Minnesota Timberwolves' Lowball Gamble on Kevin Love Will Backfire

Bob BajekAnalyst IIIJanuary 25, 2012

WASHINGTON, DC - MARCH 05:  Kevin Love #42 of the Minnesota Timberwolves reacts after missing a shot against the Washington Wizards at the Verizon Center on March 5, 2011 in Washington, DC. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this Photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images)
Rob Carr/Getty Images

The Minnesota Timberwolves seemed primed to blow a great opportunity of re-signing franchise player Kevin Love by lowballing the superstar out of the max contract he desires.

Love, who was the NBA Most Improved Player last year and is a contender for this year's MVP award, wants the Timberwolves to offer him a max contract worth $80 million over five years.

And what are the amazing T'Wolves bringing to the table? Minnesota falls well short at $62 million over four years. As Love tweeted, he wasn't too appreciative about that:

If you read it on the Internet it must be true right?

Are they crazy!!!??? This is Kevin Love, not Darko Milicic! Oh wait, they signed the underachieving center to a four-year, $20-million deal. Why not shell some extra bucks to a superstar?

Not giving K-Love the max contract he deserves will increase the chances he will leave via free agency and destroy a promising core the Timberwolves have built over the years.

The 23-year-old Love is playing like the best power forward in the NBA right now. He has improved his scoring and rebounding averages every season. K-Love averaged just 11.1 points per game as a rookie, but his scoring went up to 14, 20.2 and 24.9, respectively.

The 6'10", 260-pound Love led the NBA with 15.2 rebounds a game last year and now has 13.9 boards.

For the Timberwolves to have a strong team in the future, they need to re-sign Love. He was the second-best player in the 2008 NBA draft behind the Chicago Bulls' Derrick Rose and has injected some life in Minnesota for the first time since future Hall of Famer Kevin Garnett left for the Boston Celtics.

With electric point guard Ricky Rubio and promising forward Derrick Williams, the Timberwolves have a great core to build a contender around.

That core without K-Love will not be as potent.

Other teams would be interested in Love if he would become a free agent. The Los Angeles Lakers, Dallas Mavericks, Houston Rockets and Boston Celtics are all teams with older or ineffective power forwards and would snag a superstar like K-Love in a heartbeat.

Minnesota should cough up an extra $18 million to keep Love and the fanbase happy. Love is needed for the future. He is the Timberwolves' leader both on and off the court.

Love is needed, as small forward and 2008 draft bust Michael Beasley is being phased out.

If Love leaves, Beasley would have to be re-signed, and the organization knows Beasley is nowhere near Love's leadership or talent level.

Signing Love for whatever he wants should be the Timberwolves' top priority if they don't want to be cellar-dwellers again.

Bob Bajek is an NBA Featured Columnist. He is also a freelance reporter and can be followed at Patch.com and Twitter.