Timberwolves forward Kevin Love on Wednesday made his first real public comments since the season ended, and he didn’t tell ESPN’s “SportsNation” program exactly that he has told his team to trade him.
But he sure did sound like a fellow breaking up with his gal.
Asked directly if he wants out of Minnesota, he said, “Uh, my agent is handling everything at this point,” adding when pressed: “I got some advice that six years in the league, I’m 25 years old, I’m hopefully heading into my prime, I’m working as hard as I possibly can and I’m hoping everything works out for all parties involved.”
In a separate Fox Sports interview while doing publicity in Los Angeles for a video game, he was asked about the Wolves’ playoffs chances and answered by referring to his team as “they,” saying: “If they’re healthy, they can do a lot of damage. … I think they’re very close.”
More than a week after he toured Boston to “check out” the city for three days, he reiterated in both interviews that winning is his top priority. “No matter what the outcome is, I just want to end up in a great place where I can win,” Love told ESPN. “In six years, I haven’t made the playoffs yet. That burns me and hurts my heart, so I really want to not be watching guys all the time. I want to be playing [in the playoffs].”
Love can opt out of the final year of a four-year contract he signed in January 2012 and become an unrestricted free agent in July 2015 without the Wolves receiving any compensation.
Boston, Chicago, Golden State, Cleveland, Houston, Phoenix and Sacramento are believed to be among the teams seeking to trade for him before the June 26 draft, a window here that likely would give the Wolves the best leverage to make a deal.
When asked about playing for New York and new basketball boss Phil Jackson, Love said: “It’s very intriguing, so I think the Knicks are a place where anybody would like to go. … Anytime Phil Jackson is involved, you have to give it a second look.”
The Knicks, however, have little to offer in a trade. The Wolves can offer Love an extra fifth season guaranteed and $26.5 million more in salary and bigger raises than any other team.
Love was asked about comments Wolves President of Basketball Operations and newly named coach Flip Saunders made last week. When asked on KFAN if Love has the right to be frustrated after six seasons without reaching the playoffs in Minnesota, Saunders said no player has the right to be frustrated and said if a player isn’t part of the solution, he’s part of the problem.
Love answered by referring to a recent interview conducted in Spanish with Ricky Rubio in which the Wolves point guard seemed to question the type of leader Love is.
“When [Saunders] says something like that — same thing as Ricky talking about me being a leader — I just continue to work hard, keep on the grind and use some of it as fuel,” Love said. “But also what they said, it holds true some of it.”