Will Kevin Love's Injury Fuel Trade Rumors About His Future with Timberwolves?

Josh MartinNBA Lead WriterJanuary 7, 2013

Dec 29, 2012; Minneapolis, MN, USA; Minnesota Timberwolves forward Kevin Love (42) smiles prior to the game against the Phoenix Suns at the Target Center. The Timberwolves defeated the Suns 111-107. Mandatory Credit: Brace Hemmelgarn-USA TODAY Sports
Brace Hemmelgarn-USA TODAY Sports

Good news...well there really isn't any good news for Kevin Love and the Minnesota Timberwolves these days. The former will miss "a number of weeks" after refracturing the third metacarpal in his right hand during Minny's road win against the Denver Nuggets on January 3rd.

Whether the time missed will be on account of restful healing or surgery remains to be seen.

As for the latter (i.e. the T-Wolves), they can only hope this latest setback doesn't give Love any more cause to push for an exit before his contract allows. The two-time All-Star has been none too shy in voicing his displeasure with the organization.

He's questioned the decisions made by general manager David Kahn and owner Glen Taylor. He's griped about the absence of postseason play in the Land of 10,000 Lakes. He's even done more than hint at the possibility that he'll opt out of his current contract in 2015, when he'll be free to do so.

That is, assuming Minny doesn't move him first. The team came into the 2012-13 NBA season with high hopes for its first playoff berth since Kevin Garnett carried the T-Wolves to the Western Conference finals in 2004.

But injuries to Love, Ricky Rubio, Chase Budinger, Nikola Pekovic and Andrei Kirilenko (among others) have left the T-Wolves to stop and start as if grinding their way through rush-hour traffic. To his credit, Rick Adelman has done a marvelous job of keeping this squad together and playing solid basketball with whoever happens to be healthy at any given time.

What happens, then, if/when the T-Wolves, currently ninth in the West, climb back into the playoff picture in Love's absence? What happens if/when second-year forward Derrick Williams lives up to his second-pick billing? Or if/when AK-47 slides over to power forward and provides some semblance of the rebounding and perimeter shooting that Love provided? Or if/when Pekovic picks up his play with more room to roam in the middle?

What then? Do the T-Wolves consider trading Love, knowing that he may want out anyway? 

To be sure, it's not as though Minny has piled up W's when Love has played. The T-Wolves are just 86-201 (.300 winning percentage) with Love on the floor during his four-plus pro seasons. Granted, that's hardly all Kevin's fault and is still a better mark than that which Minny has posted overall (.284 winning percentage) since 2008. 

Nonetheless, it's difficult to argue that Kevin Love is truly a "winner," at least right now. Ignoring the first four years of futility with Love in the middle, the T-Wolves are 9-9 with him and 6-6 without him this season.

Adelman, though, has been none too amenable to the idea that his team might be just as well off (if not better off) without Love. As he told the attendant media on January 5th (via Zach Harper of CBSSports.com):

Yeah, right. You don't replace someone like that. You might be able to do it over a quarter and a half. But you try to do it over a five-week period, and it becomes a different animal.

They should try coaching a team without him.

It's doubtful that Adelman will try unless he has to, which, for now, means only while Love is sidelined by his own body. Chances are, the T-Wolves won't have to worry about it for at least another season-and-a-half. Not until then will the threat of Kevin's escape become real and the need to decide on his future—whether to trade him away or risk losing him for nothing—a pressing one.

In the meantime, these next few weeks for the T-Wolves without their unhappy power forward could make things mighty interesting for the future of the franchise.