You are forgiven if you want to believe Timberwolves President of Basketball Operations Flip Saunders when he says he expects Kevin Love to play for Minnesota next season. Love is easily the franchise’s second-best player ever, and he’s the main reason the team made a modest jump to 40 victories last season.
But you are also forgiven if you don’t believe Saunders. Because you are not a fool. And you have a long memory. This is what personnel bosses do — they deny, deny, deny until the day that they make a deal. This is not your imagination. This has happened over and over again.
When Saunders said Sunday, “Last I knew Kevin was under contract to us, and I expect him to be playing for us next year,” it sounded so much like other things you have already heard. And we have proof:
• “We have no intent of trading Percy Harvin. Percy Harvin is under contract and we expect him, just like all of our players under contract, to be here. He is a very good football player.” — Vikings GM Rick Spielman on Feb. 15, 2013. In many cases, this was very similar to Love’s situation — a player with a special talent and an injury history who apparently no longer wanted to be in Minnesota. Four weeks later, on March 11, Harvin was traded to Seattle.
• “You always say, ‘We’ll see what happens,’ but every year it’s the same thing. Some guy in a blog writes something and then everybody runs with it. You guys are in the reaction business, to people who are just making things up, and it’s just unbelievable.” — Kevin McHale, former Wolves boss, on June 20, 2007, swatting down Kevin Garnett trade talk. Yep, it was all in our imaginations, Kevin. There was no truth to the rumors. Except that on July 31 of that year, Garnett was traded to the Celtics.
• From the Feb. 7, 2005, Star Tribune: VP of football operations Rob Brzezinski said there have been no [trade] discussions, either with Red McCombs or other NFL teams.
“I don’t know why this thing keeps being brought up,” Brzezinski said. “It hasn’t even been discussed at all.” He was talking about a Randy Moss trade. And he was probably lying because two weeks later, Moss was traded to Oakland.
Why do they sell a different version of the story? To cover their bases and also to create trade leverage. It’s happened before, and it will happen again. In a couple of years, when another Minnesota star is tired of it here, we’ll have another denial and probably another trade. If Love is dealt, remember Saunders’ words.