Much has happened in the year since the Timberwolves shipped Kevin Love to the Cleveland Cavaliers for a bounty of number one draft picks. Contrary to what many had expected, Minnesota fans can feel quite giddy about this trade – especially after watching Love ride the bench with an injury during the NBA Finals.
Love burned more than a few bridges in demanding his way out of Minnesota last summer, which is saying something because he wasn’t a highly endeared player to begin with – he was just the only guy that could play on a terrible team.
Accordingly, observing Love’s season in Cleveland this year was a schadenfreude experience for T-Wolves land. He clashed with LeBron James from the outset over personality and basketball issues, and he made some stupid blunders in the process that all but ensured he wouldn’t be returning in 2015-16 – such as saying Oklahoma City point guard Russell Westbrook should win over MVP over James.
Our friend Love also watched helplessly from the sidelines with a separated shoulder as LeBron failed in his quest to single-handedly defeat the Golden State Warriors for the championship this week.
Had the Cavs pulled off the title, it would have made all the drama about Love wearing out his welcome in Cleveland irrelevant. But because they lost and reverted back to the status quo for LeBron-led Cleveland teams, Minnesotans can grin knowing that we got the better end of the bargain.
Andrew Wiggins, the 2014 number one overall pick and lynchpin of the deal, was as good as advertised – winning Rookie of the Year and giving T-Wolves fans reason for future optimism. Anthony Bennett, the 2013 top pick who was also a part of the trade, is a bust and excess baggage at this point, but may come around to be a serviceable player.
Better yet, the T-Wolves successful yet clandestine tanking performance this season landed them their first ever victory in the draft lottery, meaning they will be able to select a big man to pair with Wiggins moving ahead.
Love has an option on his contract to remain in Cleveland for next season, but it would take a major reconciliation between him and LeBron to see him returning, especially after LeBron expressed his desire for power forward Tristan Thompson, who took over for Love after the injury, to return next year.
Surely, Love and NBA executives realize that he overplayed his hand and has wound up in an embarrassing position.
Not only does he come off as whiny and one who doesn’t play well with others in the sandbox, but the word is out that he’s simply not as good of a player as people were led to believe by his statistical performances in Minnesota. He’s not a leader, he’s not a game changing player and he’s not even a guy you would necessarily want on your non-fantasy team.
I’ve always said that the one thing David Kahn got right in his miserable tenure as Timberwolves GM was to identify Kevin Love as a tier-2 superstar – somebody who needed to be paired with a Kobe or LeBron to be successful.
Using this reasoning, Kahn declined to offer Love the maximum five year deal and instead gave it to Ricky Rubio. This sparked Love’s fit and ultimately led to him forcing his way out, but overall we can be pretty happy about how it all turned out.
If Love ends up crawling back to Flip Saunders in the offseason begging for a job, maybe we’d take him back.