Western Notes: Love, Leonard, Smith

The end of Kevin Love‘s time with Minnesota was “pretty much set in stone” in January 2012 when he inked a four-year extension with a player option after year three instead of a five-year extension, Wolves coach/executive Flip Saunders admits, according to Jerry Zgoda of the Star Tribune. The move that owner Glen Taylor and former GM David Kahn made to withhold a five-year extension from the budding superstar seemingly came back to bite Saunders, Kahn’s successor, when Love made it clear this summer that he’d leave the team via free agency in 2015. Still, Love insists it wasn’t the primary reason he wanted out.

“I don’t know, I think more than anything I just wanted to win,” Love said. “Now that we’re doing it here, I’m very happy. I think that was very shortsighted when it first happened, but in the end it was more the constant losing.”

  •  Spurs coach Gregg Popovich relayed that Kawhi Leonard may end up needing surgery this offseason to repair the torn ligament in his right hand, Mike Monroe of The San Antonio Express-News reports (Twitter link). Leonard is set to become a restricted free agent after the season.
  • A pair of D-League assignments this season have not impacted Pelicans rookie Russ Smith‘s confidence, John Reid of The Times Picayune writes. ”If I go back down, then I’ll just go down and get better,” Smith said. ”But if I’m up here [with the Pelicans], I’ll get better as well. So it’s a win-win situation.” In six games with the Fort Wayne Mad Ants, Smith has averaged 16.5 points, 6.2 assists and 1.8 steals.
  • Houston’s newest acquisition, Corey Brewer, said he didn’t expect his transition to the Rockets to be so easy, Jenny Dial Creech of The Houston Chronicle writes (Twitter links). “But you get out there with these guys, and they make it easy,” Brewer said. His new coach, Kevin McHale was especially happy to have Brewer on the team, Creech adds. McHale called Brewer, “a breath of fresh air,” and also added that Brewer “plays without an agenda.”

Chuck Myron contributed to this post.

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