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.

PBT Extra: Disciplined Celtics highlight bad habits of Milwaukee Bucks

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Giannis Antetokounmpo has been every bit the top five NBA player in the postseason — 32.5 points per game on 63.2 percent shooting, plus with 11 rebounds and 7.5 assists per game.

Yet the Bucks are down 0-2 to Boston.

The Celtics have had a strong series from Al Horford and Terry Rozier, but the real difference is in the discipline this team has shown all season — Boston knows who it is. Clearly, Milwaukee does not. They turn the ball over too much and make too many mistakes.

I get into all of that in this PBT Extra, and I wonder if that’s something the Bucks can really turn around mid-playoffs.

Ettore Messina to coach Spurs in Game 3 following death of Gregg Popovich’s wife

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Spurs coach Gregg Popovich’s wife, Erin, died yesterday.

That sad news was felt throughout the NBA, and it obviously affects San Antonio most closely. That includes for tonight’s Game 3 against the Warriors.

Jeff McDonald of the San Antonio Express-News:

Ettore Messina was a longtime head coach in Europe. The Spurs lead assistant also took over for a few regular-season games Popovich missed. So, making – rather than advising – coaching decisions won’t be a brand new challenge to Messina.

But down 2-0 to defending-champion Golden State is a tough place to make an NBA playoff debut.

On the bright side, there will be no pressure. Not only has San Antonio been outclassed the first two games of the series, focus is rightly on the Popovich family. A win would be a pleasant surprise and help Messina – who’s up for the Hornets job – in his pursuit of a head-coaching position. A loss would be quickly forgotten with more important matters at hand.

To that end, hopefully the time away allows Popovich the space he needs to grieve. That matters far more than a basketball game.

Report: Knicks to interview Kenny Smith for head-coaching job

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The Knicks are casting a wide net in their coaching search.

It’ll apparently include a familiar, though surprising, name.

ESPN:

TNT analyst Kenny Smith will interview for the New York Knicks’ head-coaching job on Friday, a source told ESPN’s Stephen A. Smith.

A quality organization, the Rockets, interviewed Smith (in 2016, before hiring Mike D’Antoni). So, this isn’t proof of the Knicks’ oddball thinking. (There are plenty of better examples, if you wish).

Steve Kerr opened the door for former players to go straight from TV to being an NBA head coach without having any coaching experience. He’s been a smash hit with the Warriors.

But Kerr was also the Suns’ general manager before Golden State hired him. Smith has no front-office experience.

So, it’s tough to judge Smith, whose role on television is more to entertain than inform (though he does both). He’ll have to really wow in his interview to get the job.

But at least he has that opportunity.

Pacers coach Nate McMillan slips and falls while arguing call (video)

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Nate McMillan slipped up in his handling of Victor Oladipo‘s early fouls during the Pacers’ Game 2 loss to the Cavaliers last night.

Then, the Indiana coach literally slipped while arguing that LeBron James should have been called for offensively fouling Lance Stephenson.