Kevin Love is staying with the Minnesota Timberwolves.
Love and the team agreed to a four-year contract extension worth between $60 million and $62 million, a deal that includes a player option in the final year, according to a person familiar with the situation who spoke Wednesday on condition of anonymity because the deal had not been officially announced.
The All-Star power forward and the team faced an 11 p.m. CST Wednesday deadline to sign an extension. If not, Love would have become a restricted free agent this summer.
Love, who was with the team in Dallas before Wednesday night's game against the Mavericks, said the contract would be signed by tipoff.
"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."
He did say he wondered if the deal would get gone. "I was willing to make a commitment for five years. They thought otherwise," he said. "I'm glad this is out of the way. It was drawn out until 8 a.m., 9 a.m. this morning."
Love ranks fifth in the league with 24.9 points per game, second with 13.9 rebounds and first with 39.4 minutes played. He has emerged as the face of the franchise and is a key building block for the team and new coach Rick Adelman.
"We have a lot of power in our hands and we're only going to get better from here on out," LOve said. "Because we are such a young team, we have pieces that are going to continue to grow together and we have a young, cohesive unit that's able to co-exist out there on the floor."
The new collective bargaining agreement allows the Timberwolves to offer Love more money than any other team. They chose to offer him a maximum salary contract of four years and roughly $60 million, rather than using their one-time "designated player" contract for five years and around $80 million. Each team can only use one five-year contract during the term of the CBA, so the Wolves wanted to save that chip to give them as much salary cap flexibility in future years as possible.
"Did I want the five years? Of course. It was something that I felt strongly about, but at the end of the day, a four-year deal is so great and I'm going to continue to keep excelling, keep improving myself."
Love is in his fourth season in the NBA. The son of a former NBA player and nephew of a Beach Boys icon, Love was a high school star in Oregon, an All-American in his only season at UCLA and last year led the NBA in rebounding. He became the first player in more than two decades to have 30 rebounds and 30 points in the same game and became an All-Star in just his third season as a pro.
Contributing to this report are MPR reporter Sasha Aslanian, and freelance writer Amit Kaluskar in Dallas.
(Copyright 2012 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)