In the summer of 1998, many Wolves fans applauded management’s decision to extend the contract for franchise player Kevin Garnett, signing him to a six year, $126 million dollar deal. It was one of the richest contracts of all time. However, this deal HAD to get done. KG was a burgeoning star who was reaching the prime of, what would become, a Hall of Fame career.
The years to follow were a frustrating time in the lives of many Wolves fans. We watched as a comical parade of failed draft picks, Doodoo Eebee (sp), and free agent signings, Michael “The Candy Man” Olowokandi, masqueraded as a supporting cast for KG. Oh sure, there were some decent players sprinkled in (think Tom Gugliotta and Tom Gugliotta 2.0: Wally Szcerbiak), but, we never seemed to put that solid supporting cast together.
Fast forward to today. More than twenty years have gone by and the Wolves were faced with a similar conundrum: potential, superstar forward, Kevin Love, on the brink of his prime, was about to be a restricted free agent. Again, the Wolves HAD to sign him. They appeased the mob and Love has reportedly signed a four year, $62 million deal. Though, the cynic in me (thanks Joe Smith) is already thinking, great, we signed him, but what is next?
I know what you are thinking, “Yeah, but Love’s situation is different. He has El Pistola.” True enough. Love has Ricky Rubio. Rubio is the transcendent, point guard KG never had. And yes, I am purposely ignoring the existence of Starbury and his face tattoo. Rubio is the Stockton to Love’s Malone. But, Rubio’s circumstances bring the important clause of Love’s deal into sharp relief.
Love’s deal has a player opt-out clause after three years. That coincides EXACTLY with the expiration of Rubio’s rookie contract. Trust me, when I realized this, I got that feeling you get, at night, when you are driving (okay, speeding), and you think you see those oh-so-recognizable headlights of a cop in the rearview. At first you rationalize, “I was only going 10 MPH over” and then the panic sets in “Are those flashers or a bike rack??”
Now that the ink has dried on Love’s contract, as a life-long Wolves fan, I am beyond rationalizing and fear. That opt out clause is nothing but trouble. I am at full on paranoia. Here is hoping that the Wolves continue to improve this promising young roster and that it is only one of those annoying, retired patrol cars behind us.