by Judd Zulgad
If the Minnesota Timberwolves are close to signing Kevin Love to a contract extension, that is news to the All-Star forward.
Love, appearing on "Judd & Phunn" Monday morning on 1500 ESPN, said he isn't paying attention to contract talks between the team and his agent, Jeff Schwartz, as a Jan. 25 deadline approaches for him to sign an extension that could earn him $84 million over five years.
"I think we started negotiations but as far as I know nothing has been said, at least to me," Love said. "People can speculate, (if) they want. I wish I could tell you more, but I guess we'll just have to wait and see what happens. As of right now, all I can say is I'm focused on tonight and we need to get a win."
Love, 23, is averaging a team-leading 25 points and 14.6 rebounds per game entering Monday's game against Sacramento at Target Center.
If the Jan. 25 deadline passes, Love would become a restricted free agent in the summer and then would be unrestricted in 2013.
The Wolves have the advantage right now of trying to sign Love to a five-year extension that would contain raises of 7.5 percent annually if extend him an offer of a maximum contract and "designated-player status."
As a restricted free-agent, other NBA teams only will be able to extend Love offers of a four-year contract with raises of 4.5 percent.
The issue is that if Love goes the restricted free-agent route it could be his first step toward leaving town after the 2013-14 season.
Love is in his fourth season with the Wolves and has seen plenty of bad times so far. Although the Wolves are 4-8 entering Monday's game, Love realizes things should be getting better with rookie point guard Ricky Rubio and coach Rick Adelman now on board.
So does he want to be a part of that future?
"We have a young cohesive unit that's able to coexist out there on the floor," Love said. "We are turning the corner, we are right there in games, so good times are coming with a lot of wins in the future. Hopefully, sooner rather than later and with Coach Adelman it's also bright as well.
"When you put all that into effect and you kind of take a step and look at what's on the horizon, it is fun to kind of speculate and kind of see where we're headed. But as far as right now, like I mentioned, I wish I could tell you more about what's going on in the front office (with the contract talks) but I just want to continue to get better and win tonight."
On Monday, Love learned he was named one of 20 finalists for the 2012 U.S. Olympics men's basketball team. That list will be whittled to a final 12-man roster for the Summer Games in London.
"It's very important," to be picked, Love said. "Not only individually being a part of that group, but also being able to represent your country. Wear the red, white and blue. Have the USA across your chest. It just feels great."
Love said he benefitted from playing on the U.S. team that went 9-0 and won the gold medal at the 2010 world championship games in Istanbul, Turkey.
"That was a special time for me," he said. "I was able to get so much better playing with those upper echelon, big-time caliber players day in and day out. That helped my game. But also we were able to go abroad, see different countries and also win the gold medal. That was a tremendous experience for me so I'm hoping to end up in London."
Phatz sez: I'm starting to panic about this y'all. I don't think it's going to happen.