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Updated: June 2nd, 2014 4:33pm
Zulgad: Wolves have to be careful not to flip over Love's manipulating move

Zulgad: Wolves have to be careful not to flip over Love's manipulating move

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by Judd Zulgad
1500ESPN.com

When is Kevin Love going to say something?

That has been a question since the most recent reports surfaced last month that the star forward had informed the Timberwolves he had no intention of remaining in Minnesota once his contract expires after the 2014-15 season.

Love finally delivered a message over the weekend but it was done in the most manipulative and calculating manner possible. It also came with a modicum of words.

Rather than telling one of his national media mouthpieces that he wanted the Wolves to move him as soon as possible, Love showed up "unannounced" in Boston and spent the weekend checking out the town. He also just "happened" to cross paths with Celtics star Rajon Rondo at the Red Sox game Sunday at Fenway Park because a fan just happened to ask Rondo about Love.

Oh, and for good measure, Love's agent, Jeff Schwartz, put his client in club seats at Fenway that provided the perfect photo opportunity for media outlets and, geez, the Boston Globe just happened to catch wind of Love's entire trip and was able to produce a lengthy story on the situation.

It didn't hurt the Globe's chances of finding out about this when Love dropped into an establishment known as The Greatest Bar at around 9 p.m. on Friday. The bar is located across the street from the Celtics home, TD Garden, and the owner of the bar, Bill Fairweather, is a former ESPN producer and radio co-host, according to the Globe.

Yep, all of these things were nothing more than happy coincidences.

It remains to be seen if Love is going to take his traveling show to every city where the Wolves might end up looking to trade him, but it's now more clear than ever that Flip Saunders' year-long effort to attempt to convince Love that he's wanted and needed in Minnesota did not work.

"The last I knew Kevin was under contract with us, and I expect him to be playing for us next year," Saunders, the Wolves' president of basketball operations, told reporters on Sunday. "I don't really dictate where guys go on vacation or what they do. They can go wherever they want to go."

Saunders is no dummy. He knows exactly what's going on here. The shame in this is that Love finds himself unable to handle the situation in a classy manner. Love has turned himself into a world-class whiner who is still mad he didn't get the maximum deal from the Wolves coming out of the NBA lockout in 2012.

He was angry at David Kahn, the Wolves' former president of basketball operations, and that resentment also has been extended toward owner Glen Taylor.

It's likely that Saunders, hired in May 2013, is equally as frustrated with Taylor. If Kahn and Taylor had made the right decision, this situation wouldn't exist. What Love should realize is that this wasn't Saunders' doing.

If Love wants out, and we all know he does, he should just say so. Instead, he's attempting to make things as toxic as possible.

The most important thing for Saunders and Taylor is to make sure they don't reciprocate Love's anger. If the two are saying they aren't going to trade Love because they want to create as much leverage as possible, that's one thing.

But if they become so upset that they really do decide to hold onto him and make him sweat it out before attempting to make a deal that would be a mistake. Every team in the NBA knows Love wants to leave, so the key to this poker game is to play as many teams against each other as possible.

Meanwhile, it might be best for Saunders to inform his recalcitrant forward that it's time to end the publicity tour. The Wolves would be wise to move Love, but if he thinks he's going to call the shots on where he lands, he's sadly mistaken.

At this point, Love is nothing more than a disgruntled employee who needs to be moved. His happiness or satisfaction should not matter to one person who works at Target Center. What should matter is getting the best return possible and then moving on with life.

Judd Zulgad is a columnist for 1500ESPN.com. He co-hosts "Mackey & Judd" from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. weekdays and "Saturday Morning SportsTalk" from 10 a.m. to noon on 1500 ESPN Twin Cities.
Email Judd | @1500ESPNJudd | Mackey & Judd
In this story: Kevin Love
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