Like it or not, the Kevin Love watch is underway for Timberwolves, NBA

It’s hard to imagine any sports city in America that has wasted the careers of so many of its athletes.

Joe Mauer is probably never going to win a World Series. Adrian Peterson’s best years may be behind him now, and the Minnesota Timberwolves have wasted Kevin Love’s time in Minnesota so far. Is that time up?

Rumors are swirling around the national sports media that the Timberwolves and the Los Angeles Lakers are working on a deal that would ship Love to the Lakers. The Coast-centric ESPN treats it as inevitable as the NBA trading deadline approaches. Love can opt out of his Minnesota contract in 2015.

It’s hard to know for sure whether the rumors are wishful thinking, or the beginning of the end for Love here, but the exercise is familiar to Minnesota sports fans. No matter what Love says — and he told a magazine recently he’s having fun here — Minnesota fans have assumed Love would inevitably leave us because, well, we’re Minnesota, and he’s not from here. That feeling only intensified this season as the Timberwolves laid another egg in their promise to become a respectable NBA franchise.

If you want to talk distractions, this situation is it. In every NBA city now, Love will be asked about maybe playing there someday. Over the weekend, someone from Boston asked him about playing for the Celtics. Love responded that he doesn’t know much about Boston, but it seems like a great city. Upon that predictable quote came the stories that Boston has emerged as a suitor for Love.

At stake, however, is the credibility of Timberwolves owner Glenn Taylor and the franchise.

Taylor has freely spent money over the years to improve his squad, but an often-incompetent front office has squandered it. Taylor tried to sell his team a year ago, but nobody was buying. The Timberwolves will be the primary beneficiary of a renovated Target Center, part of the Zygi Wilf shakedown for a new stadium for the Vikings.

And in its current drive to get a dwindling season ticket base to renew, the Timberwolves aren’t mentioning Love, but a better “fan experience” in a better arena. In truth, however, they didn’t mention Love in last year’s renewal campaign either.

The timing of the NBA trade deadline and the Love rumors couldn’t be worse. The deadline for season ticket holders to renew for next season is February 26, forcing fans to purchase tickets on faith that Kevin Love will still be here when next season opens.

  • From the Times:

    The amateur mind-reading bothers Kevin Love the most, even though he caused most of it. …

    To Love, however, none of this conjecture makes sense. If he had “checked out,” as Love put it, why did he fly back to Minnesota last summer to meet with Mayo Clinic representatives about a new downtown practice center? (The Timberwolves needed a project partner, and Mayo ultimately signed on.)

    Why, Love asked, is he the liaison between the players and the center’s design team? Why does he sit in on marketing meetings and talk to sponsors? Why did he take out a full-page ad in the Star Tribune on Feb. 9 to thank Timberwolves fans for helping make him an All-Star starter for the first time? And why does he take a continual physical pounding for a team struggling to reach .500?

    “A lot of stuff had been said in the past,” Love, 25, said after a recent practice at Target Center. “There’s even stuff that came out two weeks ago, today, all over the place. I’m invested in this team, and long term, I’m invested in this team. I’m happy here.”

    • You’re whistling by the graveyard.

      • Sports aren’t a graveyard to me. I enjoy them because I don’t let big market sports media tell me what I should pay attention to.

        Y’all can worry about Love. I’ll enjoy watching an entertaining Wolves team as they eclipse this sorry franchise’s record for single-season wins without KG. If Love leaves, the Wolves will still be my team.

  • “It’s hard to imagine any sports city in America that has wasted the careers of so many of its athletes.”

    Players with wasted careers:
    Ernie Banks, Elgin Baylor, Barry Bonds, Earl Campbell, Ty Cobb, Patrick Ewing, Reggie Miller, every Red Sox player from 1918 – 2004, Ken Griffey Jr., Allen Iverson, Karl Malone, Dan Marino, Steve Nash, Barry Sanders, John Stockton, etc.

    Since 1980, every NBA champion has been from Boston, LA, Detroit, Chicago, Miami or San Antonio. The four exceptions: 1983 Philadelphia 76ers, 2011 Dallas Mavericks, and the Houston Rockets in 94 and 95. The dirty secret of the NBA is that small markets never win championships (unless you have the holy trinity of Gregg Popovich, Tim Duncan and R.C. Burford).

    Only finding meaning in championships is a sure-fire way to become a self-hating sports fan.

    • Name me another city that at one point had three teams with the best player in their respective games at the same time and had nothing to show for it.

      Other 1967, the Red Sox didn’t have the game’s best players, and even when they did, the Bruins and Celtics were winning chamionships.

      • LeBron James is the best player in the NBA, followed by Kevin Durant, Chris Paul and perhaps Paul George.

        I love to hear Mauer described as the best player in baseball, but even in his MVP season, Ben Zobrist, Zack Greinke, Albert Pujols and Chase Utley had higher WAR, and Pujols, Hanely Ramirez, Adrian Gonzalez, Ryan Braun and Utley were better in Win Shares. Pujols was the best in 2009. Mike Trout is the best now.

        I don’t know football well enough to say if Adrian Peterson is actually the best player in the sport but I’d imagine an elite quarterback is more valuable.

        Go pick on Cleveland 😉

        • So, basically, your answer is “I can’t.”

          Joe Mauer is going to the Hall of Fame, Kevin Love is going to the Hall of Fame, and Adrian Peterson is going to the Hall of Fame. They all played in the same city at the same time, at the lows of their respective franchises.

          • Seattle in the 90s. Hall of Famers Cortez Kennedy, Gary Payton and Ken Griffey Jr.

          • In 12 years with the Sonics, Payton’s teams went to the playoffs 10 times. He finished with the WEstern Conference best record and went to the NBA finals. Ken Griffey went to the playoffs twice, including the championshp series.

          • Such a shame their careers ended up wasted because they couldn’t win that championship. 😉

          • Phoenix this past decade. Hall of Famers: Larry FItzgerald, Steve Nash and Justin Upton

          • Justin Upton — and, really? Justin Upton — has been to the playoffs three times, including a championship series. Fitzgerald has been to the postseason four times, including a Super Bowl. In the six years he played for the Suns, Nash went to the playoffs five times.

          • Mauer has been to the playoffs 3 times. Adrian has played in the NFC Championship game.

          • Cleveland in the 90s. Mark Price, Jim Thome, and uhhh does Bill Belichick count? Having Hall of Fame Players is better than just being terrible I guess.

          • You can call this the low point for the Twins franchise, but Joe Mauer won 3 division titles in 5 years and would have had another one in 2008 if it weren’t for a single Jim Thome home run. Adrian has been to the playoffs three times already.