Kevin Love Deal Is the Worst in Recent Memory

Joe BarnathanCorrespondent IJanuary 26, 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)
Elsa/Getty Images

It isn't every day that an organization has to make a monumental decision like the one the Timberwolves made when they signed Kevin Love.

I’ve heard the arguments about how great it is that Kevin Love resigned at all, or that this will help him make more money in the long run, or that it’s smart to save some money on this contract in case something goes poorly.

It’s all wrong. Every single person who does not recognize that Kevin Love should have been signed to the max amount of years for the max amount of money is simply wrong.


How many power forwards in the NBA are more talented than Kevin Love? 

If we’re showing respect and ignoring statistics, we can put Dirk Nowitzki ahead of Love. 

After that it gets a little less clear. What about Pau Gasol? Would you rather have Blake Griffin?

Both of these are solid arguments, however whether or not you place Kevin Love at the top, bottom, or middle of that list, it’s pretty clear he is a top-five player at his position.

Statistically, he’s having one of the most impressive seasons in recent memory. If he keeps up his current averages at rebounding and scoring, he would be just the fourth person in the past 20 years to reach those marks. Not to mention the fact that of those four people he’s the only one hitting 40 percent from behind the arc as well.

It’s true, he doesn’t block shots as much as he should and he probably should get a few more assists. However, look at the company Kevin Love is being compared to. On that list are Kevin Garnett, Shaquille O’Neal, and Hakeem Olajuwon. And that’s it.

No one is trying to make the argument that Kevin Love is as talented as the players mentioned above, however, it’s pretty apparent that he deserves to be in the conversation as one of the most talented players in the NBA.

I’ve heard the argument that Kevin Love only gets these stats because he’s on a bad team. To me, that’s a poor argument, especially when this year his team added more talent and his numbers only got better. Sure, if you paired him with Dwight Howard his stats might go down, but so would Howard’s.

The point I’m trying to make here is that we need to accept the fact that Kevin Love has established himself at the very least as one of the top 15 players in the game, if not in the top 10.

And he’s only 23 years old.

For a franchise looking to build a brighter future, you don’t get many chances like this.

So then why on earth did the Minnesota Timberwolves sign Kevin Love to anything less than the max contract?

This is by far the worst decision a team has made this year. And this was a year when Kwame Brown got paid $7 million to go play for the Warriors.

Every other young player that looks to be a franchise cornerstone got the max money and the max years.

How on earth can small market teams complain about the difficulties of keeping their franchise players when they continue to make terrible decisions like this?

You only signed our franchise player for four years?! Are you kidding me?
You only signed our franchise player for four years?! Are you kidding me?Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

Why is this such a terrible deal? Let's break it down further.

First, Kevin Love himself wanted the longer deal, "I was willing to make a commitment for five years. They thought otherwise."

Nothing sums it up better than that quote. Kevin Love realizes that the Timberwolves organization doubts whether or not he is truly a franchise player. This is a problem. This is how issues between players and management start. When you have a franchise player, you make the franchise deal.

Why take the risk of upsetting Love down the road? What happens if in three years the team isn’t as good as they were supposed to be. Why would Love commit to the team when the team refused to fully commit to him?

For as long as this contract plays out, Kevin Love will be of the mind that his organization doesn’t appreciate him as much as the Thunder appreciate Russell Westbrook or the Bulls appreciate Derrick Rose.

Which brings me to my next point. Who are the Wolves saving their money for?

What scenario in which not having Love on the team for an extra year really shows any benefit?

Are the Timberwolves so delusional that they think they’ll be able to attract a different superstar to come play in Minnesota without Kevin Love?

Small market teams build from within. That’s what is so exciting about drafting talent like Kevin Love, Ricky Rubio, and Derrick Williams. The talent needed for a great franchise is already there, they just have to put the proper pieces around those players in order to make the team successful. 

They don’t need another superstar, and even if they wanted one, there’s no way they could ever get a player of Love’s caliber through free agency. I don’t think Blake Griffin is taking his talents to the great white north any time soon.

Finally, the third year opt out. This is truly mind-boggling. 

Does no one in Minnesota own a television, open a newspaper, or have a computer?

Remember when Lebron James decided to opt out of his five-year deal? He only had that clause in his contract because the Cavs were desperate to keep him for all five years.

If you’re negotiating Kevin Love’s contract and he wants the comfort of a five-year contract, but you don’t wish to give it to him, why on earth would you give him an opt out after three?

Clearly the opt out was a concession that management made in order to get the four-year deal. Essentially management decided they’d rather have Kevin Love for three years as opposed to five.

If Kevin Love wants five years, give him five. But take away his opt out.

As management, wouldn’t you rather have a player for one year too long than one year too short?

Nothing would be more disheartening to your fan base than to lose your franchise player. This is what you risk when you give him a three-year contract.

Worst-case scenario in giving him the extra year is that he’s undesirable in that final year and he becomes a valuable trading asset as an expiring contract. 

Everything that I’ve said in this article is common sense. There are no revelations, there’s nothing creative, all straightforward logic. Success in the NBA is built on obtaining great individual talents and surrounding them with solid players and a good coach. 

You can’t have success without keeping your most talented players. And while superficially it may seem like the Timberwolves did a “good job” in signing Kevin Love, keep in mind that every single fan in Minnesota would have made at least as good of a decision.

Keeping Kevin Love was a no-brainer. Management doesn’t get points for signing a super-talented player who wants to stick around. There’s nothing impressive about it.

What’s appalling is that management still somehow screwed up perhaps the simplest decision anyone had to make all season.

I truly hope that this deal doesn’t come back to bite the organization. There are few things I would love more than to see this organization succeed and join the Thunder and Spurs in proving that small market teams can be successful.

With Rick Adelman as coach and all the talent they have on their roster, they just might be able to get to the right place in three years where Kevin Love can’t imagine leaving.

However, they should have five full years to build and develop their talent to make a real run in the playoffs. 

Instead, Adelman and the rest of the players will be in this Lebron-clock-is-ticking-type situation, which is never a good thing and could turn out disastrous.

And that is why this is such a terrible deal.


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