Why the Kevin Love Contract Won't Be a Disaster for Minnesota Timberwolves
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You can clown on David Kahn for most of his general managerial tenure with the Minnesota Timberwolves.
Just not the Kevin Love deal.
Yeah, the dinky offer—just four years and $61 million, with a player option for that fourth year—seems to lowball inarguably the best power forward in the game, maybe enough to strike a cord.
"I was willing to make a commitment for five years," Love said. "They thought otherwise."
But however shortchanging the deal might seem, it also serves an important function: It rushes Love to his next contract.
To the contract.
Let's say the Timberwolves did pony up and offer Love the five years he wanted. As a three-year player entitled to 25 percent of a $58 million team salary cap year, Love would've stood to make the same $14.5 million per year for only an extra year, what the Thunder handed twenty-something Russell Westbrook.
But, if Love plays out the full four years of this deal, that would send him gently into free agency as a seven-year pro with earning potential of 30 percent of the 2016 salary cap.
For those of you not posted in front of a calculator, that's an extra $3 million per year. Over the life of a potentially six-year deal, that gets the man $18 million more.
Do you see the positive in a shorter deal now getting Kevin Love closer to a longer, more lucrative deal sooner?
This admittedly shorter, tide-you-over-type deal gets him closer to that payday.
Plus, you have to realize we are talking about the Timberwolves, an organization that has proved, if nothing else, there's a lot that can go wrong (say, selecting three point guards in the first round of a draft in which you have three freaking first-round picks) in not a lot of time (and then sticking with Ricky Rubio and Jonny Flynn, not Ty Lawson...shaking head disapprovingly).
And given the team's youth—let me see, Love, Rubio, Derrick Williams, Wesley Johnson; I think the most tenured league player might be Darko Milicic—that might coincide with not a lot of winning. That's got to be tough to swallow, especially over the course of, say, five years of not max money.
Maybe enough to build frustration, doubt, resentment, curiosity.
Maybe enough to make Kevin Love want to leave.
Maybe enough to get him to hold the Timberwolves hostage with trade demands, how armfuls of players (Amar'e Stoudemire, Carmelo Anthony, Deron Williams, Chris Paul—should I keep going?) have shown him how.
Maybe that changes now, with the light (another contract extension) at the end of the tunnel closer.
Was this all part of some master plan? Absolutely not. I have more confidence in my township snow plow guy than I do David Kahn.
But, however accidentally, they might make out here.
Will Kevin Love have a third contract in Minnesota?
Minnesota does have a lot to offer. Love can grow with a young team.
"I like the direction the team is headed," Love said. "I like the youth. I like the pieces, like we're knocking at the door and we're close in a lot of games."
He could take a previously unaccomplished franchise to new heights. He could earn more money in Minny than anywhere else (thank you, Larry Bird Rule).
Don't get me wrong. The deal has its flaws.
But even the simplest and most obvious—why in hell would you include a player option on a player like Love ever?! (even though the Heat did with LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh after their deals' fourth years)—isn't as scary as you might think.
Again: NBA earning potential is all a numbers game. It's years of service that correspond to a percentage of a given year's team salary cap.
By the end of Year Three, Love would still be in that lowliest, zero-to-six year bracket, capable of earning only what he's getting now. And over fewer years, again, under the terms of the Larry Bird rule.
If nothing else, Love would be wise to re-up again for a sign-and-trade, which would still get the Timberwolves something.
So feel free to clown on Kahn. (Try it. It's fun.)
Just keep the Kevin Love contract out of it.
Matt Hammond is a producer for 97.3 ESPN Radio Atlantic City, and writes for 973ESPN.com. He's also the founder of the sports blog ThoughtsInPassing.com. Follow Matt on Twitter at @MattHammond973.
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