Right around the time Spike Albrecht was introducing himself to America, Kevin Love's frustrating 2012-13 came to an end. The Minnesota Timberwolves announced Monday night that the All-Star power forward will miss the remainder of the regular season — but, in a bit of a twist, the season-ending injury has nothing to do with the two broken bones in his right hand that limited him to just 18 games this year. As FOX Sports North's Joan Niesen reported Monday, what's putting Love on the shelf for good is actually scar tissue that has built up in his left knee.
The arthroscopic procedure is reportedly intended to address an issue that cropped up several weeks after Love's January hand surgery and has become more acute in recent days. Wolves President of Basketball Operations David Kahn told the team's website he "believes the procedure will take place on Wednesday in New York City," with Love's recovery expected to take four to six weeks and have him back in plenty of time for a full offseason workout program.
More from Kahn, via Wolves.com's Mark Remme:
“I think disappointment will suffice for now, I can’t think of a better word,” Kahn said. “But as he put it, I’ll put it in more reader friendly words, it’s been one heck of a season. He feels very badly about it, which is understandable.” [...]
“As time went on, with the intent of playing this season, the knees started hurting more,” Kahn said. “It got to the point over the last few days that it should be addressed now. It was affecting his ability to run, even. At that point we tipped the balance toward we should do it now.” [...]
“That’s why we’re doing it now as opposed to the end of the season,” Kahn said. “So I think it’s been there for a while, and I think this should clean it up for the long haul. And I imagine his knee will be pain free and his hip will be pain free once he recovers.”
In the short term, bringing Love's disappointing season to an official end makes no meaningful difference to the Wolves. Rick Adelman's 29-47 team has long since been eliminated from playoff contention in the Western Conference; if anything, getting Love back for the final six games would probably only serve to harm Minnesota's lottery prospects. (And we're guessing the Utah Jazz, who are fighting for the West's final playoff spot and get the Wolves twice in the next seven days, didn't mind seeing this news.)
In the long term, though, Love's shutdown eliminates any chance for Kahn and the rest of Minnesota's decision-making brass to get another look at their top gun sharing the floor with point guard Ricky Rubio, small forward Andrei Kirilenko and center Nikola Pekovic — expected to be the core group driving Minnesota back into playoff contention in a double-tough Western Conference — before the summer. As I wrote a couple of weeks ago, that foursome played just 12 minutes together this year due to a rash of injuries; now, that's all they'll get before the offseason. And it could be all they get at all — remember, Kirilenko can opt out of the final year of his two-year, $20 million contract following the season, and I wouldn't bet against the 32-year-old Russian getting multiple multi-year offers around the league, and Pekovic will hit restricted free agency, and I'd be shocked if he didn't get presented with an eight-figure-per-year offer sheet in the process. The combination of the impending financial realities and the relative lack of information about just how good that expected core could be will make for some difficult decisions in Minnesota this summer, for sure.
Still, as NBA.com's Steve Aschburner notes, the expectation that Love's hand, hip and knee will all be back to full health in June is a start, at least — something to build on for next season. It's just a shame it had to grow out of such a frustrating false start, and such a whimper of an end, to this one.