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Nothin' but Net: No one wins thanks to Taylor

Aug. 27, 2014 at 1:09 PM   |   Comments

Does Minnesota Timberwolves owner Glen Taylor sound like an immensely bitter, jilted ex-spouse who took the low road, or a truth-teller, unafraid to shed light on a situation no one wants to believe?

Like most things, the truth lies somewhere in the middle.

Taylor spoke about Love after the 25-year-old was sent in the third-biggest blockbuster of the summer, following LeBron James' return to Cleveland and "Guardians of the Galaxy."

Taylor told ESPN 1500: "I question Kevin if this is going to be the best deal for him because I think he's going to be the third player on a team. I don't think he's going to get a lot of credit if they do really well. I think he'll get the blame if they don't do well."

Let's handle each of Taylor's most-inflammatory comments at a time, starting with this one.

If the Cleveland Cavaliers don't "do really well," the blame won't fall on Love, it'll fall on James. He essentially declared he was returning to his home city to win Cleveland a championship. James put the burden of an entire city on his broad shoulders. Love is another piece of that puzzle, a huge piece, but to say that the blame of any potential failure falls on Love is ridiculous. Love didn't declare himself a potential savior like James did.

As for him being the third-best player, I'd disagree with that assertion, but deciding between Love and Kyrie Irving is subjective, so we'll let Taylor slide on that.

On second thought, I can't.

I'd rank Love over Irving simply because he's at a minimum a top-three power forward and I can't rate Irving that high among point guards. Chris Paul, Derrick Rose, Steph Curry and Russell Westbrook all come in higher than Irving in my estimation. Plus, I just think Love is better than Irving.

Back to Taylor for a moment...

"I think he's around a couple guys are awful good," he said of Love. "Now I'm not saying that Kevin's not good, but I think where maybe he got away with some stuff, not playing defense on our team, I'm not sure how that's going to work in Cleveland. So I would guess they're going to ask him to play more defense. And he's foul-prone."

My favorite part is the "got away with stuff" line. It's just so cynical and negative.

Love is not a good defender. He's just not. He's an excellent rebounder and some times that gets confused for being a good defensively, but Love is not. He's not a rim protector either, averaging a paltry half a block a game for his career.

But Love is not foul prone. According to Basketball-Reference.com, he's averaged 2.2 personal fouls per game throughout his six seasons and those numbers came with very high minute totals. Detroit's Andre Drummond led the NBA in personal fouls last season with 273. Love committed 136.

It's easy to avoid committing fouls when you don't play defense. I'm not trying to defend Love as a defender, but it's easy to defend the notion that he's foul prone. That's the beauty of statistics.

Also, if Love didn't play great defense, maybe Taylor should have found a coach who could get him to defend better.

Next, Taylor even talked about Love's exodus, comparing it to Al Jefferson's departure from Minnesota. Jefferson told Taylor directly, while Love's agent relayed the information to the team.

It's funny to lament something like this when Love could've left via free agency without leaving Minny any options. Love gave them an opportunity. By wanting to go somewhere and win championships, it hamstrung the Timberwolves some, but they got a massive haul with those kind of restrictions.

And here's the final quote from Taylor worth discussing:

"I think Kevin, his offensive skills got better than I think we estimated. The only thing that I still have a question mark about will be his health. I had that concern then, I still have that concern and I think Cleveland should have that concern, too. If they sign him to a five-year contract like they're thinking about, I mean that's a big contract in a guy that's had sometimes where he's missed games."

True, Love has never played a full season. He missed almost all of the 2012-13 season with hand injuries.

But this is where it gets downright impossible to defend Taylor and Love said it best on ESPN's "Mike and Mike" when he said, "I think emotions are definitely running high right now. For Glen to say that, I just think that he should be focusing on the players that he just received."

A divorce this public is going to leave scars and those scars are heightened in front of a microphone. Taylor is entitled to speak his mind, but if you look at his comments abstractly, it's borderline disgraceful.

Full disclosure, I'm not the staunch Kevin Love guy most people are. I believe true superstars should elevate teams and Love didn't make the Timberwolves a better team in his tenure. Record-wise, by the end, he did, but in his six seasons in Minnesota, the Timberwolves never made the postseason.

But the Wolves were a disaster in larger part because of bad decisions by Taylor, namely the hiring of David Kahn to run the basketball side of things. Kahn's drafts were horrendous.

In his time, Kahn drafted three point guards in the first 18 picks in 2009. Jonny Flynn was a disaster and Ty Lawson was traded. Ricky Rubio was the survivor and at times, he looks like one of the most brilliant point guards in the universe ... until he shoots the ball. A horse could nudge the ball toward the hoop with his hoof and shoot more efficiently.

Wesley Johnson was taken fourth in 2010, ahead of DeMarcus Cousins, Greg Monroe, Gordon Hayward and Paul George. Anyone can look back in history and hand-pick better players drafted later, but as Ron Burgundy would say about milk on a hot day, Johnson "was a bad choice."

In 2011, Kahn tabbed Derrick Williams with the second pick. History has not been kind to this draft three years later, but Williams didn't even last that long with the franchise before someone realized he couldn't cut it. Williams got traded for Luc Mbah a Moute at the start of his third season. That's not a huge haul so quickly into a No. 2 overall pick's career.

Oh, let's not forget that Kahn only offered Love a four-year deal instead of straight max money. Taylor's injury concerns must have weighed heavy. In a world where maximum contracts have been doled out like free blankets in a credit-card giveaway, suggesting Love wasn't worthy of one is preposterous.

I could beat up on Kahn all day, but once Flip Saunders returned, things looked a little better. Rick Adelman is one of the most underrated coaches in recent memory, but the roster couldn't cut it and Adelman was a spent fighter.

When Adelman left, in part to be with his wife who experienced some health problems, Saunders found no one willing to take the job. He took it himself. It's like when Dick Cheney ran George W. Bush's search for a running mate and landed on himself.

Love gave it a go as best he could. He played hard when he was on the floor, and whether or not I think he's a tad overrated, his numbers stop traffic. He was the core of the rebuilding effort in Minnesota, post Kevin Garnett. It didn't work, but not because Love didn't perform. It didn't work because other personnel decisions crippled the organization.

So Love left and Tuesday should've marked a transition for the Timberwolves franchise. Yet another transition, but a transition nonetheless and this time, it's going to be led by the last two No. 1 picks in the draft, Andrew Wiggins and Anthony Bennett.

Instead of extolling the positive of that, Taylor took shots at Love, and false ones at that.

Taylor lost one of the best players in the game because he didn't want to play for Taylor's team any longer. He didn't want to play in Taylor's city. That hurts. Humans lash out.

Taylor isn't a bad person for doing so. He's not Cavs owner Dan Gilbert writing that insane letter when LeBron left. Taylor is a man full of sour grapes.

Taylor had some valid points, but airing them at all was unnecessary. His franchise has been in tatters for a while. Now, the Timberwolves have a chance at a reclamation project. Taylor's focus should be on building this roster and making sure Wiggins doesn't demand a trade in three years.

Leave the sour grapes to the wine makers to sort out. Taylor needs to get his house in order instead of complaining about the way Love left it.

[SportsNetwork.com]

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