Kevin Love, Ivan Johnson

Report: Minnesota will offer Love four years, $60 million


Minnesota may be about to screw up a good thing.

They are an entertaining and up-and-coming team, one with a future behind Kevin Love, Ricky Rubio, Derrick Williams and more. But that comes with a price. The first of those is Love, who is eligible for a contract extension between now and Jan. 25. He can get up to five years, about $80 million (which is the max for him, the exact numbers are not known yet and depend on league revenue) but there comes this report out of the Pioneer Press.

Look for the Timberwolves to offer Kevin Love a $60 million, four-year contract extension within the next eight days.

In money per year, this offer is pretty close to the max (just more than a million short). However, it is one year less, $20 million guaranteed less than the max offer and it likely will not be well received in the Love camp. This is about what other teams could offer Love as a free agent, minus the bonus the Wolves can throw on top as the team with his rights.

If Love doesn’t take the offer he becomes a restricted free agent next summer, which means other teams can make an offer but the Timberwolves have the right to match it. And they would, something that likely limits the offers Love would get.

But here’s the risk: Love could just accept the one year qualifying offer the Wolves have to put on the table — $6.1 million for next season — then after that he could leave as an unrestricted free agent.

Nobody is talking. Not the Timberwolves, not Love who brushed this off as something his agent is dealing with in a recent radio interview.

So far, the only guy out of the 2008 draft to get an extension was Derrick Rose, who got a $94 million, five-year offer under the new “Derrick Rose rule” (he won the MVP so he qualifies to make more than Love). While Love fell to pick No. 5 he has proven to be the second best player out of this class.

And he is the anchor of a revival we are starting to see in Minnesota. One way to screw that up is to go cheap and drive players away. Love deserves a max or near max offer — he is a double-double machine, a big who can rebound and shoot from the outside, a good fit and the face of the team’s marketing efforts. He’s the one guy worth the money you pay him in terms of production and putting butts in the seats.

Pay the man, or you risk ruining what has finally been built there.

James Harden: “I am the best player in the league. I believe that.”

James Harden, Stephen Curry
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James Harden was the MVP last season — if you ask his fellow NBA players.

The traditional award (based on a media vote) went to Stephen Curry (in the closest vote in four years), and that was the right call (in my mind). But from the time it happened Harden did not buy it. And he still doesn’t buy it. In the least — and he’s using that as fuel for this season. That’s what he told Fran Blinebury over at

“I am the best player in the league. I believe that,” he said. “I thought I was last year, too.”

Well, it’s a more realistic claim than Paul George’s.

“But that award means most valuable to your team. We finished second in the West, which nobody thought we were going to do at the beginning of the year even when everybody was healthy. We were near the top in having the most injuries. We won our division in a division where every single team made the playoffs.

“There’s so many factors. I led the league in total points scored, minutes played. Like I said, I’m not taking anything away from Steph, but I felt I deserved the Most Valuable Player. That stays with me.”

That’s very Kobe Bryant of you to turn that into fuel. Defining the MVP Award is an annual discussion that nobody agrees on.

I could get into how Harden was the old-school, traditional stats MVP, how that ignores how Steve Kerr used Curry, and how that opened up the Warriors’ offense to championship levels. Curry put up numbers, but he was also the distraction, the bright star that Kerr used to open up looks for Klay Thompson, Draymond Green, and others. Curry’s strength was not just what he did with the ball in his hands, but his gravity to draw defenders even when he didn’t. Did the Warriors stay healthier than the Rockets? No doubt. Should Curry be penalized for that?

It’s simple for Harden — if he can put up those numbers again, if he can be the fulcrum of a top offense, he will be in the discussion for MVP again. And, if he can lead the Rockets beyond the conference finals, nobody will talk about that MVP snub anyway.