Kevin Love vents frustrations about Timberwolves dealings

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Kevin Love is going to be a member of the Minnesota Timberwolves for the rest of this season. And next season. And the season after that. Then he can opt out of his deal if he wants (or he can stay another season), but we are a long way from even thinking about that). He signed a four-year deal last summer because you always sign the first big contract after your rookie deal — you get paid first.

The point is that Kevin Love may be frustrated, but it’s a little bit moot. He signed the deal, he is not going anywhere for a while.

Actually, it’s not “may” be frustrated — he is frustrated. That all stems back to the contract deal he was offered — teams can only offer one five-year contract extension at a time under the new Collective Bargaining Agreement and the Timberwolves are saving theirs for Ricky Rubio. Love — the All-Star and gold medal winner — got four and has felt slighted by that and much more, he told Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo Sports.com and the NBC Sports Network.

“I don’t know who labels people stars, but even [T’wolves owner] Glen Taylor said: I don’t think Kevin Love is a star, because he hasn’t led us to the playoffs,” Love told Yahoo! Sports. “I mean, it’s not like I had much support out there. That’s a tough pill to swallow.”

Love said he doesn’t forget slights light that. And after a couple more seasons when he can opt out he says he will remember then, too.

Minnesota can offer more money then than any other team, but Love has made it clear on more than one occasion — and did again — that winning is what maters to him.

“I haven’t been in the playoffs yet,” Love says. “I’m looking at my contract in the eye of two years from now, and if I haven’t been to the playoffs – or it’s been one playoff berth – well, it’s going to be tough to say, ‘Oh well, I’m going to stay here and continue to rebuild.’ “

You really need to read Wojnarowski’s entire story to get how frustrated Love is with some things in Minnesota.

Love has not felt the Love from Minnesota — but that doesn’t mean they are going to lose him. He wants to win. He wants a team of good players that push themselves. They have a coach that can do it in Rick Adelman (who Love respects) and good players like Ricky Rubio and Andrei Kirilenko. If things start to gel and Love feels this is a place he can contend, that a roster is being built and maintained like in Oklahoma City and Memphis, he will stay. It’s a bottom line thing.

I think the Timberwolves — 9-9 and currently the eight seed in the West — will make the playoffs. They have defended well this year but it’s been a struggle on offense. Rubio — especially with Love — will change that.

And if the Timberwolves start making the playoffs and improving, Minnesota has nothing to worry about. But we are a few years away from discussing how Love feels when it really matters.

James Harden reveals he’s playing through ankle injury

AP Photo/Sue Ogrocki
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James Harden didn’t lead the Rockets in scoring in their Game 4 win over the Thunder yesterday.

He didn’t even rank second – or third.

Nene, Eric Gordon and Lou Williams each outscored Harden, who scored 16 points on 5-for-16 shooting, including 0-for-7 on 3-pointers.

What happened to the Houston star?

Calvin Watkins of ESPN:

Houston Rockets star guard James Harden said he has been hobbled by an ankle injury that occurred in Game 3 of this first-round series against the Oklahoma City Thunder.

Harden made the revelation to ESPN’s Lisa Salters after the Rockets’ 113-109 Game 4 victory on Sunday afternoon.

“It was pretty tough; we don’t make excuses,” Harden said in a news conference when asked about his health. “We just try to go out there and get the job done. You build trust, and trust in your teammates all year long. When there’s moments like this, guys step up and they did tonight. We have another opportunity in a few days to go out there and win on our home court, and we’re going to have to get off to a really good start.”

Many players are grinding through injuries this time of year. Is Harden’s exceptionally bad? There’s no way of telling from the outside.

But he didn’t look quite right in Game 4, and if he’s hobbled, that opens the door slightly wider for Oklahoma City to come back from its 3-1 deficit.

Video Breakdown: Rockets launch Eric Gordon from 3-point range against Thunder in Game 4

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The Houston Rockets beat the Oklahoma City Thunder on Sunday, 113-109, and now the series heads back to Texas with the Rockets in the lead, 3-1.

Houston and OKC played a weird game, with Nene scoring 28 points off the bench for the Rockets and serious mischief in the final moments. The end of the game included a purposely missed free throw by Steven Adams that allowed Russell Westbrook to grab a quick 3-pointer and a missed call when James Harden shoved Alex Abrines out of the way like an NFL tackle.

While the Rockets didn’t shoot a stellar percentage from 3-point range — just 31.5 percent — they still knocked down 11 buckets from deep. Part of that action was a play run for Sixth Man of the Year candidate Eric Gordon that included a little semi-Pistol action, and a stagger screen that allowed Gordon to work his way free.

I picked this play to go over this week because it exemplifies just how committed to the 3-point shot the Rockets are. Plus, Gordon ran around three screens just to get this one bucket, which is always fun to see.

Watch the full video breakdown above.

Jimmy Butler on Marcus Smart dustup: ‘He’s not about that life. So, he’s calming down’

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Marcus Smart and Jimmy Butler had to be separated during the Celtics’ Game 4 win over the Bulls after Smart pushed Butler, who was hounding him defensively in the backcourt.

Butler:

As far as the Marcus Smart situation goes, he’s a great actor. Acting tough, that’s what he does. But I don’t think he’s about that, and I’m the wrong guy to get in my face. So, he needs to take it somewhere else because I’m not the one for that.

Was that their first run-in? Butler:

That’s the first time. Last time, too. We’re not going to sit here and get in each other’s faces like that. Like I said, he’s not about that life. So, he’s calming down.

The Bulls, who’ve lost two straight to allow Boston to tie the series 2-2, is angling for any edge. Butler tried to intimidate Smart on the court, and the Chicago wing might actually rattle the too easily shakable Smart with his postgame comments.

The irony: Some might say Butler, who did come up hard, lost touch with his roots as he entered stardom. I don’t buy that, at least not majorly.

But even if both – or neither – are posturing to any degree, this will be a matchup to watch in Game 5.

Remembering former NBA official Jess Kersey, who passed away Saturday

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Jess Kersey, who officiated more than 2,200 NBA games, including being part of 19 NBA Finals, passed away over the weekend, losing his battle with cancer at age 76.

Kersey was a well-respected official who feared nothing. Maybe the most remembered image of Kersey is him trying to break up a fight between Mitch Kupchak and Hakeem Olajuwon, essentially trying to tackle Olajuwon with his head in Olajuwon’s chest and his arms wrapped around him. Kersey got in the middle of everything if that was what was required.

Our thoughts go out to the Kersey family for their loss.