Is Kevin Love Worth a Max-Contract for the Minnesota Timberwolves?

Andrew KennedyContributor IJanuary 25, 2012

BOSTON, MA - JANUARY 03:  Kevin Love #42 of the Minnesota Timberwolves wipes his face in the fourth quarter against the Boston Celtics on January 3, 2011 at the TD Garden in Boston, Massachusetts. The Celtics defeated the Timberwolves 96-93. 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 Elsa/Getty Images)
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Kevin Love and the Minnesota Timberwolves have a decision to make today. Reports last night suggested that the two sides came to an agreement on a four-year, $62 million contract extension.

The deadline for Love and every other player of the 2008 draft class to receive extensions is tonight at midnight. Derrick Rose and Russell Westbrook have each received five-year extensions. Under the new Collective Bargaining Agreement, teams can only have one player in his rookie contract extended five years.

The Timberwolves would like flexibility in this situation and not have to decide right now between extending Love the full five years rather than Ricky Rubio or Derrick Williams in the future.

Now in his fourth season in the NBA, Kevin Love has already entered record books with his play. Last season he became the first player since Moses Malone in the 1982-83 season to average 20 points and 15 rebounds in a season.

Love can put up video game numbers. Some people just aren’t so sure that they are legit, coming in Minnesota.

If Love was in the body of, say, Blake Griffin, and accounting for the same exact numbers, the extension would be given to him without thought.

Charles Barkley calls Love the best power forward in the game today. Love rebounds like a power forward but some of his offensive skills aren’t ideal for the position.

Nowhere else will you find a player who can stretch the floor and hit threes while crashing the glass too. But he doesn’t possess the offensive post presence that a team would like out of their cornerstone power forward.

Love is right now more of a pick-and-pop player than someone that can receive the ball in the post and demand a double-team. He might be closer to a David Lee than any other player of his position.

Consider that Love shoots just 57.9 percent on shots at the rim this season and 35 percent on shots from three-to-nine feet. Those are very low numbers for a power forward.

Blake Griffin shoots 71.4 percent and 41.4 percent from those locations. Pau Gasol shoots 69.5 percent and 54.7 percent, and David Lee is 65.3 percent and 37.9 percent. You can see that Love’s numbers are less than all of these players’ but he does make up for it somewhat, attempting nine free throws per game.

Love plays the game in a different way, a throwback of some sorts that prides himself on hustle and hard work to produce results. These are good things but it leads some to believe that he has less potential than other max-contract players.

Westbrook, at the end of the day, was a no-brainer for the Thunder to extend. It’s not every year that you have a chance to lock up a player like Westbrook, so the Thunder had to strike while the iron was hot.

That’s what you do in this league. A lot of getting good is luck. Not giving a young player a long enough extension in hopes of having cap room to land a big free agent hardly ever works out.

The Timberwolves have to extend Love rather than waiting for free agency where he would be a restricted free agent. That is obvious.

The question is: should they give him the five years or hope he accepts four so that they can give Rubio five down the road?

If I’m Minnesota, I do everything I can to give him just four years. I take advantage of Love and the kind of guy he is right now.

"It wouldn't be ideal,” Love told ESPN when asked how he’d feel if an agreement was not reached. “So it would be nice to work something out. I enjoy it here, I enjoy my teammates, I enjoy the coaching staff, I enjoy the Twin Cities, even when it's cold.”

He actually enjoys Minnesota when it’s cold. Love might be too nice for his own good in this case if he accepts the four-year deal.

But if Love is serious about staying in Minnesota and winning there, allowing flexibility for his front office could be a smart thing especially so that they can make sure they keep Rubio.

We should see later today what happens. If I’m Minnesota, I try for the four-year deal but if there’s no way that can work, I give him the max. Kevin Love's don’t come around too often. The question is: do they come around more often than Ricky Rubio’s?