Postgame: Clock ticks on Love's contract extension
- Blog Post by: Jerry Zgoda
- January 24, 2012 - 12:46 PM
We're now not much more than a day away and counting on the NBA deadline for the Wolves to sign Kevin Love and the Wolves have yet to reach a deal on a contract extension with him.
One team source told me tonight that the Wolves are closing in on a five-year maximum contract deal that would pay him more than $78 million and despite such a forthcoming deal, David Kahn hasn't won any brownie points with Love in this negotiation.
Another said that as of Monday afternoon, the team still hadn't moved off its four-year, $61 million offer.
I still believe the Wolves will reach a deal with Love by 11 p.m. Wednesday and it will be that five-year "designated player" deal with Love.
An agreement could come as soon as Tuesday morning or considering the unnecessary wait so far, it could stretch toward that deadline, just like the Al Jefferson contract four years wasn't finalized until just minutes before the deadline.
Yes, the Wolves very well can argue that $61 million is still better than Love can do elsewhere as a restricted free agent next summer and try to call his bluff on it.
But anyone who watched Love's deliver a 39-point, 12-rebound night despite playing ill in Monday's 107-92 loss to the Kevin McHale-coached Rockets knows where the franchise would be without him:
Pretty much right back to 2007, when McHale traded Kevin Garnett away in a package that brought Jefferson from Boston to Minnesota.
The question is, do they want to haggle with him enough to risk alienating him into not only waiting until he becomes a restricted free agent next summer (when the Wolves simply will match any four-year offer that Love gets) but also tempt him into thinking about playing out a qualifying-offer year next season and become an unrestricted free agent in 2013.
Now, he'd be crazy to accept a $6 million deal (or try to negotiate a better one-year contract) and risk injury or worse rather than take $61 million upfront, right?
Yes, he would be, but ego and pride and a sincere fascination to play for a team like, say, the Lakers can make a fellow do funny things.
Here's one important development to watch as the hours tick away toward Wednesday night:
New Orleans shooting guard Eric Gordon told Yahoo! Sports Monday night that he's waiting to see if NBA commissioner David Stern -- not Hornets GM Dell Demps -- will extend him a contract offer by Wednesday night.
Now remember that Wolves owner Glen Taylor is the chairman of the NBA Board of Governors who has Stern on speed dial and it's very possible he's waiting to for Stern to move with Gordon before he finalizes any deal with Love.
I got the distinct impression from Taylor last week that he doesn't believe the league, which owns the Hornets, is willing max out Gordon.
If Gordon does get a five-year max deal like Oklahoma City's Russell Westbrook did last week, all that's left for Love to do is sign that five-year contract.
Now, I have no doubt that Love and agent Jeff Schwartz believe his deal should be linked with Westbrook's rather than with Gordon, and Westbrook signed a deal worth between $79 million and $80 million.
Taylor wasn't at Monday's game, although I'm not sure if that meant he was simply away on business, he was busy elsewhere pursuing a deal with Love (very doubtful because Kahn was at the game) or whether he just didn't want to be there for whatever reason when McHale returned to Target Center.
I do know he was home in Mankato on Sunday night because I reached him then and in a fairly brief conversation he said no deal was yet in sight.
One thing I do know for sure: This whole thing will be over soon, or at least until July if the Wolves don't sign Love now.
And if you think this issue has been a distraction the last couple weeks, just wait if it gets kicked down the road until next summer.
If it goes that far, it probably will go one step farther to 2013 or perhaps a sign-and-trade to another team because why would he wait all that time only to accept a lesser offer (another team could only offer him 4.5 percent raises while the Wolves can offer 7.5 percent) next summer.
Here's the game story from Monday, a night when McHale simply smiled after the Target Center audience clearly booed him during pre-game introductions. His team went out and won their seventh straight game with a 19-1 run that ended the third quarter and opened the fourth after the Wolves had taken a five-point lead.
The Rockets did so by playing four guards at times -- afterward, Ricky Rubio remarked about Kevin Martin playing power forward in one configuration.
And here's the notebook with more on the Love and McHale reunion, among other items.
Kent Youngblood has practice on Tuesday because I'm schedule to fly to Dallas for Wednesday night's game.
There's a chance Kent will be covering a news conference, but if I were a betting man, I'd say it's more likely the Wolves will announce Love's extension at Target Center on Thursday after reaching agreement with him while the team is in Dallas Tuesday night and Wednesday.
I know Rick Adelman will be one unsatisfied fellow if this matter stretches on all season into summer.
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