years, were to turn around and point to the Pekovic deal as a reason for Love’s opt-out exit.

“This signing of Pek,” Saunders said, “will in no way hinder anything having to do with Ricky down the road or with Kevin Love. … This league has proven you have to have, quote-unquote, three star-type players. Three players at their respective positions who are going to be considered probably in the top five in the league.”

As for Love, who is expected to return with a vengeance this fall to delete bad mojo of his 2012-13 lost to a twice-broken hand, Saunders said his inside-outside threat is hitting the offseason hard.

“He’s looking to come in at about the same weight as he did when he had his big breakout year,” Saunders said, saying Love is at 242 now. “He’s doing a lot of cross training. Yoga every day. Some other training, weights. … Shooting. I don’t think he’s over-wearing one part of his body out. He’s got a great attitude, he’s been very involved with both me in conversation and with our organization. I feel extremely confident that he’s showing some leadership.”

If he’s not, there’s always the helicopters. Or easier yet, Twitter.

42 Comments

  1. Neil Young says:

    @ Daniel: What?

    The problem here is that the Wolves are used to having good players whine and then leave to go somewhere else anyway. They got scared because of how good Love is, and, unlike most stupid teams who are not very good, realized the writing on the wall and decided no to waste the money on someone with California ties and a beach boy uncle who has threatened to bolt from this team since day 1. Rubio probably will be on the next flight to NY or LA, and Love will follow. So no, a budding top 10 center who is the size of a house and loves to push people around, plus actually enjoys being in MN because it reminds him of home is exactly worth that type of money.

    Name 5 centers that are any good, (Hibbert is the best all around, with Marc Gasol hot on heels but I love Noah, and Howard for obvious athletic freakness) and Pek is on the list or will be in the next 2 seasons. Watch him play

  2. Daniel says:

    Drago no superstar has won a championship alone they must have help not jordan & definitely not lebron and without key players and plays its not going to happen i know you watch miami win so i rest my case.

  3. Bernard says:

    I don’t think this guy is work 12M per season; just saying. KLove is without question the best player on that club and has more reason to be “disappointed”. There must be more to this story….

  4. Joshua Greenfarb says:

    Could this be a good prediction?

    2014 West Finals: OKC Thunder vs. Houston Rockets

    2014 East Finals: Indiana Pacers vs. New York Knicks

    2014 NBA Finals: OKC Thunder vs. Indiana Pacers

    2014 NBA Champion: OKC Thunder

  5. TTKIN says:

    Opt out clause and his home-town team having a butt-ton of cap-space (Lakers)? Man it wouldnt surprise me if he is the star the Lakers go after to face the franchise once Kobe is gone. I’d much rather have Love than Howard for sure.

    • Joshua Greenfarb says:

      I reckon the OKC Thunder are saving up to possibly sign Kevin Love in the future.

      Yeah, okay, they can’t or won’t spend as much as New York (the biggest market) teams, but they are sitting pretty. For this upcoming season, they won’t pay any taxes. They will be under the salary cap.

      Lakers, however, foolishly kept signing players; they’ll likely be knee-deep in luxury taxes AGAIN. They can’t spend as much as New York teams. They don’t have cap-space flexibility.

      Plus, Kevin Love would fit in perfectly with the young Thunder and former collegiate teammate, Russell Westbrook. He’s played with Russ and KD twice in international summer play as well.

      Kevin Love won’t EVER want to join a Laker franchise that is being ruined by Kobe Bryant. Lakers are a lottery team and will be for a LONG time. Love eventually will want to win a lot; thus, the Thunder would be a PERFECT fit for him.

      Unless Ken Perkins has a “good” season, they may release him (after this season) or re-sign him at a much lower price; thus, even more money they can free up for Kevin Love. They’ll likely be able to pay Love more than Minnesota or the Lakers can. But at this point, it’s not about the money; it’s about winning as much as possible, and the young Thunder will win tons of games in the short run and long run.

      If the Thunder does this within the next couple years or so, we are looking at an NBA dynasty with Championships galore. Chris Paul had his chance, but he screwed up and sold out. His career is done (as far as Championships are concerned). Let’s face it. The Clippers will likely get ousted in the first round AGAIN. I hope Kevin Love eventually joins the young Thunder (his career will be decorated with Championships). Plus, the Thunder will be extremely fun to watch; it’ll be like watching an NBA dream team. Thus, perfect business-wise for the entire NBA in the short run AND the long run.

  6. caloyski says:

    THIS SECTION ALSO SACKS–ALSO FOND OF DELETING COMMENTS!

  7. JDL says:

    Whats your favorite holiday food? Pekovic “MEAT”

  8. ryan says:

    making something out of nothing in this article

  9. Murt says:

    For the first time in a long, long, long time…I’m excited about the future of the T-Wolves! Move over Spurs/Thunder/Griz, here come the LOBOS!

  10. Nik says:

    It’s obnoxious to see the NBA media attempting to make drama involving Kevin Love. Obviously the intent of this is to get Kevin Love traded to a bigger-market team. Why would Love want to sign a lengthier contract with the Wolves when they’re still yet to prove to be anything (and this is coming from a Wolves fan)? How would signing their big man to an extension be any hit on Kevin Love? How’s about we just be happy for Minnesota for re-signing Pek? They’ve finally put together a studded cast for the season as a small market team, and if you can’t appreciate that…

  11. therealdeal says:

    kevin love to lakers tats all i got to say

  12. ROMMEL says:

    Love @ Miami….

  13. Luciano says:

    Is this the official NBA website or a high school gossip group?

    Different situation, different management, different reality.

    If the guy is a professional, he will continue to do his best, and when the time to renew comes, he will get what he deserves. Otherwise he is free to move around.

    Is that too difficult to grasp? Or do we have to act like teenagers forever?

  14. babalou17 says:

    A lot of you don’t understand that Kevin Love is not ticked off by money, what he has been complaining about the past couple of years is how this organization, the Wolves, have not made consistent moves to get quality players. He has been aggravated by constant locker room change. Since he has been a wolf, he has been seeing different faces almost complete roster changes every year. With him, he wants to establish an identity that he is in a winning team but understands it doesn’t take one man to accomplish this. I’m pretty sure he is happy where this team is at now. He has an arguably a top 5 center in the league locked up for the next 5 years. A hot shooting SG locked up for the next 3 years. A potentially top guard in Rubio who he has established a great rapport with. The bane to his existence in a Wolves uniform has been booted out (The Wrath of King Kahn) and this team is starting to develop an actual identity. It all starts with a core, in this case you’ve got Love Pek Rubio and Martin. They’ve got solid backups in Barea, Shved, Dante Cunningham, Derrick Williams, Corey Brewer, etc. The only way Love is leaving in the near future is if they still don’t find success next season. It it is pivotal that they make the playoffs, otherwise we might see not only Love leave, but Rubio signing with a different te

  15. Praice says:

    Totally agree with Rocket33, Wayne .. better stop writing if you don´t have anything interesting to say.

  16. GilBangs says:

    love pekovic, great news he is resigned. kinda sad author who is just trying to kick up where there isnt any. go write about the kardashians or something

  17. wayne says:

    who wrote this article?

    kevin love- 4 years, 61 million = 15.25 million per year

    Nikola Pekovic- 5 years, 60 million = 12 million per year.

    I would much rather make 1 million more and save 1 year of work.

    • klove says:

      exactly!

    • kellogs says:

      totally agree with the math, but i think for him it might be that the number of years signifies the team’s commitment to him, not so much about the money. But with Kahn gone, I think things are gon be much smoother. We going to the playoffs baby!!

  18. Elesa says:

    I Love Love. Lol xD. I just hope he gets to a team where he can settle down and win. Arguably, he is the best Power Forward in the league when healthy… He can rebound, shoot threes and from mid range, play with his back to the basket, post up and play defense. He’s a great player.

    One place I’d love to see him go is OKC. A Westbrook – Love combo would be a sight to see again after UCLA.

  19. Quim says:

    My take on this, Love to the Rockets!

  20. Charlie Brown says:

    I dont understand why Kevin Love would be upset that minnesota is bringing in a quality center for him to play alongside for 5 years or maybe more. I think he would have been more upset if they didnt resign Pekovic.

  21. Drago says:

    Love is a great player who can do a loot of things but he is a worker not a natural like Garnet back in the day he is more of a Novicki type but he doesn’t have the smoth moves or the fadeaway.He should be happy Pecovic signed because he can have the help he needs to make the most of his strenth’s.They are a good duo probably the best in the NBA at their best game.With Rubio they can have a longterm playoff team and a future contender IMO.They do need a real superstar to win it all cause i don’t see them beating a Miami or San Antonio level team even if they keep all their best players and they improwe a loot.To win a championship you need a mega talent that dominates on his position against any player od double team or triple team and they don’t have that and it’s hard to come by.Love is not that player.

  22. J says:

    it’ll be fine

  23. josh says:

    I would have signed Love for just one year contracts. His body is injury prone. The sooner organisations like the Bulls realise that max contracts need to go to not just superstars but superstars who play the whole season like the Heat understand the better for them!

  24. Captain232420 says:

    Got a great idea, lets play basketball and leave the contract musings to the agents. That’s what they’re hired for.

  25. QJ says:

    Kevin Love to the Lakers!!!!!

  26. Roy says:

    I’m excited for the Wolves this season, if everyone is healthy they can make the play offs. They have the talent they just need to glue it all together!

  27. Joseph_03 says:

    I am a big Kevin Love fan, but still convinced that the Wolves are not the right team for him at this moment. Since the Wolves are committing towards the direction of making having a Pekovic, Rubio and Love trio, it makes me wonder just how far that team can go? Don’t get me wrong, it is a good core but I have a firm belief that it will just be like the one formed by the Hawks a few years back when it had Smith, Johnson and Horford. They make the playoffs consistently then get 50 wins and make the second round.

    • Johnny boy says:

      For the wolves, that annual return trip to the playoffs is already good. KLove has never made it there. Let’s be real, they are long ways off being a legit contender. But that’s exactly why they locked them all to long deals, to get to the point when they are good enough to be a regular playoffs challenger. One step at a time, you can’t rush everything.

  28. Oakley34BLAM says:

    Love ought to be happy (and I have no reason to believe he isn’t) that the wolves did what it took to put a significant piece next to him for the remainder of his contract. Pek-Love gives them a nice inside out combo without sacrificing any rebounding. Also, barring debilitating injury, Love’s shorter contract allows him to bolt, and get paid, a year earlier if he feels so inclined. And if injury/security is the concern with a shorter contract then who is to say he wouldn’t be injured in the fifth year of the deal anyway…leaving him in a bad position to negotiate.

    I don’t understand the fascination with that fifth year (unless it is a player option) when it comes to contract length of A+ talent. I can understand some players trying for the security when they don’t have the promise of a long career (based on talent not injury), but for the cream of the NBA I think there is more value in flexibility in today’s league.

    • jOLAN says:

      Kevin Love is the best player on that team, but they don’t treat him like it. No matter what that organization says or what Kevin says, he is pissed about that 4 year contract. 5 years i always better then 4, especially in that point of his life. he had just finished an amazing season, and they tell him he isnt worth 5 years, I wouldnt be surprised if he asks out, he wants to be the main man on a team. not share it with two younger guys.

      • Rocket33 says:

        Kevin Love will have been paid more over 4 years than Pekovic will get over 5 years so how was he mistreated? If Pekovic got 5 years at the same rate as Love then maybe he could question it. But as the article says, Love’s deal was made with David Kahn and not Flip Saunders so he can’t complain to Flip anyway.

        So unless Love is a 5 year old child I don’t think the Pekovic deal will bother him in any way. I actually think this piece has been written to try and bring up a problem that most likely doesn’t exist.

      • Ro says:

        Exactly jOLAN, Love’s deal was made when Kahn was in charge. Pek’s was made now with Flip. The article written when Pek signed stated that Flip has been rebuilding the relationship between KLove and the Wolves. So when Love can sign another extension, if he’s healthy and still dominant, he’ll get his max.
        Why was this article even written? I love Steve’s writing but this is summer time nothing to write about, stuff

      • Ro says:

        And agreeing with you Rocket33 as well!!

      • caloyski says:

        Let’s just say Pekovic has a good Manager who really negotiates well–period!

    • B Radd says:

      Theres something about this team that just ain’t right. I feel the need to move on with Pek and trade Love for someone the likes of The Big Ticket! Nerlens Noel would be a great pair up with young Ricky. Still waiting for Derrick Williams to step up or busts, not quite sure why his game is like a light switch…