Minnesota gets Love on its terms — and a lot of pressure
Minnesota, a franchise known for handing out ridiculous contracts — hello Wally Szczerbiak! — picked now to become frugal. Kevin Love wanted a five-year, $80 million max extension to his rookie deal, but Minnesota wouldn’t give it. Four years, $62 million was the offer on the table.
Minnesota won the battle Wednesday, they got their man. On their terms.
But the war is not over.
Love demanded and got an opt-out after three years. Minnesota will keep him happy and build a winner in that time or Love can walk as an unrestricted free agent. If you don’t think that can happen, ask Cleveland.
Look at what Love told NBA.com.
Love said all the right things — he spoke about how he wants to be in Minnesota and how great the fans and his teammates are — but we’ve heard all of that before from stars who skipped town.
The way Minnesota handled this created some bad blood. Love considered becoming a restricted free agent and not taking this deal. Here is what he said to Jerry Zgoda of the Star-Tribune.
Winning will cure any issues. Building a contender will make smooth sailing with Love. But fall short and, well, we’ve seen it elsewhere.
Minnesota wanted flexibility. They wanted to keep the one “designated player” five-year deal they could offer in their back pocket (probably for Ricky Rubio, although that issue is three years away). They got it. It’s all yours, GM David Kahn. The lockout hawk owner Glen Taylor looked tough.
But now you had better use that flexibility wisely to build a real powerhouse. Free agents to be (and their agents) just saw you play hardball with the face of the franchise and that is going to make them hesitate before joining your team. Use that flexibility to draw them in. Or else.
Because without Kevin Love you are not a contender. You’re not a playoff team. And he has given you a warning that things had better be very good in three years or he may take his talents south. Or West. Or East. But somewhere else.