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Disappointed Wolves enter offseason of uncertainty

Published on NewsOK Modified: April 17, 2014 at 5:25 pm •  Published: April 17, 2014
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MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — Kevin Love sat in front of his locker after the Minnesota Timberwolves' season came to a close, his sixth year in the NBA and his sixth without a trip to the playoffs.

Love hung his head and stared at the floor while reporters asked questions about this particularly disappointing season. His body language is more a personality quirk than a referendum on Love's happiness or unhappiness with the only team he's played for, but nevertheless it projects a dour image that makes Timberwolves fans very nervous.

Asked if he expected to be in a Timberwolves uniform next season, Love gave a long pause and kept staring at the floor, offering no answer before the interview was cut short. And with that, an offseason of uncertainty in Minnesota began.

The Timberwolves won nine more games than they did a year earlier, and Love and Ricky Rubio made it through the entire season healthy after struggling with injuries in 2012-13. Yet after a loss to the lowly Utah Jazz lowered their record to 40-42, the overwhelming feeling that pervaded the locker room was one of disappointment.

This was supposed to be the year the Timberwolves snapped the lengthiest current playoff drought in the NBA, rose out of the decade-long abyss and delivered a strong message to Love that he should stay in Minnesota.

Instead, the Wolves put forth one of the most inconsistent seasons in coach Rick Adelman's 23 years in the league. They won 12 games by at least 20 points and beat the Heat, Grizzlies, Rockets and Spurs late in the season. But they also lost 13 by four points or fewer and fell to the Jazz, Magic and Kings in the last two weeks.

Love put up monster numbers, averaging 26.1 points, 12.5 rebounds and 4.4 assists. But it wasn't enough to get the Timberwolves into the playoffs for the first time since 2004.

"I carry a lot of the weight," Love said. "That's what I get paid to do. A lot of it rides on my shoulders and I'm going to keep working hard to change that."

It is widely expected that Adelman will not return next season, but President Flip Saunders' ability to land a high-profile replacement may be challenging with the uncertainty of Love's situation. The forward can opt out of his contract after next season, and he might look to go to a bigger market with a better chance to win if things don't improve significantly very soon.

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