The Minnesota Timberwolves‘ GM, David Kahn made a mistake by not signing Kevin Love to a max deal. End of story. Well, not really end of story. I’ll tell you why: Kevin Love is a franchise and top-10 player by most metrics. He’s a big who hits three-pointers at a 40% clip. He is heralded for starting fast breaks with his pin-point outlet passing and from everything that is written about him, he is a stand-up guy in the locker room and with the media. At 6’10” he is more of a Power Forward but can play Center when the Wolves go small. It’s certainly not impossible for him to thrive there based on the mismatches he can create.
For the 2011-12 season, Love is first in double-doubles with 19 in 21 games. He is 5th overall in John Hollinger’s PER rating, behind only Lebron James, Kobe Bryant, Kevin Durant and (ahem!) Paul Millsap. In fantasy he should be considered a top-5 pick in virtually all formats until he starts to decline or is injured. The thing is: he won’t start to decline for at least 8-10 years as he is only 23 years old.
The Timberwolves had a chance to lock him down for five years with their latest contract extension offer. Instead they decided to sign him to a four year deal (for approximately $62 million) with a player option to leave after three years. Love made it known that he would prefer a max deal for a player with his service time. A max deal would be five years guaranteed for about $82 million.
The fabled class of 2003, which featured Lebron James, Carmelo Anthony, Dwayne Wade, Chris Bosh and Dark… nevermind… were the first of their kind in many ways. After their rookie contracts were up, they chose shorter contracts because they knew they would be that much closer to signing even more lucrative contracts (or in some cases, closer to forming mega-teams with their allies). The only player from that group that chose to stay with their team was Dwayne Wade, and we know that was only after coordinating the arrival of James and Bosh.
These shorter second contracts for franchise-level players usually end up working out poorly for the teams that drafted them . They usually end up leaving a lot earlier than they would have otherwise and for the Timberwolves to lose Love in three years would most likely be crippling. Minnesota isn’t exactly known for being a place that people want to play. So why give the option to leave early?
We can probably chalk this up to another in a long line of puzzling decisions made by David Kahn. In Kahn’s defense Love’s overall FG% and true shooting %s are a little lower than many of the premier power forwards in the league. However, is is most likely because Love takes shots from all over the court, which gives him a unique advantage over many bigs. Exhibit A is here.
The only way Kahn comes out of this extension smelling rosy would be if Love gets seriously injured, but Love has no injury history that would say it is a risk. Right now, it looks like the Timberwolves didn’t lock up their best player for as long as possible and even if they do resign him they will probably end up paying him more over the life of both contracts than they would have if they locked him up for five years this time around.
Shame on you David Kahn. As Sir Charles would say, “That’s just tuurrible!” Do you think the Wolves made the right call with this deal?