Early Wednesday morning, Kevin Love displayed his commitment to the Timberpups by inking a max contract extension worth roughly $62 million over 4 seasons that includes an opt-out clause after the third season. The extension will begin starting next season and K-Love has certainly earned the honors of receiving a contract of its magnitude due to his stellar play this season. At 23 years old, the 6’10” Love is averaging a career high 24.9 points while pulling down 13.9 rebounds per contest. If Love finishes the season with his current statistics, he would become the first player to record those statistics since Moses Malone in 1981-82. In the last year and a half, Love has continued to make history and do things no player has done for some 30 years. He has become one of the most unique players in NBA history, possessing elite rebounding skills and having excellent range that extends out to the three-point line where he is shooting a whopping 39% this year. He remains one of the most efficient players in the NBA and was recently voted by NBA GMs as the player who is doing the most with the least, meaning he creates opportunities and is able to make dire situations productive. Love has been a major factor in returning the Timberwolves fan base to its strongest since the KG era, and it is not a stretch to say that K-Love may end up being remembered as a better player than The Big Ticket.
There remains confusion and criticism as to why Love was offered only a 4-year deal and not the possible 5-year extension worth roughly $78 million. The reason is this: with the new CBA, each team is able to have one “designated player” that can be offered a 5-year deal instead of the usual 4-year contract extension. In this way, each team has the ability to offer a soon-to-be free agent on their current roster an extra year to a contract, making it more likely teams will be able to retain their own players. If the Timberwolves were to give Love the 5-year extension, then they would only be able to offer Ricky Rubio or Derrick Williams 4-year extensions in 3 years when it comes time for them to negotiate their extensions. By keeping Love with a 4-year deal, the Timberwolves save the “designated player” tag for someone else and have the most flexibility going forward. Rubio and Williams appear to have ceilings as high as any NBA player, and they may end up being more important to the team than K-Love is in 3 years.
Kevin Love had every single reason to not accept anything less than the 5-year, $78 million contract. By accepting a 4-year deal, Love is showing that he is completely devoted to the Timberwolves team and organization, enough to the point where he is willing to give up his own hard-earned dollars in order to give the Timberwolves the best situation going forward. Signing Love to a 4-year deal was the perfect move for the team, as I strongly believe Rubio is the key to bringing home a championship to Minnesota. Having the ability to offer Rubio a 5-year deal will make it more likely he will stay in Minnesota and not flee to New York or LA when he has the chance to. Not to knock on Love, but Rubio is the biggest game changer on our roster and has the potential to be one of the greatest point guards to ever play the game. Derrick Williams also possesses the potential to be a true go-to scorer in the NBA, being able to play both PF and SF.
Let’s not forget about GM David Kahn, head coach Rick Adelman and owner Glen Taylor, the men who made all of this possible. Glen Taylor has showed this year that he is devoted to making this Timberwolves team a winner going forward and has been spending big despite the large losses he has endured over the last several seasons. Kahn was able to convince Love to take the 4-year deal instead of 5, selling to Love that it would be in the team’s best interests going forward and would put the team in the best position to win in the future. I also believe that Love would not have signed an extension with Minnesota had it not have been for the hiring of Rick Adelman, a family friend of Love’s and one of the best head coaches in the NBA. Adelman has done a fantastic job turning this team around and the best basketball is still yet to be played by the Pups.
With Rubio, Love, and Williams under team control through at least 2014-15, the team will certainly be an attractive destination for free agents looking to win. The Timberwolves young core is arguably as good as any in the NBA, and it will be very exciting to watch this team grow into a potential powerhouse in the NBA for years to come.