Timberwolves owner Glen Taylor said one big reason he didn't sign Kevin Love to a five-year contract calling for $80 million and instead made a deal for four years and $61 million -- even though it allows Love the option to become a free agent after three years -- is that the leagues' new collective bargaining agreement will allow the Wolves to offer Love more money than any other NBA team on his next contract negotiation.

"So we feel we can still keep Kevin," Taylor said. "Like this contract, we can give him a better contract in the future than anyone else. And we don't have to wait until the end of the contract and we can give him an extension. We can add on two or three years later on before [the new contract] runs out.

"This worked out, I think, good for both Kevin and us. It gives him the maximum. He's going to play this year [under his rookie contract] and then for the next three years or four years he gets the maximum, which is good for him. And we can extend the contract out longer at that time.

"And you know, Kevin is an important part of it, but we have to be able to work in some other players in the future, too. This gives us some flexibility and still allows Kevin to get the money, the maximum money."

Taylor said Love's big contract won't prevent the Wolves from signing some free agents to large contracts.

"We would have room even after Kevin," Taylor said. "We have it figured out for three years ahead that we can keep all the good guys that we need. We have a plan here."

The salary cap is now $70 million before the teams have to pay the tax if they go over the limit. Salaries on the current Wolves roster are at around $60 million, leaving room to sign other players.

The Wolves have all their players locked up for through 2013 except for Michael Beasley and Anthony Randolph.

"The plan is to wait until the end of the year until they decide on the contracts with those two guys," Taylor said.

Wolves president of basketball operations David Kahn signed a three-year contract when he came to the team in 2009, so the word is negotiations for a new deal for him likely will start soon.

Miller was involved

Kevin McHale was in the Twin Cities on Monday coaching his Rockets over the Timberwolves. He talked about the deal he swung to bring Love to the Timberwolves on a 2008 draft-night trade for O.J. Mayo. Mike Miller also came to the Wolves as part of that deal.

The next year, Miller was a major piece in the deal the Wolves made with Washington for the No. 5 pick in the 2009 draft, which netted them Ricky Rubio.

McHale was impressed by the Wolves, even though his Houston team beat them 107-92.

"They're playing better all the time, and I think they're a team that's going to win a lot of games this year," McHale said. "... Kevin Love is a tremendous player. He played really well.

"He's really good and he's improving all the time. He's in great shape. He's rebounding. He had 39 points tonight. We overcame a 39-point game by Kevin Love, which is hard to do. I think he's exceeding what everybody thought he could do."

McHale is proving again this year that he can be a great coach, something the Wolves saw in the 2008-09 season when he replaced Randy Wittman in December and the team went 10-4 until the star of the team, Al Jefferson, blew out his knee and things got tough after that.

Welcomes Vikings

In a Q and A with the Minnesota Daily on Thursday, University of Minnesota President Eric Kaler said he would welcome the Vikings to TCF Bank Stadium if the Metrodome is not available because of construction of a new stadium on that site.

"Our position -- the University's position and my personal position -- is to be as helpful as we can," Kaler told the Daily. "We welcome the Vikings if that's needed in the transition time. And we will work with them to get the facilities and other infrastructure needs that they would need to have to play at TCF. The traffic impact on Sundays would be something we need to sort out. It's a lot of people in a close area so there [are] public safety issues."

Kaler said it would be difficult to turn the field between a Saturday and Sunday, so the schedules would have to be coordinated so there would be only one game each weekend.

Kaler continues saying: "Whether we could accommodate Thursday night or Monday night games would be something we would have to look into."

Things worked out well when the Vikings played at TCF Bank Stadium when the Metrodome wasn't available after the roof tore in December of 2010, so there is no reason it wouldn't work out again.


• According to ESPN.com's most recent daily RPI, former Gophers coach Dan Monson has his Long Beach State 49ers ranked 44th overall in RPI. The Gophers also rank high, at 41st overall. The 49ers remain perfect in Big West conference play at 7-0 overall. The Gophers' RPI is higher than fellow Big Ten competitors Purdue (64), Nebraska (98), Iowa (120) and Penn State (125).

• Tom Parish, the Gophers freshman quarterback from Hartland, Wis., who didn't play last year, is still in school, but plans to transfer after this semester. ... Da'Jon McKnight, the outstanding Gophers football receiver last season, was the leading receiver in Saturday's NFLPA's Collegiate Bowl in Carson, Calif., where he caught four passes for 49 yards.

• Meanwhile Jordan Hinojosa, a defensive lineman from Miami (Fla.) Central who committed to Minnesota and was expected in school this month, has to complete some paperwork before he is eligible to enroll. However, it isn't expected to be a problem, and he should be in school shortly.

• Ex-Gophers defenseman Paul Martin has five assists in his past six games and recorded his 200th point in the NHL last week; Martin has one goal and 15 assists in 42 games for Pittsburgh.

... Peter Mueller, a former Breck standout and one-time Gophers recruit, has three goals and one assist in his first 10 games of the year for the Colorado Avalanche since returning from post-concussion symptoms.

... In the USHL, Gophers recruit Taylor Cammarata has two goals and three assists in his past five games and is ninth in league scoring with 17 goals and 18 assists in 31 games for Waterloo.

Sid Hartman can be heard weekdays on WCCO AM-830 at 6:40, 7:40 and 8:40 a.m. and on Sundays at 9:30 a.m. • shartman@startribune.com