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Team, Love on edge after contract extension

The Sports Xchange
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So, now that the dust has settled, what are we to make of the four-year contract extension Kevin Love signed Wednesday? Love got four years at $60-plus million. He got an out option after three seasons. But he didn't get the max, five-year deal he was seeking. And, if you were around the team in the wake of the news Wednesday, the one overriding feeling you got was that nobody seemed overjoyed.

Love had just signed a deal that guaranteed him riches, but he didn't seem thrilled. The Wolves got to keep their designated player status and kept roster flexibility going forward. But did they alienate their best player to do so?

Those who know Love well insist the negotiations and the end result angered Love, whose ego took a blow not receiving the five-year max deal. There is the suggestion the team will have difficulty holding onto Love past the three seasons. Love, though, pledged to move forward and not look back. "I have to. I have to," he said. "You have to put it all behind you and just look forward from here on out because what's happened in the past is the past and I live in the present."

Is that so? Love's brother tweeted after the deal that it was nice of the Timberwolves to "rent" his younger sibling for three years ending in 2015. Already some fans are fretting that Love being gone after three seasons is a certainty.

Some see it quite differently. First of all, as president of basketball operations David Kahn said, three years is a long time. And here's one way to look at this:

The contract puts pressure on Love to continue to improve to earn his next big deal, wherever that will be. But it also gives the Wolves the flexibility to surround Love with enough talent that the big power forward will want to stay after those three years are up. Indeed, it puts pressure on the Wolves to do so in order to keep Love.

So there is a carrot dangling in front of everybody's nose on this one. The Wolves can either extend Love two more seasons on Jan. 25, 2015 -- six months before he has to make a decision on that option -- and essentially make this a six-year contract. Or Love can opt out after three seasons, become an unrestricted free agent and still sign a five-year maximum contract -- one year longer than any other team can offer -- thanks to his earned "Bird rights" that will pay him even more than if he had signed that five-year contract now.

But in the meantime, the Wolves have to continue to build a team that can contend enough that Love will be content to stay here.

Copyright (C) 2012 The Sports Xchange. All Rights Reserved.

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