In a recent interview with Marc Spears of Yahoo! Sports, Kevin Love did not shy from expressing his frustration with the Minnesota Timberwolves’ front office. Love stated, “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.” The Timberwolves have not made a playoff appearance since 2004 and although they seemed positioned to break that trend last year, injuries to Rubio as well as Love once again landed them one of the worst Western Conference records- the 4th worst to be exact.
In the midst of competing for team USA in this summer’s Olympics, Love stands as the only man on the roster to have never played in the playoffs. He expressed how challenging it has become to be compared to his peers this way, “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.” In fact only three of Love’s USA teammates have not appeared in their respective Conference Finals or a Championship, Andre Igoudala, Chris Paul and Blake Griffin. To put things into greater perspective, Love’s ex-roommate Russell Westbrook and 4th pick of the 2008 draft has played in 43 playoff games and OJ Mayo (the player Love was traded for) has appeared in 20.
Without even a first round appearance Love is concerned with the moves, or lack-thereof the Wolves front office has made, “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.” It should be noted, David Kahn, GM of the Timberwolves has been active this month bringing on board Brandon Roy, Chase Budinger and currently pursuing options to secure Nicholas Batum. However, with Hibbert’s contract likely to be matched by the Pacers per Mike Wells, beat writer of the Indianapolis Star it is even more likely Batum’s offer sheet from the Wolves will be matched by the Blazers. That puts the Wolves in familiar territory, filling holes in the roster but unable to bring on board big time scorers or key defenders that can take this team to the next level. While Roy is a past All-Star his contributions this year are not guaranteed nor a solution for the long term.
Without any major moves made this offseason the Wolves still have some solid pieces in play. Before his injury Ricky Rubio looked as if he would be able to end this team’s playoff drought during his rookie season. Additionally, center, Nikola Pekovic emerged as a candidate for Most Improved Player and demonstrated his toughness on both the defensive and offensive end. Love recognizes these assets but says that Minnesota fans still deserve “a better product.”
As a fan you are either angry or fearful. Angry at the front office’s decisions or Love for openly expressing his dismay or fearful for Love’s potential departure and the repeat loss of a Wolves’ franchise player. Like myself many of you may be both but there is room to be optimistic.
While Love and many fans were against the 4 year/ 3 year opt out contract instead of the 5 year maximum, this time frame alone may force the Wolves to make moves sooner rather than later. Furthermore, if the Wolves do not make the playoffs next year there is a strong likelihood that Kahn’s contract will not be renewed, thus leaving the team in the hand’s of a new GM and perhaps more importantly someone Love favors more. Lastly, the state of the Western Conference has changed dramatically with the Blazers, Suns, Rockets, and Jazz undergoing a similar rebuilding process and the Mavericks losing out on their free agency prizes this Summer making more room for a possible playoff berth.
Love cares about the future of this team but like any true competitor wants results now, “I’d love to be in Minnesota. But like anybody else, I want to win.” His frustration with this team should be a sign of the urgency we as fans should also feel. This team is close to the playoffs but in order to be successful for years to come, moves must be made. Hopefully with Love’s sentiment and Adelman’s influence on Wolves management the future will come much sooner.