Kevin Love remains on the Cavs roster, but perhaps not for much longer
Even as it appears he already has one foot out the door, Cleveland Cavaliers forward Kevin Love vows to bring a positive attitude around the very young Cavs team. Now how much longer that will be still remains to be seen.
The 14-year veteran, who spent the first six seasons of his career with the Minnesota Timberwolves before getting traded to Cleveland and helping the team win a historic championship two years later, is now the longest-tenured player on the team. Possibly not for long.
It seems like ever since he first arrived in Northeast Ohio, Love had always been involved in rumors that involved shipping him out of town, one way or another. The latest in the form of reports about a potential buyout of his remaining two-year, $60 million deal.
“Sometimes s*** is thrown against the wall and people are seeing who’s gonna read it and who’s gonna see it,” said Love as he addressed reporters at the recent Cavaliers media day, dismissing any buyout negotiations between his camp and the team as mere speculation.
While it is no secret that Love wants to play meaningful basketball alongside legitimate playoff contenders at this stage of his career, the Cavs are going in a completely different direction and are in the middle a long rebuild.
A separation, whether via a trade or indeed a buyout, seems the inevitable conclusion. But we all know that’s easier said than done.
“I’m still sitting here year 14 as a Cav. Listen, it’s a young team. That’s obviously where this is headed and where this is going, but what I’m gonna try to be is, like I told Koby and J.B., a positive force wherever this ends up.”
Many accused him of being mentally checked out for the last two years, but the five-time NBA All-Star still appeared engaged and animated when with the team, mentoring the young players even while sidelined on the bench with injuries.
However, the outspoken mental health advocate did have both public and private episodes of outbursts, but has since apologized and has taken full accountability. Everyone involved would hope there would be much less of those distractions this time around.
“I want it to be positive, and it’s the same thing last year. We know what was going on within the locker room, everybody had their moments me included, maybe me specifically, but I want to make sure that it’s going to be positive so long as I’m donning a Cavs jersey,” Love doubled down.
So what’s next for Kevin Love and the Cavs?
In the offseason, Cleveland added two power forwards in third overall pick Evan Mobley and former Chicago Bull Lauri Markkanen, potentially limiting the minutes the 33-year-old Love may get. He claims a conversation about his role has yet to take place, but appears to be keeping an open mind.
An abundance of big men is a good dilemma to have if you’re J.B. Bickerstaff, and Love stated he trusts the Cavs head coach. After all, the pair have a working relationship dating back to Love’s rookie season in the league while Bickerstaff was part of the coaching staff back in Minnesota.
“I know what it takes to minutes in this league.. We have really good young basketball players on this team so for me, again, I just want to be the best version of myself but more than anything just be available,” added Love. “It’s gonna be one of those situations where if the guys are playing great and affecting the team in the right way, he’s gonna play, as he should.”
Apart from working out together days before training camp, he joined members of the team and went to dinner the night prior to media day, showing willingness from all parties to form some semblance of a healthy, functioning unit while they try to figure out the next steps.
The last remaining link to the 2016 championship-winning squad also complimented the young core of Mobley, Markkanen, Darius Garland, Collin Sexton, and Jarrett Allen, and seemed genuinely excited about the opportunity to continue mentoring them both on and off the court.
Overall, the grizzled veteran forward just wants to remain available on the court and prove he still got it, and perhaps reclaim his stock and aid the complicated contract situation, because a buyout clearly isn’t ideal for either party.
Providing Love can remain healthy and provide a fairly decent output even with the expected drop in minutes and usage, a handful of contending teams could definitely make good use of his services.
When fit and mentally locked in, he still brings a lot to the table: his outside shooting ability, rebounding, and playmaking–especially those fullcourt touchdown passes. The botched Team USA stint is proof that people still see his value as a player, and now he’ll have perhaps one last chance.
Despite everything that has transpired the past three years, Kevin Love will undoubtedly still go down as a Cleveland sports legend and see his number raised to the rafters when it is all said and done.
For now, it is in everyone’s best interest to just make the most of their remaining time together, however long—or short that may be.