By Dan Feldman, Pro Basketball Talk
Kevin Love’s decision to bolt Minnesota as soon as possible has been years in the making.
Ever since the Timberwolves refused to offer him a five-year contract extension, Love has been frustrated. He felt neither owner Glen Taylor nor then-general manager David Kahn treated him well enough.
There was once hope Flip Saunders could change Love’s perception of the Timberwolves, but if that ship hasn’t already sailed, Saunders seems to be doing his best to further alienate Minnesota’s star player. He visited Boston last week and is considered to be receptive to a trade to the Celtics, although Saunders said 16 NBA teams have made inquiries about Love.
Saunders appeared on KFAN 100.3 in Minneapolis and spoke about Love:
Host: “Doesn’t he have a right to be frustrated?”
Host: “You don’t think so?”
Saunders: “Just like I told Garnett, he didn’t have a right to be frustrated. Why does any player have a right to be frustrated? You’re either part of the problem or part of the solution.”
Saunders: “Should the team be frustrated? Yeah, the team can be frustrated. But I don’t think any one individual should be frustrated.”
Saunders: “I tell a story. I tell a story about – we were in the locker room when KG was in like his third year in the league, and Sam Mitchell was sitting in the locker room. KG was in there, and we had lost a couple games, and we were all sitting there talking. KG started going, ‘Hey, you’ve got to start doing more.’ And he’s talking to some of the bench guys. ‘You’ve got to start doing more.’ And Sam said, ‘Hey, hold it, hold it. Let me tell you something. You’re making all the money. Hey, it’s your responsibility. You make the money, you’ve got to live up to that.’ So, that was the mentality, and from that time, KG never ever from that point, he always took responsibility.”
Saunders is failing to separate two distinct issues.
An NBA team is comprised of 13-15 players who each have their own personal desires and agendas. Ideally, they come together in pursuit of a common goal, but that doesn’t completely merge their mindsets. They can each remain their own person.
That’s different from individual players denigrating their teammates in frustration. If Love is throwing his teammates under the bus, I haven’t heard it.
Love is the best player ever to spend his first his first six seasons with the same franchise without making the playoffs. He’s put in his time in Minnesota. He sounds willing to play out the rest of his contract – one more season before he can opt out – with the Timberwolves if they won’t trade him first.
Is Love entitled to be frustrated? Absolutely.
More frustrated than his teammates? Yes. Not a single one of them has spent the last six years in the NBA without reaching the postseason.
Love shouldn’t take his frustration out on them like Garnett did. It’s not their fault they’re not collectively up to snuff.
But he can take it out on the Timberwolves by leaving.