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The Extra Pass: The Minnesota Timberwolves are on the clock

Feb 11, 2014, 8:00 AM EDT

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10 days before the trade deadline. 30 games left in the season. One contract year remaining.

To say this is one of the most important time frames in the history of the Minnesota Timberwolves franchise isn’t overly dramatic or hyperbolic. It’s reality.

Minnesota has never won a championship. 25 years, no rings, and an overall winning percentage below 40 percent. There isn’t much of a history to be forgotten when making statements like the one above.

In fact, very few transcendent talents have ever even suited up for the Wolves. When you think back of all the players over the years, only the two Kevins really spring to mind.

The first Kevin, of course, showed tremendous loyalty and stayed with the team for 12 years. At the peak of his powers, Garnett was able to turn Minnesota into a consistent winner, but he wasted his prime on bad rosters that were mangled by management. Wally Szczerbiak was genuinely one of the best players Garnett got to play with. Yes, it was that bad.

The second Kevin has dealt with worse, though. Whether it was a coach who wouldn’t play him early in his career, management that wouldn’t pay him coming off his rookie deal, or the same failure to put enough talent around him, Love hasn’t even felt the small success of a playoff series to tide him over halfway through the same amount of time KG spent in Minnesota.

Garnett was loyal to a fault, sure, but at least he had some semblance of hope that the Wolves could reach the next level with him on board. He had reason for his faith.

The same can’t be said for Love, and so the Wolves are essentially on the clock to somehow change that.

That means there’s 10 days to make a franchise-altering trade, 30 games to make up a seven-game deficit in the standings, and just one contract year left before Love can bolt in free agency.

History won’t be kind to Minnesota if they fail again with such a talented power forward in tow. We may remember the details of why Minnesota has struggled now with perfect clarity — David Kahn, all the injuries and bad luck, all the losses that should have been wins — but if Minnesota loses such a tremendously talented player after just six seasons? It will be a complete failure on every level.

So what should Minnesota do? Each potential course of action comes with great risk. Trade future draft picks for an impact player now, and maybe that handicaps the rebuilding period if Love ends up leaving anyway. Trade Love now before he can leave for nothing, and maybe it’s the Al Jefferson era all over again.

That being said, doing nothing at all might be the most indefensible decision available. Without Kevin Martin and Nikola Pekovic in the lineup, the Wolves lost by 18 at home to the Houston Rockets, a team that didn’t seem that far off in the distance just a few weeks ago. But the game illustrated a point: the Wolves are getting weaker, the West is getting stronger, and Love’s big games aren’t making much of a difference anymore.

It begs the question: how much longer will Love accept this as his fate? One more full season? Less?

We’ve seen in the past that superstars can get out of situations they don’t want to be in. Carmelo Anthony did. Deron Williams and Chris Paul did, too. Love wasn’t always on that level, but he is now, even if he’s still a flawed defender and a generally high maintenance player. Regardless, he’s good enough to have every team want him at any price. He holds all the cards here.

Flip Saunders and the rest of Minnesota’s front office know this. They are at the mercy of his pending decision. At this pace, though, Love’s patience is going to run out well before his contract does. There are excuses available for Minnesota’s lack of success, but none are going to be good enough to keep Love around. He needs real reasons to want to stay.

Love may be short on those right now, just as the Wolves are short on time.

10 days, 30 games, one more year. Minnesota, you’re on the clock.

  1. odenxx - Feb 11, 2014 at 8:39 AM

    If it were me, I would trade him. I never understand why the small-market teams try to be big market like. just be a B+ team get some real history behind you and a lot of wins. Like Memphis grizzlies. He only wants to go to Lakers or the Knicks from what I’ve read. So the Lakers have absolutely no one worth trading for so trade him to Knicks expiring contracts young talent Tim Hardaway Jr??? You could get a kings ransom from the Knicks right now. Plus sticking it to the Lakers has got to feel pretty good.

    • apkyletexas - Feb 11, 2014 at 11:05 AM

      @odenxx – “I never understand why the small-market teams try to be big market like.”

      Because San Antonio dominated the NBA from 2003-2007, and Indiana is showing the potential to possibly upend the great Heat team this year. Because OK City might have the best team in the league.

      • odenxx - Feb 11, 2014 at 12:02 PM

        Those are two examples of teams that have B+ guys low contracts and good coaches .as far as Indiana Paul George came out of no where(lucky). Tony Parker (lucky)he was like a second round pick and took less money last contract. And so did Tim Duncan (extremely lucky Robinson was out the year before).That’s not Kevin love . He wants max money and big market. you think Minnesota could do that, like they did?ha!

      • nycalldayz - Feb 11, 2014 at 12:43 PM

        It’s not about dominance, but the incompetence of small market teams like the Timberwolves. The Wolves are a notoriously incompetent organization that can never add quality players around it’s superstars (Garnett, Love) like the Spurs, Heat, Thunder and even the Pacers. The Wolves history as far as competent General Managers isn’t good.

        A team can draft a potential superstar, but in order for that star to take his franchise to contention the GM’s job is to add quality players, and possibly another star player.

      • apkyletexas - Feb 11, 2014 at 10:58 PM

        What about the incompetence of the New York Knicks? Philadelphia? Washington?

        Those are not small-market cities, but when was the last time one of those teams made a playoff run? 2001 when Philly went to the finals with Iverson and Dikembe Mutumbo?

  2. maracineanu16 - Feb 11, 2014 at 9:00 AM

    Kahn made that bad decision (regarding KLove’s contract), the Wolves are not going anywhere this season and most probably – the next season also, so I think they have to trade him anyway. I would to see him playing for my favorite Bulls, but he will end-up with the Lakers, IMHO

    • maracineanu16 - Feb 11, 2014 at 9:01 AM

      I wanted to say “I would love to see him…”

    • eugenesaxe1 - Feb 11, 2014 at 5:15 PM

      Yep, Kahn guaranteed Love would be leaving when he wouldn’t give Love the extra year. Hope Rubio was worth it Kahn.
      Oh yeah, I forgot Kahn got canned.

  3. vikesdynasty - Feb 11, 2014 at 9:34 AM

    Why they didn’t trade Pek for Asik (3team trade) some one who can play D is beyond me. They gave him wayyy to much money and is always hurt. Now with Rubio sucking they could’ve made a move for say Lowry had they saved cap room from Pek but nope nope nope. We suck here’s to another 5 years of crap. Honestly I’d try and trade Love right now for that Laker first rounder. Maybe with some luck get a top 5 pick out of it.

    • vikesdynasty - Feb 11, 2014 at 7:32 PM

      LOL all the thumbs down…none of you think the Wolves would be better with this lineup?

      Lowry
      Martin
      Brewer
      Love
      Asik

      And a bunch more cap space. Yeah we’d suck

  4. timberwolvesbrisin - Feb 11, 2014 at 10:46 AM

    Love to LAL for Gasol and their pick. Id start the rebuild immediately. Id much rather watch a tank/rebuild then this team struggle to get to 500. This team needs to rebuild with more athletic, defensive, type players.

    • aboogy123456 - Feb 11, 2014 at 12:14 PM

      If I’m the lakers, why would I give up the high draft pick when I could probably have both in a year from now? The lakers aren’t impatient when it comes to making deals.

      • casualcommenter - Feb 11, 2014 at 3:03 PM

        Yeah, gotta agree with the Laker fan here. The reason why the Wolves have to go all out to try to please Love is that if Love makes it clear that he’s not staying, the Wolves lose any leverage in trade negotiations.

        Unless the Lakers go on a spending spree this upcoming offseason, the Lakers will likely have enough cap room to sign Love in 2015 even if the Wolves don’t agree to participate in a sign-and-trade and even with Kobe’s recent extension.

  5. lakerade - Feb 11, 2014 at 1:04 PM

    I like it. Lakers can just wait, no trading their pick or Pau necessary. Even if Love does get traded elsewhere, he still has the ball in his court come 2015.

  6. luvmnsports2012 - Feb 11, 2014 at 1:11 PM

    Paul Gasol=garbage!

  7. billtetley53 - Feb 11, 2014 at 3:41 PM

    Sorry to burst your bubble, but if they think they will lose him, he will get traded to the Knicks.

    I highly doubt hes going anywhere anyway.

    More wishful thinking on the dumb lakers fans part.

    • therealgrande - Feb 11, 2014 at 4:23 PM

      The Knicks have NOTHING to offer. THJR & who? c’mon, be realistic. The Lakers have more to offer simply based on the draft pick they’re going to have in this upcoming draft.

  8. acrill - Feb 11, 2014 at 4:34 PM

    The Wolves are going to trade Rubio, and offer Love a max contract.

    I don’t see what else they can do. Trading Love would make them a laughingstock and probably kill the franchise entirely.

  9. joeyashwi - Feb 11, 2014 at 7:02 PM

    The Timberwolves are so bad that they have never even been in a rebuild mode. They have been in twenty plus years of trying to build a team. Why even bother anymore? This team will never be relevant.

  10. bryco9 - Feb 11, 2014 at 7:04 PM

    The Knicks and OKC are the only real options out there. Though OKC would probably not be his first pick, pairing up with Durant and fellow UCLA alum Westbrook would make them him a championship contender.

    If he want the big market, big name recognition ship him to the Knicks. Either way a deal can be made. With the Knicks I say Anthony, (only if he signs an extension) Felton, and a 1st rd pick, or Anthony, Hardaway, and Udrih for Love, Barea, and Mbah a Moute.

    If they go with OKC, you go Love for Serge Ibaka, Jeremy Lamb, and Reggie Jackson, and a 1st. Either way the numbers work and all sides win, Love gets out of Minnesota (and everyone knows he desperately wants out) and the Wolves get something useful in return.

    But now back to reality, no trade will happen, and Love will walk out of Minnesota and into the Lakers lap. 2015 NBA championship, Lakers, lead by the trio of Love, Anthony, and Kobe. Oh, I think I just threw up in my mouth.

  11. billtetley53 - Feb 11, 2014 at 10:19 PM

    the real; L.A. is not giving up there draft pick for Love. Dont be so foolish. Another delusional lakers fan.

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