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Kevin Love Injury Will Help Minnesota Timberwolves in Long Run

MIAMI, FL - DECEMBER 18: Kevin Love #42 of the Minnesota Timberwolves looks on during a game against the Miami Heat at American Airlines Arena on December 18, 2012 in Miami, Florida. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images)
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Alex BallentineFeatured ColumnistMarch 16, 2013

Minnesota Timberwolves fans hoping to see Kevin Love play for the team by the end of the season may be disappointed.

Although it's seemed as though he would make a return to the lineup for the final stretch of games, the latest word from Jerry Zgoda of the Star Tribune isn't as positive.

...Love knows the season is ticking away on him and he said before Friday’s game at Houston there’s a chance he won’t play again this season.

“I’d say that has crossed my mind, but as far as making a decision, I haven’t made that decision yet,” he said.

While the return of Love for the home stretch would make Minnesota win a few more games, missing the rest of the season wouldn't be the end of the world. In fact, it could be a positive for the long-term future of the franchise.

There's no doubt that the team is better when Love is on the floor. He's one of the Association's top power forwards and instantly makes the young Timberwolves a team no one wants to play.

However, that doesn't mean much for a team that is currently 22-41 and well out of the playoff race.

Here are three reasons that holding Love out for the rest of the season would benefit the Timberwolves in the long run.

 

Ensures Love's Health

Even if Love feels like he can return, it's not worth the risk of re-injury.

He originally broke the hand in October of 2012 and was forced to miss time at the beginning of the season. He then re-injured the hand in early January and decided to have surgery on it.

After breaking the same hand twice in one season, it's clear that Love just isn't meant to be in the lineup this season. The Timberwolves focus really needs to be on next season—if he were to re-injure the hand once again, that would already put a damper on what could be a big year in 2013-2014.

Considering the extensive injury history that Love's hand piled up this season, allowing him an entire offseason to work himself back into the game seems like the optimal approach to his recovery.

 

Development of the Team

The Timberwolves season has been decimated by the injury bug. Their poor record isn't really an indication of the talent that is on this roster.

Ricky Rubio is a star in the making and his development will be key if the franchise wants to become a real contender. Derrick Williams is finally coming into his own, and Nikola Pekovic (when healthy himself) is a promising center that can eventually pair with Love to form a dynamic frontcourt.

However, Love's return will mean fewer touches for all of those players and a recalibration of their roles on the offensive end of the floor. For now, the team would be wise to let Love recover fully from his injury and allow the other players to continue to gel.

Once again, they have an entire offseason to have Love assimilate into the offense.

 

Tank Time

It's an unavoidable and unfortunate fact in the NBA—losing is winning.

Tanking has become the norm for the NBA's bottom feeders at the end of the season. With their best player already on the shelf, the T'Wolves are in a great position to lose their way to a higher draft pick.

At 22-41, they are one of around six teams that have a similar record. The amount of ping pong balls each team receives in the lottery will be determined by a few games here and there.

The difference between a few picks in the first round could be the difference between getting another young starter that will be a true difference maker or drafting a role player to come off the bench.

Why bring in a guy that's going to help you win more games down the stretch? Unfortunately, it's just not worth it.

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