Kevin Love says chance to win, not previous contract, was reason for forcing trade from Timberwolves

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Kevin Love might still be a member of the Timberwolves this season, had the man previously making the basketball decisions in Minnesota given him a max contract back in 2012.

The much-maligned David Kahn and owner Glen Taylor decided to save that money for Ricky Rubio, while giving Love a four-year deal with an opt-out after three — one he would have used after this season to become an unrestricted free agent, and leave Minnesota without the team being able to get anything in return.

So, the Timberwolves sent Love to the Cavaliers, and netted a couple of nice pieces in Andrew Wiggins and Anthony Bennett, who may be instrumental in helping the team rebuild for the future. And, they got a legitimate veteran in Thaddeus Young, who (if he stays in Minnesota) can help guide the young talent along the way.

But replacing a legitimate All-Star is never easy, and Flip Saunders believes it may have been avoidable had Love been given the max contract he deserved.

From Jerry Zgoda of the Star Tribune:

On Monday, Saunders said Love’s departure was “pretty much set in stone the minute he got his four-year contract” and stated Timberwolves fans won’t ever forgive Love for forcing his way out. …

The difference in money was substantial — $80-plus million compared with the $62 million contract Love signed — but perhaps more important was the statement such a max contract would have made about Love’s earned place as the franchise’s foundation.

Love was asked Sunday if that contract decision ultimately was something he just never could get over and accept.

“I don’t know, I think more than anything I just wanted to win,” he said “Now that we’re doing it here, I’m very happy. I think that was very shortsighted when it first happened, but in the end it was more the constant losing.”

Two years isn’t all that long to hold a grudge, especially when considering the loss of millions of dollars that was the result of the franchise’s decision.

But most superstar players would choose to play for a contender if the money remained the same, and with Love in line to get max money in the years that follow, we’ll take him at his word when he says getting to play alongside LeBron James was the primary reason, at least currently, that he chose to force his way out.