Despite winning four of their last five games, all the noise in Minnesota is about Kevin Love criticizing the Timberwolves for a number of things. One of them was possibly putting Ricky Rubio in front of him in the franchise player list. Coincidentally, Rubio is set to make his return after nearly a year on Saturday, at home against the Mavericks.
Maybe that will calm things down as Kevin Love, who missed the first nine games of the season, returning at the end of a losing streak, seems to have taken a step forward in his push to get the organization to improve and achieve, something that hasn’t happened since he was drafted. In truth, Minnesota made the right moves during the last couple of years, but it seems injuries have derailed their good start. Now, back to a plus .500 record and Rubio coming back, things might change.
But nothing changes the exchange of Love and his management, saying he doesn’t understand if there’s actually a plan to improve, seeing new guys in the locker room each season he shows up for training camp. He also posted some sort of ultimatum: If in the next two years we don’t make the postseason twice, I’m not saying. He didn’t use those exact words, but it was easy to understand what he was meaning.
After some backlash from the media, including the team’s owner, who said Love isn’t a star because he hasn’t led this team to playoff yet, Love still doesn’t think he should apologize.
A lot of athletes these days say the right thing and aren’t outspoken. I’m not going to go forward and say I have anything to apologize about. I said what I felt. I didn’t mean to alienate my team, my coaches, the organization or more importantly the fans … I said a lot of things about the team and where we’re at this point and I’ll continue to say it throughout the year because that’s how I feel. I’m not going to fall back and say I didn’t mean the things that I said. I do believe this is the closest-knit team that we have, the coaching staff has been great and we have a chance to make something very special this year and for years to come.
Something that might have triggered Love’s outburst towards the team was hearing that Ricky Rubio, someone who hasn’t even completed a full season for the team, might be getting a five year contract on his extension, while Love only got four years (two remaining) instead of the max-five he wanted. Love is averaging 19.9 points and 14.2 rebounds since his return from a broken hand. He finished with only 8 points (3-17 from the field) and added 14 rebounds in the 108-105 win over the Denver Nuggets.
Ricky Rubio, who hasn’t played since March 2012, averaged 10.6 points, 8.2 assists and 4.2 rebounds during his rookie campaign for the Timberwolves, who were above .500 and in a position for the playoffs before his injury.