Things are not looking too good in Minnesota, as Kevin Love has once again come out stating his unhappiness with the Timberwolves’ roster turnover. Love recently questioned the moves the team has made, complaining about all of the new faces he sees year after year. Owner Glen Taylor then fought back stating that if he was a true star, he would have been in the playoffs by now. Both men are wrong in this case, as Love has not had a good enough cast to get to the playoffs in the ultra-competitive Western Conference, but at the same time, the team has improved ten-folds since Love has been drafted.
Love must understand that Minnesota is the last place that players want to go to, as they have never been very good and Minnesota is the coldest of all NBA markets. The fact that Taylor and GM David Kahn have done as well as they have collecting talent, they should be commended. They have quietly assembled a playoff caliber team and Love should understand that building a contender takes time. The Timberwolves will never get the top free agents and must draft solid players and be creative with their free agent signings and although their drafting has been suspect at times, they have done a great job in free agency.
The team’s international scouting has been brilliant, as they stole starting center Nikola Pekovic in the second round, picked up Russian guard, Alexey Shved and of course, drafted starting point guard Ricky Rubio. Pekovic has become one of the better centers in the league and is a fantastic offensive player and rebounder. Shved has been one of the best rookies in the league this year, is an explosive scorer and a fantastic distributor. He should be a long-term starter for this team. Drafting Rubio was a risky proposition, as they did not know if he would ever want to play for them and when he could even come to the NBA (it took 2 years), because of contractual issues. However, he is now in Minnesota and has become a sensation, as he is one of the best passers and ball-handlers in the NBA and he has become a franchise cornerstone.
Knowing that they would have difficulty bringing in big-time free agents, they have had to overspend a little bit to fill out the roster, but they have assembled a fantastic group of role players. JJ Barea brings scoring off the bench, Andre Kirilenko is one of the better two-way perimeter players in the NBA, Luke Ridnour is a very solid point guard and they were able to land Brandon Roy and Chase Budinger on very friendly contracts. Make no doubts about it, these Timberwolves should be playing better than they have been, but they have been without Love, Budinger and Roy for long stretches and have just gotten Rubio on the court for the first time all year. Yes, there has been turnover but the roster has been upgraded substantially.
Love does have two legitimate reasons to be unhappy with management. First, they refused to give him the maximum five-year contract he deserved, for whatever reason, as he is without any doubt, worth every dollar of a max contract. Taylor and Kahn made a huge mistake in that regard. He has a right to be unhappy, but he cannot let frustrations spill out to the media. Secondly, other than Rubio and Pekovic, they have simply been horrible at drafting. Johnny Flynn, Wesley Johnson were both massive busts in back to back years, after being drafted sixth and fourth respectively. Also, last year’s second overall draft pick, Derrick Williams, can barely crack the rotation, as he is without a true position and cannot find his way in their system. The problem with Williams is that he should be a power forward, but with Love there, minutes will be limited and he is not a good enough perimeter player to play outside. He has talent, but if his time in the NBA so far is any indication, he looks to be a wasted pick as well. There have also been plenty of trade rumors with Williams, so he may not be with the team too much longer. That is 3 poor top six picks in the matter of 4 years, which is completely unacceptable for any team. A small market team must draft well if they are to succeed and Love has every reason to be frustrated, but the team has made up for those misses with their excellent international bring ins and free agent signings.
Love does have legitimate reasons for concern, but he has a much-improved team and a roster capable of making the playoffs very soon. He is the leader of this team and must lead by example and leave his frustrations in the locker room. Changes are a legitimate part of the league and players will come in and out of the organization every year, but if these changes are improvements, as they have been, then he should be happy. He has the option of leaving the team in a few years and if he wants to leave, then he has every right, but for now he is being paid a lot of money to lead the team to wins and to be a leader in the locker room and he simply cannot go to the media with his problems, they must stay within the locker room. He must understand that those words have a negative effect on the other players and as a leader he cannot have that happen. There is hope for Minnesota and if Love gives Kahn and Taylor a little more time he will be able to lead a team into the playoffs. But for now, just keep your mouth shut and your frustrations inward and play some bball.