Did buying out Kevin Love affect the Cleveland Cavaliers’ morale?
The Cleveland Cavaliers are officially 0-1 as a team after buying out Kevin Love’s contract. The Cavs fell to the Denver Nuggets on Thursday night in their first game back from the All-Star break and the bench was predictably bad as a whole. There were some good plays and the hustle and effort by Caris LeVert were great, but the lack of a scoring threat is hurting the Cavs.
The Cavs made the decision to remove Love from the rotation due to concerns about his defense, something J.B. Bickerstaff has seemingly had an issue with dating back to last season. This is despite Love being a better defensive player statistically over the likes of Caris LeVert.
While we know about the impact that letting Love go has had on the team’s offense, what isn’t talked about enough is the impact his departure will have on team morale and it seems to have one player hard in particular.
Donovan Mitchell was not happy that Kevin Love was bought out by the Cleveland Cavaliers
Mitchell told Cleveland media (via Cleveland.com) that he was shocked when he found out Love was bought out, saying;
"I was shocked. I didn’t know that was in the works. I didn’t know that it would be my last game seeing him. I grew up watching Kevin Love and I’m thankful because he is a guy that allowed me to come in and ask him a thousand questions, helped me be an integral part of this team, and helped with this group."
Veteran swingman Danny Green, who just joined the team, echoed a similar shock;
"I was like, ‘Damn!’ I got a chance to be his teammate for a couple days. It’s crazy because me and Kevin go back. I actually had him as a recruit at (North) Carolina. We haven’t gotten a chance to be teammates over like 20 years now. I was looking forward to actually being his teammate for a little bit — even though he was not playing."
To make matters worse, there appears to be some animosity between Love and head coach J.B. Bickerstaff. While Bickerstaff claims it wasn’t personal, saying all the “right” things about Love, he also acknowledged that Love hasn’t spoken to Bickerstaff since Love was last with the Cavs in Philadelphia.
This is despite Bickerstaff reaching out.
It’s very clear that Bickerstaff made a move that is controversial among not only the fanbase and the team, and it’s fair to say that if Bickerstaff sees an early playoff exit due to a lack of punching power off the bench, it’s very likely he may be done as the team’s head coach after this season.