Love: We (Wolves) should be in playoffsWhen last season ended, Kevin Love didn’t hide the fact that he expected big changes to occur this offseason to upgrade the talent around one of the NBA’s rising stars.
MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — When last season ended, Kevin Love didn’t hide the fact that he expected big changes to occur this offseason to upgrade the talent around one of the NBA’s rising stars.
Now that he’s returned to Minnesota with a gold medal around his neck and seen the new faces that Timberwolves president David Kahn brought in this summer to add some much-needed experience to one of the youngest teams in the league, Love can’t wait to get to work.
“I have faith in this team,” Love said on Tuesday. “I have faith in what we’ve done this offseason.”
The Wolves signed shooting guard Brandon Roy, forward Andrei Kirilenko, big men Greg Stiemsma and Lou Amundson and Russian guard Alexey Shved in addition to trading for hard-nosed Memphis forward Dante Cunningham. The massive makeover adds maturity, grit and, if Roy’s knees hold up, some fourth-quarter playmaking.
The Wolves also jettisoned Darko Milicic, Anthony Randolph and Michael Beasley in an effort to inject some more professionalism and commitment to a locker room that Love thought didn’t take the games seriously enough.
One of the biggest things that stood out to Love in his run with Team USA at the London Olympics was the mentality that superstars like LeBron James, Kobe Bryant and Kevin Durant took in every practice and every game.
“It was a tremendous summer for me, and a tremendous summer for our team,” Love said. “I think heading forward, there are a number of guys that will help us, especially in relation to last year. There are a lot of guys that will help us and help our locker room.”
Love averaged 26 points and 13.3 rebounds per game for the Wolves last season, cementing himself as the game’s best power forward.
“We’ve definitely added value to this team,” Love said.
Now the next step he wants to take is the playoffs. The Timberwolves? In the playoffs? It hasn’t happened since 2004.
“Why wouldn’t I say that? Why wouldn’t I come out and say positive reinforcement?” Love said. “Look at the players we have and the success we had before we fought that battle of attrition and had four or five players hurt.”
The Wolves were in position to make the playoffs in March of last year before Rubio went down with a torn ACL and Beasley, Pekovic, JJ Barea and Luke Ridnour also battled numerous injuries.
Rubio has started running and hopes to return sometime in December, and Love, who starts the first season of a four-year, $60 million extension, thinks the Wolves are finally ready to make this run.
“I really think we have a great shot to make the playoffs,” Love said. “If anyone else says otherwise, I think we have to go out there and prove what we’re made of.”