Wolves owner Glen Taylor opens up about the Kevin Love trade
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Falcon Heights, Minn. -- Wolves owner Glen Taylor watched a special gathering Tuesday, as the team introduced four its newest members at the State Fair. Andrew Wiggins, Anthony Bennett, Thaddeus Young and Zach LaVine waved to a crowd and spoke to the press for the first time as new teammates.
Afterward, Taylor spoke freely about the blockbuster Kevin Love trade that landed the Wolves this year's No. 1 overall pick Andrew Wiggins, Anthony Bennett and Thaddeus Young. He said that his preference would have been to keep Love, but after it became clear that would not happen, the Wolves accommodated the disgruntled star and got a nice haul in return.
Still, if he could do it all over again, Taylor said he would have signed Love to the five-year maximum contract in 2012. That way Love would have three seasons left on his contract and the team's outlook would be considerably different. With the benefit of hindsight, it appears safe to say the contract was a mistake. Love made it known that he wanted out and would exercise the opt-out clause that would make him a free agent following this season. So the Wolves once again have hit the reset button.
"I spoke the truth when I said if Kevin [Love] would stay here then we would have the best season. Inside I knew Kevin wasn't giving us that alternative even though it's what I wanted," Taylor said Tuesday. "So now you have the thing where Kevin kind of said, 'trade me or you're going to pay the fine next year if you don't trade me.' I think once we got going on that, we had about four teams that came to us with significant offers. But this one truly had the biggest upside. Flip [Saunders] pushed it and negotiated it the best he could so I'm really happy with it."
Taylor said Love never told him directly that he wanted to be traded. Later, he told a story about how Al Jefferson once called Taylor personally to share his wish to be traded if there would be a minutes crunch at power forward, which Taylor said was a classy move. Love's agent, though, made it clear to Wolves brass that it was his preference not only to be traded, but to be traded to a marquee destination where he could have success. That limited the Wolves' options, but they got one of the best hauls ever for a superstar player.
Taylor said he underestimated Love's ability to develop a lethal offensive game. But the reason Taylor didn't push for the five-year max, he said, was heath concerns about Love.
"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," Taylor said. "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."
Taylor said his relationship with Love remains good, but that he has not talked to him since the season ended. He also said he doesn't plan to talk to him until they run into each other, which presumably would be January 31, when the Wolves host Love's Cavaliers.
"Kevin and I have always had a good relationship. Kevin always said, 'I want to win.' I said, 'I do, too. Stay here, let's win together.'"
In the end, that didn't happen of course, and the Wolves settled on a backup plan that may end up working out for the team. That's yet to be determind. As for Love, Taylor said he questions if Cleveland is the right landing spot for him, where he'll play alongside the best player in the world, LeBron James, and point guard Kyrie Irving. Taylor also nitpicked portions of Love's game.
"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. He's going to have to learn to handle that.
"I think he's around a couple guys are awful good. 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," Taylor said.
Additional listening: Steve McPherson joins the Sports Over Beers podcast to analyze what all the new players mean for the Wolves on the court. The guys also discuss Taylor's comments, which come off as tone-deaf and dampened the mood a little on an otherwise exciting day for the Wolves.