Scoggins: Love should put an end to the tap-dance

  • Article by: CHIP SCOGGINS , Star Tribune
  • Updated: June 3, 2014 - 11:48 AM

Kevin Love had no ulterior motive for vacationing in Boston this weekend (wink).

He just wanted to check out the sights, grab some fresh seafood and catch a ballgame. Maybe take one of those duck tours around historic Back Bay (wink, wink).

Love’s visit had absolutely nothing to do with the fact that Boston is home to an iconic NBA franchise that owns a bushel a future first-round draft picks, which could come in handy should it attempt to trade for a certain power forward.

As for those professional athletes, fans and restaurant owners who offered Love a warm embrace in person and on Twitter, ah, what do they know?

Kevin Love just wanted to see Boston, people.

Next up on his vacation plans: Houston, followed by Cleveland, Sacramento, the Bay Area and possibly Chicago.

Anyone else already tired of this so-called Summer of Love?

The relationship between Love and the Timberwolves seems destined for a messy divorce. Regardless of what Flip Saunders says publicly, the Wolves basketball boss must know he’s being backed into a corner and has to trade the second-best player in team history.

The longer this plays out, the more absurd it becomes, making it increasingly difficult to envision a scenario in which Love stays here long term.

Still unknown at this point is whether Love or his representatives have informed the Wolves officially and unequivocally that he intends to opt out of his contract next summer, but there’s enough circumstantial evidence to realize how this movie will end.

We know Love is frustrated by the constant losing and still bitter about his contract snub. Several national reports surfaced recently (more coincidence, right?) stating his desire to find a new home. And then he shows up in Boston this weekend to check things out.

Love has remained silent publicly on his intentions, but he needs to be honest with the Wolves and not tap-dance around the subject in some wishy-washy manner. If he plans to leave, let Saunders know so that he can create a competitive trade market and then everyone can move on with their lives.

Maybe that’s already happened privately. If so, it serves Saunders no purpose to reveal that news because that would only hurt his leverage in trade talks. Saunders continues to say he intends to keep Love, but he has to handle this situation a certain way, too.

Love’s silence speaks volumes, though. He’s done nothing to knock down reports and rumors about his desire to leave. Instead, he’s allowed the fire to rage, quietly watching from afar, surfacing long enough for everyone to see him having a ball in Boston.

He seemingly wants it both ways. He reportedly wants out of here, but he doesn’t want to request a trade and use the kind of strong-armed tactics that earned Dwight Howard scorn in Orlando. As if this passive-aggressive approach is going to make fans feel better, or less angry.

People who know Love well say he’s very image-conscious, to the degree that he takes note of everything that’s said and written about him. He’s not earning himself much good will locally right now.

Love seemed genuinely touched to be named an All-Star starter in fan voting this season, but his relationship with the organization and its fanbase remains complicated at best. Love completely misread fan reaction when he reiterated his unhappiness about not getting a max contract during an interview with Yahoo! Sports in December 2012.

Rather than pile on David Kahn’s stupidity, a healthy segment of Wolves fans blamed Love for acting petulant. That criticism stung Love, who sounded contrite two months after that Yahoo! piece.

“I don’t know where the misconception came along, but I love this team,” he said at the time. “I love this organization, and somewhere along the line it went the other way. I think that wholeheartedly they need to realize that I do want to be here.”

Anyone believe he still feels that way? I don’t fault Love for wanting to play elsewhere. Six seasons in a Wolves uniform can drive anyone batty.

But if he wants out, let it be known, at least to Saunders, who has worked tirelessly to make his superstar feel loved after all the damage inflicted by Kahn.

Hopefully, a resolution comes soon. Can you imagine if this drags into the season?

But if Love is spotted in Cleveland, just remember that he has a family connection to the Beach Boys so he’s probably just visiting the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame (wink).

 

Chip Scoggins • chip.scoggins@startribune.com

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