Flip Saunders still isn’t over Kevin Love

Cleveland Cavaliers’ Kevin Love (0) sizes up Charlotte Hornets’ Cody Zeller in an NBA basketball game last week in Cleveland. AP Photo/Mark Duncan.
Flip Saunders, the coach of the Minnesota Timberwolves, shifted attention from his worst-in-the-west (and not by a little) franchise by delivering yet another shot at Love, whom the Wolves will play tomorrow night in Cleveland.

He did it a perfectly Minnesotan passive aggressive way.

He made the comment after saying he harbors “no grudges” against Love, who had a contract the Timberwolves gave him years ago with the right to opt out of it. Love, like many other past players for the Timberwolves, made no secret of his disdain for losing.

Kelly Dwyer at Yahoo Sports’ “Ball Don’t Lie,” notes that it was the Timberwolves who turned their back on Love when previous general manager David Kahn offered him only a three-year deal instead of the maximum five-year contract Love was seeking.

The guy that was given either incompetent or uninspired coaches throughout his NBA career in Minnesota, somehow “turned” on the state.

The man who had to watch as the team spent lottery draft picks on Ricky Rubio (a career 37 percent shooter), Jonny Flynn, Wesley Johnson, Wayne Ellington, and Derrick Williams totally “turned on Minnesota.”

(It should be noted that, in David Kahn and Flip Saunders’ drafting defense, the team did also draft Ty Lawson, Trey Burke, and Mario Chalmers during that span, but they also traded all those dudes away on draft night.)

Kevin Love is also the All-Star that had per-minute All-Star level production immediately from the outset of his NBA career, production that Kahn-hire Kurt Rambis failed to notice because he only paid attention to box scores from last night’s paper (presuming the west coast scores made it in before deadline) while running the worst version of the triangle offense I’ve seen since my attempts to initiate triangle cuts on my intramural team in college.

Saunders knows all of that. And so do many of the knowledgeable basketball fans who know a disastrous franchise when they see it. The fans who have an inferiority complex and can’t separate life from the athletes they follow? I suspect we’ll be hearing from them when the two teams play in Minnesota in late January.

Kevin Love wanted to win. Imagine that.

  • MNS

    I find it very interesting as a Wolves fan how he desperately wanted to win, but never did the small things to make it happen. Were his stats great? Of course you couldn’t ask more from him for points and rebounds. Did he ever consistently play defense to wins games? No. He complained that they didn’t pay him, well they paid him the max, but didn’t give him the max years, even though he never brought the Wolves to the playoffs, or even really got them close to the playoffs. He wanted the wolves to treat him as an elite number one player, but in the end, he never performed to that level. Now he has been traded, and is a number 3 player (which is about right for him) on a playoff team. So for me, I will not boo him, but I am also not be sad that he is gone. The wolves are in the same position as they were when he was here. Not a playoff team…

    • I hear that on talk shows — that he didn’t do the little things. How do we know that?

      Also, when a player is voted MVP, how it that we say he never played to an elite level?

      and if he’s on a playoff team now, does that mean he’s NOW doing the little things?

      • MNS

        He demanded that he be paid the level of a player that continually leads the team to the playoffs. He never even approached that with the wolves. The intangibles that make a player great are what makes the players around him or her better. So yeah personal stats are great, they are easy to measure, but the most impoartant stat in team sports is winning or losing. He never lead the team to wins, so is he really as great as he thinks he is? I truly believe he is not doing the little things now, and even though Cleveland is a playoff team, he isn’t helping them attain those wins. He fits the role that he is in now as not the first or even second option on a team. I feel he is just not the player that he thinks he is.
        With that said, are the wolves worse off for not paying him that final year and upsetting him? They were able to move him for a lot of young unproven talent and still they are in the same position as they were with Kevin Love, not a playoff team, while not being subject to paying a MAX contract allowing flexibility for the future.

        • Wes Johnson went to the Lakers and Kobe Bryant couldn’t make him better. LeBron James couldn’t make Mike Beasley better.

          In fact, name one player that Kevin Love played with in Minnesota, who went somewhere else, played with an All Star caliber player, and got better.

          • MNS

            Great point, the talent was probably not great around him, granted I don’t think anybody could make those 2 guys better. A good question would be is Love better if it is Curry and Rubio instead of Rubio and Flynn? Or if that is the scenario is Curry the number 1 player and Love is not considered this ‘elite’ player? I still personally think Love is not as elite as he views himself. He made nothing but excuses while he was here, even though he was the number 1 guy. I guess in the end I am glad they didn’t give him that extra year and he wanted to leave because the wolves were able to trade him for some possible high end talent, when we all knew he never wanted to stay in Minnesota. Great debate Bob!
            Happy Holidays,
            Mike

          • I got what I paid for with Love. That 30/30 night was one of the best sports highlights of any game I’ve ever been too. And the #Twolves jacked up ticket prices because of Love, and then didn’t lower them to adjust for the resulting product, which is substandard.

            The thing that’s interesting about Love is that the fans and the media conspired to create is image. They focused on “did Kevin get his double double” every. single. night.

            The game stories the next day were CONSISTENTLY interviews with opposing coaches and players who were coached to say something good about Kevin Love.

            And then, when Love made a business decision in what is essentially a business, the media and fans howl that the only thing Kevin Love cared about was Kevin Love.

          • MNS

            Agreed, that 30/30 game against the knicks was fun to watch, and I also agree about the ticket prices. We had season tickets in a lower corner for about 10 bucks a seat, a great deal, but as soon as the team thought they were going to get better they doubled the prices. Needless to say it was the last year we had tickets. At the same time, though, Love had set the expectations with his great stats, but with that wins didn’t come. So i guess it boils down what is more important, a single players stats or a team winning? I enjoyed watching Love’s individual statistical performance but hated that he and the team didn’t really seem interested in winning, regardless of what he said, and I think fans can be allowed to be frustrated with that. As for being mad at him for leaving I will not be mad at him, I just don’t 100% agree with his assertion that he deserves a MAX contract. I also like your last statment ‘Fans howl’ well played sir!

  • MikeB

    For Wolves management, and casual fans, it’s always someone else’s fault.