The Minnesota Timberwolves have a decision to make that will have long term franchise ramifications. Do they give Kevin Love a contract extension for the maximum?
Kevin Love is a special player with special skills. But is he a franchise player? Watching him play and dominate the boards the way he does is amazing. He can shoot from distance. He works harder than most NBA players and he clearly hates losing. He is one of the top power forwards in the league. Having said all of that, he may never be a starter in the All Star game,and his team is 2 to 3 seasons after this one from being the 8 seed in the championship tournament. He is not a maximum contract player. Yeah, I said it!
As much as I like him and respect his talents and he’s the face of the franchise, the fact is, his unique skill set has helped the Wolves to a 32-132 record over the last 2 seasons. Is it his fault?… of course not! Coaching, GM decisions and lack of veteran leadership are at the root of their ineptness. However, the question is, should Kevin Love be a maximum contract player, not is David Kahn the worst GM in the league. (I’m certain we’ll address that in future blogs) I compare him to 2 other young players in the league on young, inexperienced teams and I see Derrick Rose and Kevin Durant. Over the last 2 years, these 2 maximum contract players have led the league in scoring (Durant twice) and been named MVP (Rose last season). These are individual awards but when you look at the success of their teams, it is clear that their individual talents have translated into WINS. They have both taken their teams deep into the playoffs and are both poised to make a title run this year. You can argue about the organizations being better and having better supporting players. Those would both be valid. But even if you believe that, there is simply no denying that these players are difference makers. In the NBA, the 4th quarter belongs to the superstars. These are the players that you give the ball to and ask to win the game. In my opinion, thats what franchise players are. Finishers! The wolves could have won at least 10 more games last year if they had a finisher. Heck they would be 2-0 this season, if they had one!
Kevin Love can be the second best( and highly paid) player on a winning team, or he can be the best and highest paid player on a losing team. Its really his choice. If he takes a little less than maximum, the team will have flexibility to pay players to stay or come to Minny. If he takes the Kevin Garnett approach, he will constantly be surrounded with second tier players and the franchise will be destined for middle of the road success in a couple of years. What if Michael Beasley finally gets it? He’s the most talented player on the team. If he finally gets the team thing ( he’s only 22 yrs old) then surely you want him on the team don’t you? What if Rubio is all that we hope he is? You would want to keep him longterm too, right? Mr. Love: Have you noticed what is going on in the league? Are you seeing that in this league you have to have 3 really good players to win?
What should the Wolves do? They should avoid being pressured by the fans and media to sign him now. He will be a restricted free agent at the end of the year. That means the wolves would be able to match any offers he gets from another team and they can pay him more because he’s their player. They should wait and see what the rest of the league thinks he’s worth and act accordingly. Will that upset him? Probably. But he will create a PR nightmare for the KLOVE brand if he argues that 11- 13 million per season for 5 seasons isn’t good enough and he needs 15 million. Besides, I’ve heard him say on numerous occasions that he’s all about winning. We shall see! I really like your game KLOVE but you are not a maximum contract player. Yeah, I said it!
Happy New Year Everyone!