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Old 01-25-2012, 02:00 PM   #19 (permalink)
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Sources: Kevin Love agrees to deal

The Minnesota Timberwolves and star forward Kevin Love at last have reached terms on a contract extension, according to sources close to the situation, beating Wednesday's midnight ET deadline.

To do so, Minnesota had to grant Love a player option in the final year of a four-year deal worth in excess of $60 million, sources said.

The deal will be signed Wednesday afternoon, after the Timberwolves complete their shootaround in Dallas, a source said. The teams play Wednesday night.

Love said the contract would be signed by tipoff, The Associated Press reported.

"I like the direction the team is headed," Love said. "I like the youth. I like the pieces, like we're knocking at the door and we're close in a lot of games."

A post on Love's verified Twitter page hinted that the deal was all but complete: "To #twolves fans: I'll be in Minnesota for 4 more years! Excited to see you when I get back to Minneapolis."

Sources close to the process told ESPN.com that Love was determined to have the ability to opt out and become an unrestricted free agent after three seasons if he didn't like the direction of the team.

Love is eligible for the same five-year, $80 million extension that the Oklahoma City Thunder awarded guard Russell Westbrook last week.

But the Wolves, sources said, refused all month to budge on their offer and give Love a fifth year, which would have made him Minnesota's "designated player." Based on the NBA's new collective bargaining agreement, every team is allowed to have one "designated player" who receives a five-year maximum extension on his rookie contract.

Because of the team's stance, Love and agent Jeff Schwartz insisted that the final year of a four-year deal would be at the All-Star forward's option. That means Love will have the right to become an unrestricted free agent in summer 2015 if the Timberwolves, who haven't made the playoffs since 2003-04 and are last in the Northwest Division, don't become a consistent winner.

Love did say he wondered if the deal would get done.

"I was willing to make a commitment for five years. They thought otherwise," he told AP. "I'm glad this is out of the way. It was drawn out until 8 a.m., 9 a.m. this morning."

Love played through illness Monday night against Houston and totaled 39 points and 12 rebounds. He's averaging 24.9 points and 13.9 rebounds through 17 games this season after last year becoming the first player since Moses Malone in 1982-83 to average 20 points and 15 rebounds for an entire season.
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