With a 29-47 record heading into Tuesday night’s game against the Golden State Warriors, it has surely been a lost season for the Minnesota Timberwolves. Injuries have been the primary factor, and forward Kevin Love’s bizarre preseason hand injury set the tone early.
There had been hope Love would return from the second surgery on his right hand before the season ended, but that looked more and more unlikely as time went on. Now with Monday night’s news that Love will undergo surgery on his left knee to remove a buildup of scar tissue, he is officially not going to return this season.
The knee has reportedly been a lingering issue dating back to Love’s return to action after his first hand surgery, but was not thought to be enough of an issue to be further examined. But if Love was really intent on playing again this season, it seems reasonable for him to want the knee issue looked at more closely and thus taken care of sooner if need be.
Love has been critical of the Timberwolves’ organization in the past, which is warranted to some extent but also stems from the fact he did not get five-year “max” contract from the team last year. Instead he got a four-year deal that started this season, and he can opt out after the 2014-2015 season. That would seem to be a good thing for a player like Love, since he takes every opportunity he gets to criticize the organization publicly, but instead he has taken it as a slap in the face.
While Love’s presence alone is unlikely to have pushed the Timberwolves into playoff contention this year with all the other players that missed time due to injury, this out-of-the blue news about his knee speaks to a bigger issue in my opinion. Criticizing the organization in search of excuses is one thing, but at some point a player with Love’s stature has to emerge as a leader for the team to become a playoff contender. To this point, there is no indication that will ever occur while he is in Minnesota.
Love may simply be trying to force a trade this offseason, and if the Timberwolves wind up retaining center Nikola Pekovic the volume on his complaints will surely be turned up. Pekovic is likely to be costly to bring back as a restricted free agent, and Minnesota may simply choose not to match any offer sheet he gets from another team. Regardless of Pekovic’s status as the summer goes on, if Love wants to be elsewhere before next season the Timberwolves need to consider granting his wish.
Brad Berreman is a contributing writer at Rant Sports.com. Follow him on Twitter @bradberreman24.