Minnesota Timberwolves: Kevin Love Talks NBA Lockout, Ricky Rubio and New Coach

Dan Favale@@danfavaleFeatured ColumnistJuly 27, 2011

Minnesota Timberwolves: Kevin Love Talks NBA Lockout, Ricky Rubio and New Coach

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    We all know of Kevin Love as the tenacious rebounding machine from the Minnesota Timberwolves, but Tuesday afternoon, he announced he was entering a different realm of sport while the NBA is locked out: volleyball.

    At a launch event for its newly instituted Pro Beach Volleyball Series, Jose Cuervo transformed Times Square’s Pedestrian Plaza into a beach volleyball court. It was here Love announced his intention of being a part of said series.

    After Love addressed the many New Yorkers looking on, he took to the sand to show that he wasn’t just a one-sport pony. He used his height and athleticism to show how he could excel at volleyball just as he has basketball.

    Love and Jose Cuervo were kind enough to give Bleacher Report some one-on-one interview time after Kevin walked off the sand.

    On the ensuing slides we will take a brief look at what Love thinks about the NBA lockout, the Timberwolves coaching search, what Minnesota needs to do to reach the playoffs this season and his take on what teams do to try and prevent him from doing what he is best known for: rebounding.

Kevin Love on Rebounding

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    Being one of the premiere rebounders in the NBA, I took the opportunity to ask Love who in the league makes him work the hardest to get rebounds when he faces them.

    No one in particular sprang into Love's mind at the time, but he did offer up some insight as to what he noticed when he was working on his record-breaking 53 straight games with a double-double.

    "There's not one in particular, but I think, especially when going through my streak, guys would face-guard me," Love explained. "Two or three guys would be sitting on me on offensive rebounds just to make sure I didn't get any."

    Occurrences such as the aforementioned would frustrate many, but not Love, who says that he found it more puzzling than anything.

    "I think that's funny because then you are leaving open a lane for other guys to come in there and crash the boards as well."

    What Love says is true, and also shows how important it was to opposing teams to attempt to stop his incredible streak. While Love could not think of any players in particular who gave him a tough time, he did say that there were a few teams here and there that made it difficult for him.

    Due to time constraints though, he was unable to elaborate.

    However, it could also be Love being modest. Teams were most certainly trying their hardest to end his streak, but it took 53 games to stop this workhorse from putting up a double-double.

Kevin Love on NBA Lockout

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    The NBA lockout has left both players and fans searching for a different outlet for their interests, hence Kevin Love's commitment to Jose Cuervo's Pro Beach Volleyball Series.

    Love's decision to take part in Jose Cuervo's series could quite possibly give the impression that he doesn't think there is going to be an NBA season in 2011-12. With stars like Love, Deron Williams and Kobe Bryant exploring other options, a warning light is flashing in the eyes of many.

    However, when asked about whether or not he thought there would be an NBA season this year, Love indicated he thought there would be one, but wasn't sure how long it would be.

    "I think there will definitely be a season," Love explained. "We just don't really know when. I've heard November, I've heard December, I've heard it will be a lot like '99 where they only played 50 games."

    We can take some solace in knowing that Love seems to be confident that there will be at least a partial season. Most fans and media outlets will want more, though. And so does Love.

    "I'm hoping, and I've said this all day, that we'll kind of look at the NFL labor agreement and kind of see the groundwork that they have laid," he said. "It's been 132 days for them and for us it's been 26 thus far, so we just want to hopefully cut that time and make it even shorter than theirs."

    Love's insight makes a lot of sense, and hopefully his take on the lockout will come to fruition and we can avoid the tragedy of a shortened NBA season, or worse.

Kevin Love on What the Minnesota Timberwolves Need To Do To Make the Playoffs

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    The Timberwolves have not made the playoffs since the 2003-04 NBA season, and have not been in the playoff hunt during any of Kevin Love's three seasons.

    Obviously, something needs to change, so B/R asked Love what it is that Minnesota needs to do to get over the hump and make it to the postseason in 2012.

    "Grow up. We have to grow up," he said. "Hopefully, we will have a coach that will coach us to win through the tough times that we are going to have."

    Love is extremely realistic. He knows it is not just one aspect of the team that is holding it back. He understands that there is going to be a process and that nothing can happen overnight.

    "I know there is going to be a bunch of growing pains and hopefully the coach will be susceptible and adaptable to working with us through those tough times," he explained. "I think the coach that we choose is going to be very crucial to the success that we are going to have."

    Minnesota is a young team, with numerous players on the roster that have questions marks next to their names. 

    How will Derrick Williams fit in with the rest of the team?

    Can Ricky Rubio effectively run the Timberwolves offense?

    Will Michael Beasley and Derrick Williams be able to coexist on the same team, or is Beasley on his way out?

    These questions and more are surrounding the team, and what Love describes as "growing pains" are really the aforementioned obstacles this team must overcome. As he notes, Minnesota's head coaching decision will have an enormous effect on where this team is headed and how quickly it gets there.

Kevin Love on the Minnesota Timberwolves Search for a Head Coach

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    When Love emphasized how important Minnesota's head coach selection would be to the team's potential success, I took the opportunity to ask him if he had anyone in mind that he would love to play for.

    Somewhat surprisingly, Love endorsed the possibility of former Sacramento Kings head coach Rick Adelman taking over the reins for the Timberwolves.

    "I think a guy like Rick Adelman would be phenomenal to play for," he said. "He ran that corner offense in Sacramento where, at the high post, he had guys like Chris Webber, Vlade Divac and Brad Miller."

    Why exactly does such a system appeal to Love?

    "He had guys who could really pass the ball in his system and I think we have that in Minnesota, as well as high-profile scorers," Love explained, "and I think that is very intriguing.

    While other coaches the Timberwolves have interviewed have caught Love's eye, he said that Adelman and his system are what sprang into his mind at the moment.

    With scorers like Beasley, Williams and Love himself, it is hard to argue that Adelman's corner offense would be a good fit. In Love, you have a big who is capable of playing at the high post and is a decent passer. And the incoming Ricky Rubio also serves as both a scoring threat and an exceptional passer.

    Speaking of Rubio...

Kevin Love on Ricky Rubio and Running the Pick-and-Roll

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    Back on June 2nd, Love tweeted that he was thinking about pick-and-rolls, which was obviously a response to Ricky Rubio finally agreeing to join the Timberwolves.

    Love's tweet led to an array of speculation regarding whether or not he thought the pick-and-roll was something Minnesota needed to master in order to be successful. As it turns out, he believes that the pick-and-roll is indeed crucial to the team's success.

    "I think we have to," Love said when asked about his take on running pick-and-rolls. "Especially with the way I shoot the ball and with the different guys that we have that can play multiple positions."

    Pick-and-rolls are an important part of many teams' offensive systems, but it becomes evident Love believes it is a necessity for the Timberwolves at this point, and he reiterated its importance immediately following the first part of his response.

    "We have to run the pick-and-roll, and we have to get better at it," he said. "And the more time spent together—hopefully we'll have time even in the lockout, even in the offseason where we can play together a little bit."

    Rubio is especially crucial to Minnesota's pick-and-roll execution. He has to play the role of both the facilitator and benefactor at different times, and Love believes that he is up to the challenge.

    "With Ricky, the way he passes the ball, and sees people throughout the entire offense that it has to happen."

    Lockout willing, we will get to see if the pick-and-roll can become an integral part of Love and Rubio's cohesion.