Wolves owner Taylor: Team keeping Love for now
Some soap operas conclude where they commenced.
This one probably won’t. But one of its main characters continues, despite strong evidence to the contrary, to entertain the notion that it will.
Keeping in line with previous public comments regarding his NBA franchise’s indignant superstar, Timberwolves owner Glen Taylor said Wednesday the team plans on having Kevin Love in tow when it commences training camp in October. That’s a stark contradiction from the top of the franchise toward summer-long reports that Love’s told Minnesota he’ll opt out of 2015-16, the final year on his contract, if he’s not traded before the end of the upcoming season.
"Our plans are he’s going to stay, and we’re going to prepare for him and have him be part of our season this year," Taylor told NBA TV during the Wolves’ summer-league game in Las Vegas. "There’s a lot of speculation that he wants to go to another team. I guess my response to that (is) we’re going to look at anything that makes sense that would make our team better. But we’re not going to just move a superb player like that without getting equal or more value back."
Golden State and Cleveland appear to be the two most likely Love suitors for the moment. Per reports, the Cavs have offered Minnesota several pieces for Kevin Love as the Warriors did earlier this offseason.
But Golden State general manager Bob Myers has yet to include sharpshooter Klay Thompson in a deal, though a Tuesday Associated Press report said he and Saunders have resumed trade talks in Las Vegas. Cleveland, in turn, isn’t yet willing to depart with No. 1 overall draft pick Andrew Wiggins.
And coach and president of basketball operations Flip Saunders isn’t about to trade the No. 5 overall pick in the 2008 draft without receiving a marquee asset in return.
Love has said this summer he wants to play for a contender and seethes at the fact he hasn’t been to the playoffs in six NBA seasons. His disgruntlement dates back to 2012 when Taylor and owner David Kahn declined to give him a max deal.
Such an extension this time around would offer him up to $26.5 million, more than any other team can dangle in free agency. But Love’s priorities, despite his close attention to his self-image and perception, appear to go beyond dollars.
"What Kevin has said to me is that he wants to win," Taylor said. "What I say back to him is, ‘Kevin, well, that’s all I want, too.’ So my preference is Kevin will come to camp — and I’m sure he will — play with the team, put a roster around him and then we win, and then I think that he’ll find out that Minnesota has the same thing that he wants, and that is a chance to win and get into the playoffs.
"I don’t think less of him for saying he wants to get into the playoffs, because it’s what I want, too."
So Taylor is comfortable with a seemingly uncomfortable scenario — Love reporting for training camp and walking out of the Target Center tunnel for the season opener before a contingent of fans used to seeing their stars end up somewhere else (Kevin Garnett, David Ortiz, etc.). Things could get icy in a hurry, especially if the Wolves get off to a slow start.
And Love’s not the only pillar player whose future is on the line.
Technically, Minnesota has the rights to point guard Ricky Rubio for the next two seasons. But the team and agent Dan Fegan have begun negotiating his extension, and the Spaniard’s camp is expected to push for a five-year, max deal.
But a lack of point production renders Rubio less than worthy of such designation in the organization’s eyes. Taylor said he sees Rubio taking the next step, but the fifth pick in the 2009 draft has to prove he can first.
If the two sides don’t come to an agreement, Rubio could earn $5.2 million and become a restricted free agent next summer.
"I think he’s going through a time in his life that is different than any before," Taylor said of Rubio, who ranked toward the bottom of starting NBA point guards in shooting 38.1 percent and averaging 9.5 points per game last season. "I think it is the first time in his life he’s sort of questioning himself a little bit. I think it will make him a better player. I think we have to be patient. I think he has to be patient."
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