Kevin Love Buying Into Timberwolves
Kevin Love knew the 2011-12 season would be a big moment in his career after achieving his best individual season last year. Being mindful of how this season would lay the foundation for his personal financial security as well as the future of the Minnesota Timberwolves, Love came into the season in the best shape of his life.
“It’s been great for me as far as the condensed scheduled, the abbreviated schedule has gone,” said Love. “It’s really paid dividends for me because my body is recovering faster and also I’m getting up and down the floor a lot more and just being able to play 40 minutes a night. It’s really been great for me.”
Helpful to Love this season has been the fact he has not had to do as much of the heavy lifting for Minnesota. While his statistics continue to go up, placing him among league leaders in multiple categories, Love has been able to relax and allow the game to come to him more when playing with a higher talent level amongst his teammates.
“I think with the addition of Rick Adelman and kind of changing the landscape there, it’s been great for us,” said Love. “Obviously, Ricky (Rubio) and Derrick (Williams) and kind of the guys that we have—the youth movement that we have—has been great for us. We just continue to put ourselves in positions to win basketball games and we’re at .500 right now. We’re looking to get better throughout the season.”
Due to both Love’s individual play and his team’s progression during the first half of the season, the Minnesota Timberwolves are legitimately in the playoff conversation. That fact helped solidify the team’s need to extend Love’s contract, making him a main part of the franchise for the near future. However, because the Timberwolves did not utilize their ability to lock him up for five years, choosing four with an opt-out after three for the player, many speculated Love was upset and would bolt town as soon as he could.
“I had never actually heard that I got mad, but I just said I wanted a third-year opt out just to see where the team was headed,” said Love. “Obviously, we’re headed in the right direction now. I was willing to do five years, but I’m looking at it as a four-year deal that can work into something bigger. I’m excited to see where this thing will head. Right now, we’re sitting at .500 and I’m pretty happy about it.”
Without question, the contract gives Love the opportunity to leave if the Timberwolves have not made significant process by that time. Yet, it’s also difficult to argue against the team’s willingness to make the upgrades needed. Finally able to add Rubio to the mix, along with fellow rookie Williams, the Timberwolves are finding a nice blend of youth and experience, but still know there is work to be done. Love sees all of this and also believes small market teams can compete with the big markets, as long as the teams do things the right way.
“I think that just depends on where the team is headed and where it’s a young, lively group, a great coach, great management and that sort of thing,” said Love. “It kind of puts talent places like Oklahoma City, where we’re at now, Memphis now and a few years ago. Especially teams like that can attract talent if they keep their winning ways.”
Love knows he will play a crucial role in the progression of the Timberwolves, both on and off the court. As a leader on the court for this young team, Love is expected to live up to his title of a now two-time NBA All-Star. That label also comes with the task of attempting to recruit free agents to Minnesota when the time comes, which is something Love is ready and willing to do.
“I mean, I’m going to try my best,” said Love. “Obviously, if I was in a place like L.A. or New York it would be a little different, but I’m going to try my best in Minneapolis to get big name players there, but I like the team that we have now. We’re going to continue to get better.”
As for now, Love is focused on the players currently on the Timberwolves roster and how he can help lead his young team into the playoffs for the first time in years. They may currently be on the outside looking in, but they are right in the mix and believe they have a good shot to land a coveted postseason berth.
“We just need to continue to get better,” said Love. “The more time we have on the floor together, the better we’re going to be. We’re such a young team—one of the youngest, if not the youngest team in the league—so if we just get more time on the floor together and continue to win basketball games, that’s what’s going to help us.”
With a 17-17 record in a tough Western Conference with a young roster, the Minnesota Timberwolves have already made great strides. The team’s management believes in what they are doing, fans and media are buying into it as well and, most importantly, Kevin Love is doing the same.