Kevin Love savages teammates, says behavior of two specific players ‘kind of pisses me off’
For what seems like the umpteenth time this season, the Minnesota Timberwolves blew yet another chance to climb above .500 for the first time since November. The T’Wolves now sit at 17-18 after blowing a lead at home against the Phoenix Suns, losing 104-103.
And the most recent occurrence of Minnesota’s futility to break above-even on the season, the team failed to do so in spectacular fashion, allowing the Suns to go on a 9-1 run in the final 2:38, turning the ball over four times in the final four minutes while going without a field goal in the final 4:31. A sorry display that means the Wolves are now 0-10 in games this season decided by four points or less. Definitely not the kind of statistic one would hope to find on a team that has aspirations of reaching the playoffs after a lengthy dry spell, especially in the ultra-competitive Western Conference.
Well, Kevin Love, for one, is mad as hell and he isn’t going to take it anymore. After blasting the ineffectiveness of the bench following last week’s loss to the Dallas Mavericks, Love let loose on a couple of his teammates following the game, savaging them for what he perceived to be a lackadaisical approach and attitude during the game.
“We can’t have two guys sitting at the end of the bench, who play good minutes, just sitting there and not getting up at timeouts,” Love said, as quoted in a 1500 ESPN report.. “We all need to be in this together. That kind of pisses me off. We’re supposed to be a team.”
As noted in the report, Love didn’t specifically single out any player or players, but simply looking at Minnesota’s bench indicates that Love was zeroing in on J.J. Barea and Dante Cunningham.
But even without identifying the players in question, Love was not finished expressing his frustration.
“It’s to a point that where those two guys, if and when I did that last year when maybe I didn’t sit out for the game for 48 minutes and so on and so forth, they would have killed me,” Love said. “They would have aired me out. It’s two guys we expect more from them, and I think they expect more from themselves.
“I’m not trying to single anybody out, and I don’t want to make it bigger than it is. That was a team we needed to beat tonight,” Love continued. “Even guys that didn’t play any minutes, we need to have a team on the bench that’s really in it together.”
Ricky Rubio didn’t know exactly who Love was talking about, but he seemed to echo Love’s sentiments, implying perhaps that the two players in question were pouting about minutes, with Barea expressing his frustration after being pulled from the game during the fourth quarter.
“Somebody is maybe frustrated because he didn’t have the minutes he wanted or he wasn’t in the game in the late situation,” Rubio said. “If something happened, no matter if it’s Coach’s decision or whatever, you have to be with the team. I didn’t see that, but if (Love) says that he saw something. We would have to talk, because that’s even worse than losing the game. Not having the team together, that’s terrible. We have to be a team.”
Things are quickly are going from bad to worse for the Timberwolves, especially as it concerns their star player. Love ripped the organization in a much-ballyhooed interview with Yahoo’s Adrian Wojnarowski last season, but a changing of the guard up-top with Flip Saunders replacing the doltish David Kahn was supposed to help matters.
It was Kahn who signed Love to a four-year deal, not the five-year extension Love was seeking, a source of the ire and hurt feelings Love felt towards the franchise. Love has an opt-out clause after three seasons, meaning he can be an unrestricted free agent as soon as 2015.
The Timberwolves are trying to surround Love with talent, signing bruising center Nikola Pekovic to an extension during the offseason as well as signing talented role players. Ricky Rubio is expected sign the five-year deal Love so coveted, so he should be around for awhile.
But if things don’t improve dramatically in the short-term, Love won’t be around to see things get better in the long haul.