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Is Kirilenko Key to Kevin Love’s Happiness?

July 25, 2012 – Dan Favale

Kevin Love has grown impatient with the below mediocre talent in Minnesota, a reality the Timberwolves are dead set on reversing.

After inking a four-year extension only this past season, Love has little to no leverage on the matter. That said, an unhappy superstar doesn’t exactly spell championships, or even playoffs, so Minnesota isn’t liable to stand idly by.

While a healthy Ricky Rubio gives the team a leg to stand on, the Timberwolves still don’t have a roster that screams bona fide relevancy. They made a push for Nicolas Batum, but their efforts were ultimately proven futile. And while the addition of Brandon Roy does give both Love and Rubio a shooter to kick out to, he’s hardly enough to render them “complete”, especially after sitting out an entire season.

Enter Andrei Kirilenko.

According to Jerry Zgoda of the Star Tribune, Minnesota is reportedly making a strong push to bring Kirilenko stateside, attempting to clear some cap space with the hope he will opt to join their cause.

Kirilenko is a tenaciously versatile defender, who—despite spending last season in Russia—would bring some additional and much needed veteran leadership to the Timberwolves’ locker room. At his peak, he was also a lethal scoring threat as well.

But while Kirilenko presents an opportunity to add the type of two-way difference maker the team so desperately needs, is he enough to push Minnesota to the point of playoff contention? And better yet, he is enough to satisfy the increasingly disconcerted Love?

The answer is both yes and no. What Kirilenko essentially does is buy the Timberwolves time. Bringing him into the fold shows Love—and the rest of the NBA—that they’re committed to getting better, and fast; it proves that they might actually have a blueprint for success and that there is, in fact, a method to their madness.

Long term, though, Kirilenko hardly solves their problem. He will be 32 in February and there’s no guarantee he returns to his former self, or even that he returns to the understated player he was when he finished out his last contract with the Jazz.

Minnesota needs more firepower. It needs at least one other household-type name to anchor in their starting lineup, reverse Love’s current view of the team’s direction and render the Timberwolves a legitimate force to be reckoned with.

So, while Kirilenko’s potential addition is a start, it’s farm from an end; there’s still plenty of work to be done if the Timberwolves wish to set Love’s future with the team in stone.

Dan Favale is a firm believer in the three-pointer as well as the notion that defense doesn’t always win championships. His musings can be found at Bleacherreport.com in addition to TheHoopDoctors.com. Follow @danfavale on Twitter for his latest posts and all things NBA.

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