Report: Minnesota to offer Kevin Love max extension. Or Not.

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This is not rocket science, but the Timberwolves are finding a way to screw it up.

Minnesota has until Wednesday to reach a deal on a rookie contract extension with Kevin Love. Love is an All-Star, soon to be Olympian, double-double machine (39 and 12 Monday night) and the face of the franchise’s marketing efforts — he is exactly what a max contract guy should be (five years, near $80 million). Early reports said the Timberwolves were lowballing him with an offer just above what other teams could give (four years, $61 million).

Now comes a conflicted report from Jerry Zgoda of the Star Tribune.

One team source told me tonight that the Wolves are closing in on a five-year maximum contract deal that would pay him more than $78 million and despite such a forthcoming deal, David Kahn hasn’t won any brownie points with Love in this negotiation.

Another said that as of Monday afternoon, the team still hadn’t moved off its four-year, $61 million offer.

So far only Derrick Rose and Russell Westbrook have gotten max extensions from this draft class. Rose got a “Derrick Rose rule” super max at five years, $94 million, while Westbrook shunned that to get five years, $80 million, leaving the Thunder some cap room.

Love should be in that group, but the Wolves are dragging this out and maybe holding out for whatever reason.

If a deal is not reached by Wednesday, Love will be a restricted free agent next summer and Minnesota could — and would — match any offer he gets. So Love would have to take the $60 million or play next season for just $6.1 million by signing the qualifying offer — but then become an unrestricted free agent. He’d take less money that way, but if you don’t think players would take less money to leave if their ego were sufficiently offended you kid yourself.

Coach Rick Adelman is frustrated with this lack of a deal getting done. But if he thinks it’s a distraction now, wait to see what happens this summer and beyond if this doesn’t get done.

Friday afternoon fun: Watch James Harden’s 10 best plays from last season

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James Harden had a historic season in Houston.

Since it’s Friday afternoon and your sports viewing options consist of watching guys about to be cut from NFL rosters try to impress, why not check out Harden’s best plays from last season. It’s worth a couple minutes of your time.

Mavericks sign Jeff Withey to one-year contract

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Jeff Withey‘s ex-fiancée accused him of domestic violence, but he was not charged.

That frees him to continue his basketball career, which he’ll do in Dallas.

Shams Charania of Yahoo Sports:

The Mavericks could use another center, even if they re-sign Nerlens Noel. Salah Mejri is the only other true center, though Dirk Nowitzki will now play the position.

Withey is a good rim protector. Just don’t ask him to do anything away from the basket.

Dallas annually brings excess players to training camp and has them compete for regular-season roster spots. Whether or not his salary is guaranteed, Withey will likely fall into that competition.

Marc Gasol: If Grizzlies don’t share my goal of continued growth, we might have to revisit things

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The Grizzlies’ Grit & Grind era has ended.

Zach Randolph signed with the Kings, and Tony Allen appears likely to leave Memphis, too. The Grizzlies are prioritizing younger/cheaper players like Ben McLemore and Tyreke Evans.

Marc Gasol via Ala Carta, as translated by HoopsHype:

I’m very ambitious and I’ve wanted Memphis to be a great franchise. We’ve grown a lot the last 6-7 years, but we have to keep growing. If this is not lined up, maybe we may have to revisit things.

Gasol has been loyal to Memphis, and his first wish is probably winning there. But Giannis Antetokounmpo put it well: Teams must also do right by their players. Gasol is 32 and doesn’t have much time in his prime left. I see why rebuilding wouldn’t interest him.

But what will he do about it if the Grizzlies don’t prioritize the present? They made their push last summer with a max contract for Chandler Parsons, but because Parsons can’t stay healthy, that deal only inhibits team growth.

Gasol is locked up for two more years before a player option. He doesn’t have much leverage. This is part of the reason LeBron James keeps signing short-term contracts. Gasol doesn’t have the same ability to steer his team in his desired direction

On the potentially bright side, rebuilding teams often don’t have much use for 32-year-olds guaranteed more than $72 million over the following three years. If the fit devolves, Memphis becomes more likely to trade him.

Celtics to retire Paul Pierce’s number after Cavaliers game in February

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The Celtics already said they’d retire Paul Pierce’s No. 34.

Now, we know when.

Celtics release:

The Boston Celtics announced today that they will retire Paul Pierce’s No. 34 after a mid-season game against the Cleveland Cavaliers on Sunday, Feb. 11

After? That’s apparently in response to a new rule that penalizes teams not ready to play after a 15-minute halftime. These ceremonies can drag on, and nobody wants to cut Pierce short. I wonder whether this will start a trend of number retirements coming after games.