In advance of Saturday's game between Cleveland and Minnesota, Love's first trip back to the Land of 10,000 Lakes since an offseason trade, the Timberwolves posted a YouTube video dubbed, "#TheReturn." Rather than a tear-jerking round-up of Love's six years in Minnesota, however, the video snubs him entirely.
"It's all been building up to this, the game we've been waiting for," the video pronounces, while flashing images of LeBron James, Kyrie Irving, J.R. Smith, Timofey Mozgov and a number of other Cavaliers players before setting up the punchline. "And the return of... Mike Miller."
Miller, a well-traveled small forward, spent the 2008-09 season in Minnesota.
The end of Love's time in Minnesota was filled with reports of frustration at six straight lottery trips, unhappiness with his failure to receive a full five-year max contract, and plenty of trade rumors in advance of the 2015 free agency period, when Love would have been able to leave as an unrestricted free agent. Timberwolves president Flip Saunders ultimately traded Love to the Cavaliers for 2014 No. 1 overall pick Andrew Wiggins, 2013 No. 1 overall pick Anthony Bennett and a 2015 first-round pick. After the trade, Timberwolves owner Glen Taylor publicly questioned Love's ability to stay healthy, his defensive effort, and how he would adapt to playing in a "Big 3,"
Although Love's acclimation in Cleveland has been less than ideal, the Cavaliers (27-20) are riding an 8-game winning streak and almost certainly playoff-bound. The Timberwolves, meanwhile, have the league's worst record (8-37) and have suffered through an injury-plagued season.
In that context, and considering Timberwolves owner it's hard not to read a little bitterness into the franchise's "Return" video, especially when contrasting it to the "Welcome Back" videos we've seen for Rajon Rondo in Boston and Vince Carter in Toronto recently. Perhaps it's too early to reflect on any of the good times generated during Love's tenure in Minnesota, and maybe the snarky approach will speak to Timberwolves fans who are frustrated with Love's desire to want out. One wonders, though, whether stoking the tension with one of the best players in team history for cheap laughs is in the franchise's long-term best interests.
Love, 26, is averaging 17.1 points, 10.3 rebounds and 2.3 assists this season.