Wednesday night the dust had settled on another Minnesota loss in a close game. The Timberwolves were an astounding and stat-defying 0-10 in games decided by four points or less after Gerald Green drained the game-winning jumper for the Suns to complete an improbable comeback. Throw in last week's frustrating and wrongful defeat to the Mavericks and frustration is brimming for a Timberwolves team with Playoff ambitions.
Following Wednesday's latest setback, Kevin Love let some of his frustration out to the media in another example of what is increasingly looking like a relationship winding down rather than a partnership revving up.
The Timberwolves are vastly underperforming and sitting outside the Playoff race in the crowded Western Conference. That is not where they need to be as Love gets set to make his big decision.
Like other superstar players before him, Love will become a free agent next summer. He is expected, like Carmelo Anthony, Dwight Howard and Deron Williams to use all his leverage to get exactly what he wants. Whether that is in Minneapolis or not. The Timberwolves apparently should be very afraid as one Eastern Conference executive told Ken Berger of CBSSports.com:
They should trade him. No one thinks he's staying. Everyone knows he wants to go to the Lakers.
That is going to be true almost certainly if Minnesota does not get to the Playoffs for the first time in Love's six-year career. Love's history with the Wolves of late has not been great.
Forget the years of losing and general ineptitude the franchise featured under David Kahn for a moment or the fact that Ricky Rubio took several years to go from NBA Draft to NBA player, holding back the organization. Love certainly could still be affronted that Kahn did not offer him the max deal on his extension, bringing this thing to a head a year sooner than Flip Saunders would like.
Love wants to win and he is increasingly seeing that it is not going to get done with the Wolves right now. Not if things do not change drastically.
During the 2010 World Championships, Love made it no secret that he felt left out in some way because he was the only player on the roster yet to make a postseason. Except for rookie Anthony Davis, it was the same way in Beijing for the 2012 Olympics. Love is part of that club and wants to be considered among those elite level players.
He certainly has the stats for it.
So if the L.A.-native cannot do it in Minneapolis, do not be surprised if that Eastern Conference exec is right and Love ends up heading home to Los Angeles. The ball is squarely in Minnesota's court for the next year and a half to persuade him to stay. Winning and alleviating these current frustrations might be the only way to do that.