Love expressed a number of doubts about his future with the organization (via Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! Sports) that could ultimately serve as precursor two his departure when he is eligible to explore free agency in 2015:
Between now and his 2015 opt-out, Love wants to be clear: Around him, he doesn’t want merely a playoff team. He wants a team that contends. “And that’s on me to do my part, to get us there,” but the organization has lost the benefit of the doubt with Love. When it’s time for every franchise in the NBA to clear cap space and try to sign him, Love simply understands: “I’ll have the leverage.”
Love will never get over how badly he wanted the designation as the Wolves’ franchise player, how deeply he believed it had been deserved and how Kahn was so smugly defiant in refusing to recognize it. When the Wolves should’ve been throwing a parade that Love wanted a five-year maximum contract designation a year ago, the franchise could forever regret the consequences of telling a superstar player he wasn’t worth that commitment.
For a player that has never been more effective playing for a team that hasn’t been this successful in nearly a decade, such sentiments may seem confusing.
Except they aren’t.
Love wasn’t given the superstar treatment when re-signed with Minnesota. He wasn’t given the cornerstone treatment when the Timberwolves made brash decisions like trading away Al Jefferson. And he still isn’t receiving the treatment he believes he deserves, otherwise, this would be a non-issue.
Instead, Love is looking forward to a time when he has leverage, when he has the ability to dictate what happens next. While some will undoubtedly deem this potentially damaging to Minnesota’s dynamic, I see it as just the opposite.
This is a chance for the Timberwolves and Love’s marriage to flourish. They now have to prove to him that they value him and he must continue to prove to them he’s the superstar they didn’t recognize but a year ago.
Don’t mistake’s Love’s ambiguous words as a sign of hopelessness. If anything, the Minnesota faithful should be delighted that he is so committed to contending. Believing that he will never be happy with the Timberwolves then, is shortshighted and incredibly wrong.
Sure, he and David Kahn may not be on the best of terms, and yes, the fact that the Timberwolves can offer him more money than any other team in a little over two years does give them some leverage. But Love holds most of it. And that’s a good thing.
Now, the Timberwolves will have to think twice before decimating their roster. Now, they must understand a revolving roster has consequences. Now, they must understand that almost good enough isn’t going to be, well,good enough.
Truth be told, Love’s public doubt, his undeniable skepticism is just what Minnesota needed—motivation to take this entity to the next step. Motivation to move forward with a core of their star forward and Ricky Rubio.
Motivation to, for the first time, ensure that keeping Love happy is an actual priority.
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.