Kent Youngblood here; Jerry has a well-deserved day off.
I was over at practice today and both coach Kurt Rambis and player Kevin Love dismissed any controversy surrounding -- or arising from -- Rambis' decision to leave Love on the bench for the final eight minutes of Wednesday's 117-116 loss to Sacramento in the season opener.
I write about it for tomorrow's paper. But here is the gist of what both were saying:
First, Love: He said he understood the decision, said he felt he had let opening-game jitters perhaps force him out of his game and said he was on the bench, cheering for his teammates, down the stretch. He said Anthony Tolliver deserved to keep playing, given the energy Tolliver was expending on defense. Love also said he wasn't frustrated right now. If it were game 65, and the team was fighting for a playoff spot? Then it might be different. He also said his not talking to the media after the game had more to do with his needing to meet up with a friend who was in town for the night for a late dinner than any perception that he was peeved. "I understood (Rambis' decision)," Love said. "I thought, after last year, I handled it like a man. And, in that situation, Anthony stepped up and played great down the stretch. I think, defensively, throughout the game, we had lapses. We went away from what we did in the preseason. In that situation Anthony was playing great. You have to give credit to him.
Now, Rambis: He said he talked with Love before Wednesday's practice. "Kevin completely understood the decision and he was 100 percent behind it," Rambis said. "Having said that, every single player wants to be on the floor all the time. i want players like that.."
Rambis wouldn't say specifically that it was Love's defense that put him on the bench. He reiterated his post-game mantra that it was not about Love, it was about what Tolliver was doing well. He repeated his belief that a team is better when the players all know there is someone on the bench the coach can turn to if things are going well. But he also said that, when a young team sees that rule being applied to everyone -- even a perceived leader of the team -- it can send a good message. "With young ball clubs, in particular, yes," Rambis said. "It helps everybody understand that the rules apply to everybody, that there are no exceptions."
In other news:
--Martell Webster said the surgery he had done on his back was at the L-5/S-1 point of his lower back, and that the surgery was effective in eliminating the sciatic pain he'd been feeling down his leg. He also hinted that the four-to six-week recovery time being bandied about for his return might be a little premature. He said he won't come back until he's 100 percent, a concept Rambis endorsed.
--the Wolves will exercise 20011-12 contract options by Monday to second- and third-year players Michael Beasley, Love, Jonny Flynn, Kosta Koufos and Wayne Ellington. But there is no contract extension forthcoming with fourth-year swingman Corey Brewer, who will become a restricted free agent next summer if the Wolves make him a qualifying offer after the season.
That's about it. Have a good night.