NBA AM: Kevin Love Losing Patience With T’Wolves
If there is one thing you can bank on when it comes to elite level NBA players, it would be the abundance of pride they have in their own games and how they stack up when measured versus their peers. Egos are present and the desire for respect is undeniable.
Minnesota Timberwolves power forward Kevin Love may not be considered an elite talent on the historical level of guys like LeBron James, Kobe Bryant, Kevin Durant and Chris Paul when it’s all said and done, but the four year veteran is intent on one day hearing his name mentioned in the same breath with the greats of his generation.
But there’s a problem separating Love from his intended goal of achieving the level of respect he craves – his overall team’s success. Love, who was named to the U.S. men’s Olympic basketball team for the 2012 games, is the only player on the twelve man roster without a single postseason game played. In fact, Minnesota has compiled a woeful 82-230 record (26 percent win rate) since Love entered the league during the 2009 campaign.
The constant losing has caused Love’s patience to be tested, which he readily admits is running thin with the organization these days.
“My patience is not high,” Love told Marc Spears of Yahoo! Sports. “Would yours be, especially when I’m a big proponent of greatness surrounding itself with greatness? All these [Team USA] guys seem to have great players around them. It’s tough seeing all these guys that are young and older who have all played in the playoffs. When they start talking about that, I have nothing to talk about. If I don’t make the playoffs next year I don’t know what will happen.”
Four guys on the latest Team USA installment immediately come to mind when it comes to younger players who have achieved playoff success at an early stage of their NBA careers – Kevin Durant (No. 2 overall in 2007), Russell Westbrook (No. 4 overall in 2008), Blake Griffin (No. 1 overall in 2009) and James Harden (No. 3 overall in 2009). This group already has a combined 140 playoff games under their belt. As a reminder, Love was selected No. 5 overall in 2008 so those guys’ success isn’t lost on the All-Star.
Then there’s the contract.
Love signed a four-year contract extension in the neighborhood of $62 million back in January, but was seeking a fifth year. Minnesota’s front office balked at the idea of the extra year and in a compromise both sides agreed to the four-year term with Love negotiating an opt out clause after year three, which means the forward can hit free agency in the summer of 2015.
Love is now in the driver’s seat in a day and age of player’s exercising those opt out clauses in order to seek better situations. The clock is now ticking in Minnesota to surround him with more talent.
“I would say it’s coming down to it for sure [next season],” Love said. “It’s no secret I was willing to commit to Minnesota for five years. I’m very happy with my contract. I’d love to be in Minnesota. But like anybody else, I want to win.”
It’s obvious Love wants to see more talent accumulated in Minnesota. So far this summer the T’Wolves’ front office has been attempting to bolster the talent level. The team has reportedly agreed to terms with former All-Star guard Brandon Roy and have issued a four-year $45 million offer sheet to restricted free agent forward Nicolas Batum. The team also acquired small forward Chase Budinger leading up to the draft back in June.
But making the playoffs is the only thing fueling Love at the moment. The All-Star feels it’s time for Minnesota’s front office to rise to the challenge and seize the moment.
“If we don’t make the playoffs, I don’t know it’s going to be me or something, but our management needs to step up and make some moves,” Love said. “Chase is good for us. Brandon if he can come in relatively healthy and be back to somewhat of where he was … we can be pretty damn good. If Ricky [Rubio] can come back healthy that would be great. But I think our front office and ownership needs to step up and get us some pieces. We need to make some moves. We can’t just stand still. We have to make this happen.”
The T’Wolves won 26 games this past season (lockout shortened) which was their highest win tally since 2007. The franchise has not reached the postseason since losing in the Western Conference Finals in 2004.
Are The Miami HEAT Heading Towards Being Too Old? The 2012 NBA champion Miami HEAT have reloaded this summer luring future Hall of Famer Ray Allen to south beach away from Boston. At 37, Allen is ancient by NBA standards, but still a very highly productive player who will benefit from a reduced role in Miami.
The HEAT, with LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh dominating the team’s salary cap, are at somewhat of a disadvantage when it comes to adding in more talent after each season. Which means the team will be always on the lookout for veteran’s willing to take less in pursuit of a championship.
Two players who fit this mold and have drawn interest from Miami are veterans Raja Bell and Marcus Camby.
Bell and the Utah Jazz have reached a verbal agreement on a contract buyout according to Brian T. Smith of the Salt Lake Tribune. Bell was set to earn $3.4 million in 2013.
“I’ve been given the green light and we’ve agreed to terms,” Bell said according to Smith.
According to numerous reports, Bell has an interest in joining the HEAT. The veteran is a Miami native.
“We typically play it pretty close to the vest. [Agent] Herb [Rudoy] and I are pretty private,” Bell said. “But, in essence, [I’m] pretty much a free agent. I don’t think the I’s are dotted and the T’s are crossed. But we’ve been given the green light by Utah to go ahead and find something that works for us. We’ve agreed to the terms. So I think it’s safe to say now we are in the market again and we’re entertaining our options at this point. My agent and I are just trying to find a good [situation] and we’re exploring all our options.”
Bell is 35 and a former All-Defensive team selection with over 950 career three-pointers which are two areas Miami requires from its role players around the James, Wade and Bosh core.
The HEAT are also reportedly serious players in the pursuit of veteran center Marcus Camby according to an ESPN report which cited league sources. The 38 year old Camby averaged 4.9 points and 9 rebounds per game last season with Portland and Houston. Camby would fill a need on the interior which remains one of Miami’s weaknesses.
Spurs Place DeJuan Blair On Trading Block? As recent NBA underdog success stories go, San Antonio Spurs forward DeJuan Blair’s journey should be near the top of the list. Selected No. 37 overall in the 2009 draft, Blair has already bucked the odds and has established himself as a full-time starter who can produce despite giving up size every night.
But his time in San Antonio may be coming to an abrupt end. Blair started 62 of the 64 contests he appeared in this past season averaging 21.3 minutes per game, but logged only 76 total minutes of floor time during San Antonio’s playoff run.
Blair believes the postseason playing time slight is a sign of change to come.
“I’m trying to get down to 260 (pounds), and it’s working,” Blair told Mike Monroe of the Express-News. I’ll be great by September. I know I’m on the trading block, so we’ll see what happens. I love the Spurs, but they’ve got a lot of ‘bigs,’ and they’re bringing somebody else from overseas, so where am I going to fall at? I was out of the rotation at the end of the season, so imagine next year. That’s something I really don’t want to go through again, because it tore me down.”
Blair is set to earn $1 million for 2013, but the full amount isn’t guaranteed.
“The Spurs are excellent,” Blair said. “They used me to get everybody going and just get to the playoffs. That’s what it’s seemed like the last two seasons. But it’s a business, and everybody has their role, and I played mine, obviously, in the season. That’s proved right now. We were No. 1 the last two seasons when I was starting, and then lost in the playoffs when I wasn’t. That’s just, well, I don’t know, common sense.”
NBA Chats: There are three NBA Chats scheduled for today starting with HOOPSWORLD’s Bill Ingram at 11am. Bill’s chats do fill up fast so getting in early is always wise. HOOPSWORLD’s Stephen Brotherston returns to hold down his weekly chat at 3pm EST. You can always find the next NBA Chat here: http://www.hoopsworld.com/upcoming-chats and if you are looking for Previous Chats try here: http://www.hoopsworld.com/previous-chats