Orioles

Love says he's happy with T-Wolves direction

201212072145783313603-p2.jpeg

Love says he's happy with T-Wolves direction

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) Kevin Love didn't apologize. He didn't make excuses or suggest his words were taken out of context.

What the Minnesota Timberwolves power forward did do on Wednesday in the wake of some harsh words toward the organization was offer some balance to the idea of him as another unhappy star in a small market seemingly destined to move on to bigger and better things.

Love met with the media on Wednesday morning before the Wolves were scheduled to host the Denver Nuggets to address comments he made to Yahoo! Sports that were critical of Timberwolves leadership. In it, he complained about getting a four-year deal instead of the maximum five-year contract extension last January, called into question the plan that team president David Kahn has for building around him and even seemed to hint at a perception that the organization was favoring Ricky Rubio over him in the team's long-term plan.

Love stood by his complaints about his contract and his criticism of Kahn on Wednesday, but also said that he's happy with the direction of the franchise and hopeful he will be here for a long time.

``I'm not going to fall back and say I didn't mean the things that I said,'' Love said. ``I do believe this is the closest-knit team that we have, the coaching staff has been great and we have a chance to make something very special this year and for years to come.''

Love can opt out of his deal in two years, putting more pressure on the organization to help get him to the playoffs for the first time in his career. He said he had no regrets or apologies for making the critical remarks, but he does wish that he would have aired them internally and not in a public setting.

He also said he still sees the possibility of a bright, and long, future for him with the Wolves.

``I'd love to end my career as a Timberwolf,'' he said.

Love's displeasure with his contract has been no secret, practically from the moment he signed it. He wanted the five-year deal and the validation that it brings. But the Wolves can only offer one of their drafted players a five-year deal during the life of the current collective bargaining agreement. There is speculation that they are saving that for Rubio, though Kahn has said that he would prefer not to give that deal to anyone on the roster so the team can have as much salary cap flexibility as possible.

Love has heard the whispers about Rubio getting the five-year deal, and he told Yahoo that ``it was a projection over a sure thing. There's no question there was an agenda here. A different agenda.''

Love and Rubio are close friends, and when asked about it on Wednesday, he continued to heap praise on the point guard who is due to come back from a torn ACL in his left knee any day now.

``I never have a problem with anybody getting paid,'' Love said. ``If there's one other guy to pay on this team it's Ricky Rubio. I've kind of been enamored with him since he got here. He's a pass-first point guard, a guy I haven't really played with before.

``I'm not going to pick favorites but he's one of my favorite teammates and one of the best guys to be around. And I've mentioned since Day 1 that it's refreshing to be around him because he loves the game so much.''

As for his issues with Kahn's roster upheaval the first three years on the job, Love said he was very pleased with the additions that have been made this year. Andrei Kirilenko, Dante Cunningham and Alexey Shved have made the Wolves deeper than they have been in years and also came partly at the behest of Love, who campaigned for more veterans to be added at the end of last season.

Love has always used perceived slights and doubts as fuel. He is constantly working on his game and his body to prove to anyone who thought otherwise that he can be an elite player in the NBA. He proved as much last year by averaging 26 points and 13.3 rebounds per game, then becoming one of the most important players on Team USA's run to the gold medal in the London Olympics.

So in many ways, Love will never forget the contract issue. That's what stars do. They search for motivation wherever they can find it.

``In some people's mental makeup it's just not in them,'' he said of forgetting. ``Just moving forward is the biggest thing. That's the same thing I talked about with coach and with David yesterday. I just need to move forward and hopefully this thing won't keep coming up. I'm done talking about it, really from here on out after today. I'm hoping we can just move on and winning will take care of everything.''

---

Follow Jon Krawczynski on Twitter:http://twitter.com/APkrawczynski

Quick Links

Who is Mike Elias?

usatsi_11324196.jpg
USA Today Sports Images

Who is Mike Elias?

Where to begin after a team loses 115 games? That’s the main question settling into Mike Elias’ future when he takes over the Baltimore Orioles' beached ship.

Multiple reports have pegged Elias as the Orioles new general manager. He’s yet another front office member of the Houston Astros to be plucked by an outside organization for a larger role. He’s young, comes from an analytics-fueled front office and walks into a job where there only seems to be one direction to go following last season. 

Elias also has local ties. The 36-year-old is a graduate of Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology in Alexandria. He went to Yale where he worked four seasons as a left-handed pitcher. Elias jumped into scouting for the St. Louis Cardinals directly after graduation.

Similar to Nationals manager Mike Rizzo, Elias moved up from a scouting baseline to a prominent decision-maker in the front office. Elias was ported from St. Louis to Houston when the Astros hired Jeff Luhnow to become general manager in 2011. The duo, and rest of the front office took over a team that was about to embark on three consecutive seasons with 100 losses or more. The organization became notable around the league for its fervent reworking of approach and willingness to absorb losses to vault to the top of the annual draft.

In 2012, the Astros selected Carlos Correa No. 1 overall. Elias, then a special assistant to the general manager, has received a large amount of the credit for taking a shortstop who became Rookie of the Year and an All-Star. Nine of the Astros’ 14 selections that year made it to the major leagues. Not all with the Astros. Not all with a large degree of success. But, they made it.

Houston selected burgeoning All-Star Alex Bregman with the No. 2 overall pick in 2015. 

However, the Astros’ high-end draft history wasn’t perfect with Luhnow and Elias in place. They selected Stanford starter Mark Appel with the No. 1 overall pick in 2013. Just 27, he is out of baseball after never making it past Triple A. The Astros took Brady Aiken with the top overall pick in 2014. He never signed. 

Yet, the organization continued to turn. Bregman developed into a star. Jose Altuve won the MVP award, Lance McCullers, also part of the 2012 class, became an All-Star. Four years after Luhnow arrived to reverse the organization’s course, the Astros had a winning season and reached the postseason. Two years later they won the World Series.

Hiring Elias signals the Orioles, long viewed as one of the stodgier organizations in baseball, are shifting to the modern era. Baltimore was known more for its reticence to embrace analytics as opposed to its use of the information. The move may also calm the ongoing rotation of the front office bosses. Elias will be the organization’s fourth general manager since the Nationals started playing baseball again in the District in 2005. 

Among Elias’ initial tasks is finding a new manager. The Orioles fired Buck Showalter after 8 ½ seasons. Three of them led to the postseason. But, the mess of last season forced a change.

They also need to hit in the draft. The Orioles hold the 2019 top overall pick.

Elias will try to conjure a way to resuscitate the Orioles while fighting the expansive cash flow of the New York Yankees and World Series champion Boston Red Sox within the division. 

He’s been part of turnarounds before. This one would fully be in his hands.

Quick Links

Morrissey avoids suspension for Oshie body slam in a decision that makes little sense

oshie-morrissey.jpg
USA Today Sports Images

Morrissey avoids suspension for Oshie body slam in a decision that makes little sense

The Department of Player Safety announced Thursday that Winnipeg Jets defenseman Josh Morrissey was fined $8,467.74 for his body slam of T.J. Oshie in Wednesday’s game. It is a punishment that falls well short of the standard the DPS itself set earlier this season.

Late in Wednesday’s game between the Caps and Jets, Oshie skated to the corner of the offensive zone after the puck while locked in a physical battle with Morrissey. Morrissey checked Oshie into the boards, then, as he was falling back, Morrissey slammed Oshie down to the ice. Oshie appeared to be dazed after the play which is troubling given his history of concussions.

There is nothing wrong with the initial hit. Both players were battling for the puck making Oshie eligible to be hit. The problem is after the hit when Morrissey slams him to the ice afterward, which is unnecessary and dangerous.

Oh, c’mon, you may be saying, Morrissey was just finishing his check! That’s not an argument anymore considering the DPS already suspended a player for doing the exact same thing earlier this season when Florida Panthers defenseman Mike Matheson slammed Vancouver Canucks rookie Elias Pettersson to the ice. Matheson was suspended two games for the play.

Matheson’s suspension was a matter of some debate within the hockey community not just because some argued Matheson was finishing his check on a hockey play, but because it was made to look worse by the fact that Pettersson is only 176 pounds, nearly 20 pounds lighter than Matheson. The DPS didn’t buy it and Matheson was suspended.

If you compare the Morrissey and the Matheson hits, they are very similar. Matheson hits Pettersson with a legal check, just as Morrissey did with Oshie. Matheson then slammed Pettersson to the ice after the initial check, just as Morrissey did with Oshie. One can quibble somewhat with the fact that Petterrsson’s skates came off the ice making the throw down more violent, but the two plays are similar enough that, in my opinion, it is fair to compare them and the corresponding punishment. In fact, one could easily argue that the Morrissey hit is worse considering he and Oshie are both listed as 195 pounds. Oshie didn’t go down to the ice because of a size disparity, Morrissey had to physically slam him down.

In addition, Morrissey is considered a repeat offender after getting suspended in the 2018 playoffs for a crosscheck to Minnesota Wild forward Eric Staal. To be fair, being a repeat offender is not supposed to affect the DPS’s decision on whether a play is worthy of a suspension or not, it is only meant to be taken into consideration when determining the length of a suspension.

But the remains that the DPS was presented with two very similar plays within one month of each other and came up with two completely different punishments. That is more than a little head scratching.

The DPS has one of the toughest jobs in hockey. No matter what they do, most people are going to be unhappy with the decisions they make. It’s the nature of the job when it comes to determining supplemental discipline. Having said that, the one thing people should be able to expect from the DPS is consistency. The Morrissey hit on Oshie seemed like a slam-dunk considering a very similar play happened a month before and resulted in a two-game suspension.

But hey, Caps fans can at least take comfort in the fact that Morrissey was issued the maximum fine allowed by the CBA. So there’s that.

MORE CAPITALS NEWS: