Love wisely takes control of own destiny

By Sekou Smith, NBA.com


VIDEO: The Starters weigh in on the Kevin Love rumors

HANG TIME HEADQUARTERS — Be mad at Kevin Love all you want. Slap the head off of that bobble-head if it makes you feel better.

But understand this: He’s doing the right thing, forcing his way out of a tough situation in Minnesota. Love has already let the Timberwolves know that he will test the market, meaning that he intends to become an unrestricted free agent in the summer of 2015.

And that means the Timberwolves need to ask themselves if it makes more sense to waste the next few months trying to change Love’s mind or to spend the next few weeks sorting out the best trade option and getting something rather than nothing for the face of their franchise.

Survey the list of superstar and even All-Star talents in recent seasons who have decided they wanted to work elsewhere, and almost to a man each and every one of them found a way out, no matter how ugly the fallout. Carmelo Anthony in Denver. Chris Paul in New Orleans. Dwight Howard in Orlando. Deron Williams in Utah (the Jazz jettisoned him before things got ugly). When a star wants a new destination in this day and age, dating back to LeBron James and his departure from Cleveland, it’s difficult to keep him in the fold.

The Los Angeles Lakers remain one of the only teams to stare down its franchise player, Kobe Bryant, and not buckle to a trade demand (real, admitted to and or imagined)/request for an exit in some shape, form or fashion. Keep in mind they were working with an armored truck worth of cash, a rich championship history and freedom to manipulate the situation in whatever way Bryant wanted as part of their fool-proof recruiting pitch.

Love is in a completely different place in his career. He’s yet to sniff the aroma of the playoffs after six seasons in the NBA. The fact that he’s had enough in Minnesota, where the Timberwolves have been unable to surround him with the supporting pieces necessary to reach the playoffs in the rugged Western Conference, should surprise no one.

But this isn’t about Love’s exit strategy or even what a downtrodden Timberwolves franchise is going to do in the event that they have to part ways with a bonafide superstar (owner Glen Taylor and front office boss Flip Saunders, it’s your move). This is about the fact that Love recognizes that it’s now or never if he wants to graduate from that short list of first-line stars who haven’t dipped their toes in the postseason waters.

Love is wise to take control of his own destiny and write the next chapter or two of his legacy on his own terms. Whichever route the Timberwolves decide to take, he’ll have plenty of suitors willing to wait out the process in an attempt to add him to their mix.

Even more intriguing for some of those interested parties — the Golden State Warriors, Chicago Bulls, New York Knicks, Boston Celtics and Lakers headline the long list — is whether Love is slated as the No. 1 or No. 2 option in the future. Whatever their designations, a Love-Steph Curry-Klay Thompson trio with the Warriors and new coach Steve Kerr would be pure fireworks. He could be an absolute game changer alongside Anthony in New York and certainly with former MVP Derrick Rose and reigning Defensive Player of the Year Joakim Noah in Chicago under Tom Thibodeau. The possibilities are endless.

Still, for all of his well-deserved individual hype, there are some, a scant few NBA front office types, who repeatedly point out that Love’s spectacular numbers never did lift the Timberwolves to that next level.

Timberwolves point guard Ricky Rubio even questioned his leadership abilities in the wake of the news that Love wanted to explore his options elsewhere.

“Each situation is different, but this is a results league,” an Eastern Conference executive said. “And he’s never led a team to the postseason. Chris Bosh takes a beating from people, always has. But the one thing you couldn’t argue when he was in Toronto was that he could lead his team to the playoffs. I think Love is in a similar situation in that he could be the ideal No. 2 in the right place, the guy who serves as the linchpin in a championship situation. He’s that skilled and that talented. And he works his tail off. But he has to get to the playoffs for any of us to know for sure. And in this day and age of analytics, that one metric that still matters is whether or not you get there.”

It’s clear that making the playoffs, being a “winner,” is the one thing that matters to Love.

He wouldn’t have allowed himself to be placed in this current predicament, where his name will be run through the rumor mill relentlessly, if that wasn’t his No. 1 priority.


VIDEO: An all-too familiar sight: Kevin Love goes off but the Timberwolves lose

31 Comments

  1. patrickmarc says:

    Too much injuries for Wolves this year.
    They could be a best team next year, love should stay,
    they start to know each other, if Rubio start to score it could be nice for them..

  2. qqq says:

    Love is not a superstar in my eyes, hes hell of a rebounder and a good shooter. Love shouldnt be the nr 1 option on an offense, he should be a player that stretches the floor and rebounds, Love in goldenstade would be scary, but I hope my knicks can pull of a miracle and land him.

    And Love has his flaws, he is inefficient and a bad defender.

  3. Gorka says:

    I am a big Wolves fan from overseas. Do not trade Love unless the Wolves receive a star that wants to commit long term in return. Other teams see the Wolves an an easy, weak target. Flip has to show that the franchise has in fact a personality. I would never trade Love even at the expense of getting nothing in return. It’s worth to explore the long road that would take to convince him to stay rather than getting rid of him. Ditto.

  4. Markus Sweden says:

    Go to Boston?!?! Why? To stay in Minnesota is an better option. Golden state, bulls and New york are more intresting if he Wants to go the playoffs. Carmelo to Houston, Golden state, bulls or even Minnesota would also be intresting.

  5. SharpieOne says:

    I can’t see them trading him unless they’re able to get at least 2 first round picks from the top teams (1-5) that win the lottery or unless they can get another legitimate young all-star. However it seems like Love wants to test the market so I don’t see a team doing that, especially when they know there is a possibility that he could bolt after a year. These younger stars want to win championships but the don’t want to work hard for them. I see him finishing his contract with the Wolves and then “jumping ship” and navigating over to the Eastern Conference where there is a lot less competition. He’ll most likely try to get on board with a team like the Raptors, Wizards, Bulls, Bobcats, Knicks, Hawks or even Cavs (as long as Irving stays.) I’m also pretty sure Cousins (from the Kings) will do the same when his contract is up. The East is practically wide open. There is only two decent teams in the entire conference. Miami isn’t as good as they were a few years ago due to Wade being 1/3 of what he use to be and Indiana could possibly fall off completely next year. Other than them no one else is really that good. Brooklyn was already a step to slow this year and they’ll only get older. The Wizards showed some hope but their still a few pieces and 2-3 seasons away from being contenders (unless love goes there.) Toronto is ok but they’ll never beat the Pacers or Heat unless they can get some size. I honestly think it will be Toronto or D.C.

  6. realist says:

    Bulls or GSW are the best options for Love to be going to contender or push those teams into the top contenders, but Melo might end up going to Chicago as FA anyway cause NYK roster stinks.. If the Warriors can talk the Wolves into a trade for Lee and Barnes and most likely another piece, without being able to offer a high draft pick it will be the steal of this offseason.
    Curry, Thompson, Iggy, Love, Bogut. Can just imagine the 3s raining in with Kerr in charge..
    Bulls could possibly have, Rose, Butler, Melo, Gibson, Noah. Both scary looking starting lineups!

  7. big hoss says:

    love is the 3rd best player in the league and the wolves would be OUT THERE MINDS to trade him . If the wolves were in the east theyd be a 3 seed .

  8. H says:

    .PLEASE NO MORE dumb comments comparing Kevin Garnett to Kevin Love. The ONLY THING they have in common is their first name. The comment by a previous blogger about what Minnie did to KG was the same that they have done to Kevin Love is hilarious! First and foremost KG TOOK the Wolves to the playoffs and Kevin Love hasn’t! I am tired hearing that Kevin Love hasn’t been surrounded by talent. Great players attract other great players to play along side them. Kevin Love is a terrific NBA player BUT KEVIN LOVE is Robin playing next to Batman……PERIOD! Any team with a established superstar would want Kevin Love BUT PLEASE lets not put him in the same sentence as KG. I watched the T-Wolves for a long time and Kevin Love is just as responsible as the other four players on the court for the T-Wolves when they LOST a ton of close games. A TRUE superstar would have willed them to victory……by doing more than just scoring points….Going to miss KLove until we trade him…..

  9. MH says:

    Heat offer Bosh for Love!

    • iamironman says:

      No thanks. Heat is already small as it is. Don’t need a smaller front court.

  10. Kal says:

    Kevin Love in Boston playing with Rondo would be cool.

    I guess if he went to NYK, hypothetically Mello would come back and then that would be cool, too.

    I liked him with the Wolves, I liked that tragic small town Wolves team… but if he stays there, he’ll be wasting some of the best years of his playing career, as has happened to so many all-star verge-of-greatness players…

    In my perfect / dream world he’d end up moving to Toronto somehow (and Amir Johnson would be the Raps 6th Man, along with Vasquez)… and Raps would finally / overnight become serious title contenders… and he’d be a rockstar like Lowry, Derozen, Ross and Valancunias are at last starting to become here in hockeytown.

    also, in my perfect / dream world, fans get over themselves and the Raps resign Vince Carter & Chris Bosh and form a Raptors 20th anniversary reunion superteam of sorts pulling together all the major threads of their franchise history into one epic season of Raptorlove.

  11. DonL says:

    Curious how many more games they would have won with an ounce of defense from their supposed leader. I feel bad fpr the wolves fans and loathe the nba even more. Haven’t watch one second of playoff bball… When does college bball start again…

  12. Peter says:

    Really not a fan of this ‘new age’ mentality that guys like Love are showing.

    There are so many young guys like Love who have done nothing to prove they can lead a team, yet when push comes to shove instead of doing more to be a leader, they take the easy way out and try to jump ship to a contender.

    The reason why the Wolves haven’t been winning games is because Love is not the ‘superstar’ he’s advertised to be, He’s an inefficient scorer who gets a lot of points purely because he chucks a ton of inefficient shots (the typical 46% FG percentage is poor for a big) and he is one of the worst defensive bigs in the entire league.

    • Peter says:

      As an example, take as look at Patrick Ewing. He joined a Knicks team that (at the time) was one of the worst teams in the league, and within a couple of seasons he made them a playoff team. Ewing had some nice players around him (Mark Jackson, Charles Oakley, Anthony Mason, John Starks, etc) but he never had a star studded roster around him yet he led the Knicks in to the playoffs year after year…until the team traded him in his late 30s.

      These young guys like Love show no loyalty to the very teams that have invested so much time in to their development. He shouldn’t be looking to jump ship, he should be trying to improve his own game to he can help his team win.

      • steagl3 says:

        You have LeBron James (and to a lesser extent Carmelo Anthony) to thank for the “I’m not winning so I’m jumping ship” phenomenon in the NBA. Unfortunately, that is just the reality of the NBA today, and if players aren’t winning they are becoming stubborn, selfish, and defiant to their employers.

        On a lighter note, I remember back when Minnesota traded KG to Boston and it was easily the biggest trade of the year. KG had given his all to Minnesota but just couldn’t get it done with any combination of players that management threw at him. I think part of it was Danny Ainge wheeling and dealing, but another part of it was Minnesota feeling sorry for KG’s lack of playoff success and wanting him to succeed as a player and professional. You know the phrase, if you love something, let it go? I honestly feel they made the trade to allow KG a better opportunity at chasing the ring – and as we all know, the rest is history.

        In the same way, I can see Minnesota doing a trade for Love not only because they could get a lot of flexibility in draft picks and role players (and cash), but because this could be the catalyst Love needs to become a real winner in the NBA. They’ve invested a lot of time and money in him, as he has invested his time and effort for them. But obviously the business aspect of the relationship isn’t working out, as Love isn’t getting where he needs to get. I agree with Sekou Smith that he is wise to try his luck with another franchise. It’s nothing personal, it’s just about doing whatever makes the most sense for where you are at in your career. And Love is quickly approaching the pre-Celtics legacy of KG, with letdown after letdown. I can’t fault him for wanting out and I certainly can’t fault Minnesota for letting him go.

  13. Poon the Goon says:

    KLove is a beast. The league is garbage. Chase that dream boy. Individual glory in team sports is truly the optimal goal. Self serving society playing out in the small scale society which is the NBA. Ayy NBA… D’Z get at you today. Pooties.

    • Peter says:

      So you’re saying every player is better off just playing for their own stats rather than trying to help their team win, and then use those stats to force a trade to a winning team so you can ride the coattails of some REAL players in to real success?

  14. randomguy says:

    I love the comment that Bosh lead the Raptors into the playoffs. The East is a joke, the 7 and 8th seeds every year would be bottom feeders in the West.

  15. Jonas Mejia says:

    One possible option is to trade him for Detroits J Smith or Monroe, they are cheaper but great players….

  16. CLIPPER_BOY says:

    Picture this K. Love with the Bulls and a healthy D. Rose he doesnt have to be MVP status just healthy. That team would be effective.

  17. Dunder Mifflin says:

    I hope he goes EAST, Boston with rondo and green, Bulls with rose and noah or Knicks with Melo and Chandler might work with melo because both could spread the floor unlike stoudemire……sorry amar’e I hope you get back to 100% healthy and i can see you being that 18 points and 8 rebounds a game guy again

    • Peter says:

      No thanks..don’t want Love in Boston.

      Love will demand a max contract and is not worth that type of money. He doesn’t win you games, he just populates the box scores. Better to spend that contact on guys who will actually help you win.

  18. Anthony says:

    Love in GSW is great but if he really wants not only to be in the playoffs but experience how its like in the Conference Finals or Finals go to the East. Bulls will take you to possible ECF with Rose, Hinrich, Gibson, Boozer and Noah or go to HEAT via trade with BOSH and get to the FINALS in 2015. just sayin’

    • Peter says:

      Miami with Love instead of Bosh would be a worse team. Bosh can score on the perimeter or in the post, he has the length and height to defend both front court positions, and while he is not a great defender…he’s at least a good enough one to not be a liability.

      Miami with Lebron/Love would have the smallest front line in the NBA, and would be absolutely destroyed in the paint every night. Sure Love would improve their rebounding, but that’s about it. There defence and their offensive efficiency would drop through the floor.

      Love is more suited to a team that already has a big, defensive minded centre who can protect the paint…but who desperately needs a big man who can provide offense and stretch the floor. The bulls admittedly would be a good fit, through I question how much Love offers that they don’t already get from Boozer. Both are equally bad defenders, similarly good rebounders, and both can stretch the floor. The main difference is that Love has three point range, while Boozer is a capable scorer in the power.

  19. okc2014 says:

    OKC for Kevin Love? Sounds kinda good to me. But to lose Lamb and Ibaka? Ouch.

  20. amitpal says:

    I would love to see kevin love go to the thunder for serge ibaka, Jeremy lamb, and two first round picks this year. The thunder badly need a third star and post up option. And with Steven Adam emerging as a shot blocker and defensive center, serge ibaka isn’t as needed as he used to be. Dont get me wrong serge and Adam would make a great duo, but love and adams make a a great duo. Plus love is great friends with durant and player with westbrook at UCLA. The thunder need to make this happen.

    • SharpieOne says:

      You’re insane if you think the T-Wolves are going to trade love for a defensive player, a loser and pretty much 2 second round draft picks. The Thunder can’t make it happen. You can push around one sided deals on NBA.com but if any NBA GM were to even float the idea they would be laughed out of the league.

  21. Brainundrum says:

    Love,

    You are fantastic and I am happy to see you taking control of your own destiny by chasing that dream to play for a team who is ready to compete for a title. GOOD LUCK

  22. TheKush says:

    Smart move! The “Big O” talks about this the most and I agree with him. Basketball involves a lot of running on big bodies and I think the Timberwolves organization needs to change their approach to the business management of their team. Kevin Love is bonafide star that has the potential to be a legend in the game and the Timberwolves are doing the same thing to him as the did to Kevin Garnett!

    They should be aggressively looking to surround him with help instead they’re again in rebuilding mode that franchise sickens me clearly Rubio is not an all star in the NBA however he’d be a great backup never do I hear talks of the timberwolves aggressively trying to get Love some support! Somebody in management up there needs to get fired Kevin Love is someone you not only could build your team around but he’s good for marketing as well LBJ, KD, Chris Paul, Griffin Kevin Love, all great players which can bring a new audience to the game and here the timberwolves are again not sure how to build a successful franchise. It’s a sad day in Minnesota!

    • That guy. says:

      If i remember right they went aggressively went after Kevin martin to support Love. They also signed Pek a huge contract, a guy who Love respects and likes.
      Ultimately What Minnesota needs is a solid stretch four like Nikola Mirotic, or Ryan Anderson, which if they play their cards right could likely trade Love for Ryan Anderson, a salary cap stuffer and possibly a first round pick either this year or later. Then with with the extra 3-4 million saved go after shaun livingstone.

      • NewYorker says:

        Yes those guys got big contracts. but none of them are all star type players, let alone elite players. Big contracts doesn’t mean great players. Keep that in mind