MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — A season that never really started for Kevin Love is now officially over.
Love will have arthroscopic surgery to remove a buildup of scar tissue in his left knee, the Timberwolves announced on Monday night. The Wolves called it a minor procedure and said Love was expected to be out four to six weeks while recovering.
The Timberwolves and Love were hoping the star forward could return from surgery on his broken right hand in time to play five or six games, but this development ended those hopes.
“I think he feels very poorly about this year,” Timberwolves president of basketball operations David Kahn said in a conference call on Monday night.
“It’s been, frankly, a lost season for him. He’s already said that, at least in part, to me. He’s very hopeful he has a huge offseason. He very much feels he wants to make amends for what happened this year.”
Or what didn’t happen.
Love was coming off a breakout season in 2011-12 and fresh off playing a critical role in helping the United States to the gold medal in London when he showed up for training camp.
He also was starting the first season of a big new contract extension and planned on getting the Timberwolves to the playoffs for the first time since 2004.
But he broke his right hand just before the regular season and missed almost the entire first month of the season. Love returned from that injury ahead of schedule, but struggled mightily to find his shooting stroke.
Then, just 18 games into his comeback, he broke his hand again. Love needed surgery this time to repair it, and the Wolves were hopeful he was going to get back on the court before the season ended.
Kahn said that he started feeling some minor discomfort in his knee while he was playing in December, but neither he nor the team felt it was serious enough to get an MRI.
After breaking his hand a second time, Love started ramping up his workouts in preparation to get back. But the knee only got sorer, and so the decision was made on Monday to have surgery.
“I think it wasn’t one day or one event,” Kahn said. “As time went on and as he began ramping up his workouts with the intent of playing this season, the knee started hurting more. It got to the point where we felt the best course of action was to address it now. It was affecting the way he runs.”
Love averaged 18.3 points and 14 rebounds this season.
The scar tissue was also giving him some discomfort in his hip. Having the surgery now is driven in part by Love’s desire to have a full offseason to come back stronger next year, Kahn said.
When he does come back, Love will have to mend fences with many Timberwolves fans who were angered by some critical comments he made about the organization shortly after he returned to the court from his first hand injury.
When he didn’t immediately resume the All-Star form he had exhibited the previous two seasons, some fans turned on the popular star, and his injury-filled season has only seemed to increase the frustration.
Love certainly hasn’t been the only one hurt on the Wolves this season.
Ricky Rubio didn’t return from his torn ACL until the middle of December and not until the middle of February did he start playing like the dynamic point guard he was before being injured.
Nikola Pekovic, Andrei Kirilenko and Chase Budinger also missed significant amounts of time with various injuries and Brandon Roy’s chronic knee issues have kept him off the court most of the season as well.
Love will likely have surgery on Wednesday in New York and is expected to be back up to full speed by early June.
“It’s been one heck of a season,” Kahn said. “He just feels very badly about it, which is understandable.”
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