The Kevin Love image rehab hasn’t been a nation-wide affair. Unless you think the trade rumors swirling last month about a potential trade to Cleveland, of all places, was his doing you haven’t heard a lot from Love with regards to his lost season. His kind words about Flip Saunders and the direction the Wolves are heading in have been nice, but he came out and pledged allegiance and let Minnesotans know a few positive views he holds — most relevant among them, Nikola Pekovic is considered a core member and he expects him to stay put. Andrei Kirilenko, too. Lots of positivity for Wolves fans heading into the weekend.
Kevin Love said Thursday in an interview with ESPN’s “SportsCenter” that he’s “absolutely” past any negativity he felt toward the Minnesota Timberwolves and is confident in the team’s future under new president of basketball operations Flip Saunders.
Earlier Thursday, Saunders called into ESPN Radio’s “Mike & Mike in the Morning,” where Love also was an on-set guest and was asked one of the biggest questions of the offseason concerning the Timberwolves by the All-Star forward himself.
“So, I have to get this out of the way. There has been a lot of speculation out there and just so we’re clear, I am not getting traded,” Love said after Saunders was introduced.
“You are not being traded. Does that make you feel better?” Saunders replied. “Maybe now people will stop calling me.”
Love recounted the conversation on “SportsCenter” when asked his feelings about Saunders coming back to the Timberwolves, saying with a chuckle, “I’m in Minnesota … I’m here to stay.”
“It’s really great to have him aboard and between him and Coach [Rick] Adelman there’s just so many years of basketball experience. So to have that and to have a guy who’s been to the Western Conference finals and the Eastern Conference finals and just been around so many great players and great talent, it’s really going to be big for us and the fans love him,” he said.
Saunders coached the Wolves for 10 seasons (1995-96 to 2004-05) and led Minnesota to the 2004 West finals and Detroit Pistons to three consecutive East finals (2006 to 2008).
Most importantly, Love said he and the Timberwolves are “definitely past” any animosity between them. He said he and star point guard Ricky Rubio are organizing a workout with their teammates in Los Angeles.
“We’re going to keep working toward our common goal,” he said.
Love, who had arthroscopic surgery on his left knee on April 10, said he feels “great.”
“If I’m not 100 percent, I’m really close to it, so I’m looking forward to having a very productive offseason,” he said.
Love also addressed his prediction last offseason that the Wolves would qualify for the playoffs. Minnesota, beset with several injuries, ended up finishing 20 games under .500 at 31-51. He said the Wolves have what it takes to make good on that prediction this season.
“I think if we’re not an injury-riddled team next year, then we’re going to be looking very good,” he said.
Love can opt out of his contract in 2015. When asked about that decision, he said the Wolves have to “continue to keep building the right path.”
“I think we’re doing that right now. I think Flip is going to be a big part of our team heading forward,” he said.
“If our health is at all-time high, then I think we’re going to be playing at an all-time high, too. We’re really going to have a lot of success,” he said.