The Minnesota Timberwolves signed their guy.
According to multiple media outlets, the Wolves and superstar Kevin Love have reached an agreement on a contract extension that will keep the 23-year old in Minnesota for at least four more seasons.
Love’s maximum contract is estimated to be worth 62 million dollars over the duration of the four-year deal.
It was first reported that a deal had been reached late Tuesday night, but with no official signing until this afternoon.
According to twincities.com Timberwolves’ beat writer Ray Richardson late Tuesday night:
Timberwolves all-star Kevin Love, facing the prospect of becoming a restricted free agent after the season, is expected to sign a four-year, $62 million contract extension today, according to a person with close knowledge of the situation.
Wolves president of basketball operations David Kahn and team lawyers accompanied the team to Dallas on Tuesday afternoon to complete paperwork on the contract, the source said.
At one point Tuesday night there were contrasting opinions on the actuality of a deal being completed before Wednesday night’s deadline.
Per ESPN late last night:
Any word of the contract talks being “ongoing” appear now to have just been a smokescreen in the event that the deal fell through at the last minute.
Proving that the deal is officially signed and contract talks have been finalized, ESPN’s Chris Broussard and Marc Stein broke the news today:
To do so, Minnesota had to grant Love a player option in the final year of a four-year deal worth in excess of $60 million, sources said.
The deal will be signed Wednesday afternoon, after the Wolves complete their morning shootaround in Dallas, a source said. The teams play tonight.
TwinCities.com’s Ray Richardson held strong in the odd media battle to break the story first, while others debated if in fact a deal was complete, in the works, or just a false rumor. It appears that Richardson was right all along.
Love will be the focal point of a Timberwolves franchise that is on a definitive rise into the realm of playoff contender in the Western Conference. By signing Love to this maximum contract, it shows future free agents that the Wolves are serious about having success during the Love era in Minnesota.
Also, the Wolves were able to keep their “designated player” option. This clause allows a team with a player who’s rookie contract is expiring while on their roster to sign a five-year maximum contract regardless of their position below or above the salary cap. Kahn held strong that he wanted to save that “designated player” option for the future, presumably on point guard Ricky Rubio.
Before the contract was finalized on Wednesday, there was a standoff of sorts over the duration of the contract. Love wanted five years, while–considering the future use of the “designated player” option–Kahn wanted to sign Love to just four years.
According to CBS Sports on Tuesday night:
Love has reportedly sought a 5-year deal worth closer to $80 million. Wolves president David Kahn reportedly made a 4-year offer worth $60 million last week.
While it appears that Kahn won the standoff with Love’s agent Jeff Schwartz, that is in essence irrelevant. It is the fans of the Minnesota Timberwolves that are the winners; they get to watch at least four more years of one of the elite basketball players in the game today.
Love, who is fifth in the league in scoring (24.9) and second the in league in rebounds (13.9), has put up numbers this season that would warrant a contract of that nature.
As Broussard and Stein reported, Love does have the option to opt out after year three of the contract. In granting Love the option to opt out after the third year, the Wolves will need to continue to show consistent improvement in order for the superstar forward to stick around for that fourth year.
While it may have taken longer than expected, hats off to Kahn, Schwartz, and Love for getting a deal done while keeping the fans relatively happy throughout the process.
Brett is a contributor to The Sports Bank. He covers all things Minnesota sports. He is also the co-host of ‘The Backdoor Cut’ on KFAN.com. You can follow him on Twitter @brettcloutier.