In his second stint in Minnesota, Flip Saunders has resumed a very powerful role in the Timberwolves organization. He returned to the team last month (after a nine-year exile) as the president of basketball operations and a part-owner of the team. After an exhaustive coaching search that prompted a controversy in Memphis and included an overture to Jeff Van Gundy, Saunders hired… himself. In a radio interview over the weekend, Saunders was very forthcoming about the Kevin Love situation.
Saunders came out and said that while the team has a right to be frustrated about the position they’re in and where they stand as a basketball team, no individual has a right to be frustrated—especially not the team’s best player. He used Kevin Garnett as an example, explaining how early in his career, Garnett demanded his teammates to give him more, except veteran Sam Mitchell turned it back on him and told KG, “you’re making all the money, you’ve got to live up to that.”
So, in translation, it sounds like Saunders wants no part of Love’s whining, which is a curious approach to take publicly with a superstar that wants out. Unless: Saunders and the ‘Wolves have already made up their mind that they’re headed for a break-up with their star.
Meanwhile, at an appearance in Italy, Ricky Rubio also weighed in on Kevin Love saying that he’d eventually give Love a call. Rubio said the purpose of their talk will not be to convince Love to stay in Minny, but to let him know that he thinks they can continue to improve together. Rubio also said, “If he leaves, it’s going to be painful because he’s a main guy. But it depends what we get back for him.” He also reiterated the fact that he does not think another year of rebuilding will be beneficial for the team. Rubio is eligible for a four-year extension this summer, which is an interesting twist to the Timberwolves’ current drama.
These are not encouraging words coming out of Minnesota this weekend, in what’s looking increasingly like a team and a superstar heading towards a split.
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