Ricky Rubio appears to doubt Kevin Love’s ability to be a team leader
The big NBA news over the weekend not related to the four teams still competing in the playoffs was the bombshell dropped involving Kevin Love’s future with the Minnesota Timberwolves by New York Daily News sportswriter Mitch Lawrence in a column published on Saturday.
In the story, Lawrence, about as plugged in of an NBA scribe that there is in the business, reports that Love’s people have informed the T’Wolves that he has no intention of re-signing with the team and instead will opt-out of his deal in about 14 months when the versatile power forward is able to do so.
Of course, this all stems from the missteps made by former Wolves boss David Kahn when he opted to sign Love to a four-year, $61 million deal with an opt-out clause after three seasons. The team could have signed Love, the team’s unquestioned best player, to the max five year contract in January 2012, an $80 million deal that would have better preserved his long-term future with the team.
The Wolves, of course, are trying to regain organizational control of the seemingly downward spiraling situation, as both owner Glenn Taylor and basketball boss Flip Saunders both made comments to Twin Cities media outlets in an attempt to spin the story back in the team’s favor.
On local radio, Saunders stated that he hasn’t engaged in a conversation with any of Love’s representatives since mid-April.
“We’re proceeding the same way, that Kevin is part of our team, that we have,” Saunders told WCCO-AM, via Star Tribune. “You’re always trying to get your team better. There have been reports we’re actively trying to trade him, which isn’t true. What we’re actively trying to do is get our team better. When you do that, you look to see what’s out there no matter what it is or for anybody. We’re a team that hasn’t made the playoffs in 10 years. We’ve got to get better.”
Taylor, meanwhile, told a reporter before the Minnesota Lynx game on Sunday that under no uncertain terms will Love be dealt in the near future.
“Not by the draft,” Taylor said.
Teammate Ricky Rubio, on the other hand, appears to be begrudgingly accepting that Love’s time in Minnesota could be nearing an end.
Rubio, from half a world away in Spain, seemingly made some rather pointed comments regarding the dearth of leadership abilities in Love’s game and said that he’s ready to assume a leader’s role on the team if that is what is demanded of him.
From a report on Spanish site BasketAmericano.com and translated by Bleacher Report.
“He’s a special player, the numbers he puts up are incredible, but we need a different leader,” said Rubio. “He’s our leader in points and other things, but vocally he’s not the type of player that wants to be, or that can be the leader. There are different types of leaders. It didn’t have to be him. It could have been Kevin Martin, who has a bit more experience, or I could take a step forward and be the definitive leader.”
Some pretty damning words from Rubio. Essentially, he is saying that while Love can put up absurd numbers, the power forward apparently — at least in Rubio’s eyes — is either unwilling or incapable of being a true team leader.
If that is indeed the case, should that play into the team’s determination of whether or not to deal Love in a bid to at least get something for him instead of allowing him to walk away next summer for nothing?
Rubio has experienced growing pains as he has attempted to make the transition to the NBA but the point guard undoubtedly a gifted player who has not yet realized his full potential.
In the meantime, the Love sweepstakes — whether or not the Wolves are intending to move him — are heating up. And given that there is not much the Timerwovles can do contract-wise with Love at this point in time, the team is staring down an offseason and regular season — should the team hold on to Love — with an overabundance of distractions and speculation.