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Minnesota Timberwolves coach Flip Saunders has revealed his belief that the franchise’s fans won’t forgive Kevin Love for leaving them this past summer.
Love joined LeBron James and Co. in Cleveland ahead of this season and he has previously exchanged words through the media with owner Glen Taylor.
However, Saunders has now entered the discussion ahead of the Timberwolves facing Love and his new team at the Quicken Loans Arena on Tuesday night.
The 26-year-old spent six frustrating seasons in Minnesota as he missed out on the playoffs in every year that he spent with the franchise, but despite suggesting that the fans will not forgive him for leaving, Saunders says he personally doesn’t harbour any grudges towards his former star.
“Minnesota people are pretty loyal. You turn on Minnesota, they don’t forgive you,” Saunders said after practice Monday.
“So I think people probably appreciated him while he was here. But you leave under the terms that he did, just the way Minnesota people are, they’re not pretty forgiving along those lines.”
Love’s relationship with the Timberwolves soured in 2012 when previous president of basketball operations David Kahn declined to offer him a full, maximum five-year contract extension. Instead, an annoyed Love signed a four-year deal with an opt-out after three seasons and he never forgave Kahn or Taylor for the lack of respect and loyalty.
Saunders replaced Kahn in 2013 and after spending all season last year trying to convince Love to stay, he knew that the damage had already been done and a trade deal with the Cavaliers was eventually agreed upon.
Love has settled into life in Cleveland and he will now hope to help the franchise push on and compete for a championship this year while Minnesota continue to adapt and adjust to life without him with a new young nucleus of players running through the roster.