The start of the NBA season is just over one week away, with the Celtics and Hornets competing in the first preseason game Friday, Sept. 28. Odds once again favor the Warriors to win it all, while Boston has the second-best title odds.
Though Golden State is a heavy favorite, last season proved even the league’s best are vulnerable. With LeBron heading to L.A., the already-loaded West has become a verifiable murderer’s row.
Get excited – the race for the Larry O’Brien Trophy begins soon. Here are 10 players with a lot to prove in the 2018-19 season.
10. John Wall, Wizards
Last season was a rough one for John Wall. After signing a $170 million extension with the Wizards, he missed two months (from late January-March) with a hand injury. He never seemed to find a real rhythm. During the season, he was criticized for being out of shape, and tempers in Washington’s locker room boiled over. Wall said the team was “not having fun right now.” The dynamics with Wall and Bradley Beal seem to be unpredictable – good today, bad tomorrow. No one questions Wall’s talent, and he’s been electric in the postseason – but this season, he needs to prove he can lead a team for a full season and be the central figure (the leader!) on a roster that actually gets along.
Kevin Love has received an overwhelming amount of positive feedback since he opened up about his struggles with mental health in a piece he wrote for The Players’ Tribune back in March, and the reaction has inspired him to start a new foundation.
On Monday, Love announced the launch of the Kevin Love Fund, which will partner with several mental health organizations. He spoke about the new venture in an appearance on the “TODAY” show.
“It’s going to empower people to really work on their physical, but also their mental well-being because we know that’s so huge,” Love said. “It’s really a special time. We’re beating down the stigma as much as we can.”
We have seen more and more star athletes opening up about their battles with mental health issues, so it’s no surprise Love has received so much support. The cause is obviously one that is very important to him, and starting a foundation will be a good way to help more people than he already has.
LeBron James may have paved the way for Kevin Love to sign a massive contract extension when he decided to leave Cleveland for a second time, and the new Los Angeles Lakers star is looking to get a little something out of it.
Love signed a four-year, $120 million extension with the Cavs on Tuesday, and LeBron took to Twitter to congratulate him. He also wants Love to buy him dinner next time the two get together.
LeBron’s career earnings will obviously dwarf Love’s when you factor in endorsements and other revenue streams, so perhaps they can split the bill when the Cavs visit L.A. next season.
There were various reports of tension between Love and LeBron throughout their time as teammates in Cleveland, but a lot of them were overblown. Now that both star players have secured new long-term contracts this offseason, you can’t blame them for wanting to celebrate.
The Cleveland Cavaliers said goodbye to LeBron James this offseason for the second time in four years, and there has been some talk that Kevin Love could be the next to leave town. It does not seem like that is the team’s plan — at least for now.
ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski and Brian Windhorst report that the Cavs have signed Love to a four-year, $120 million extension.
The new contract is somewhat surprising, as many expected the Cavs to either trade Love or the star forward to aim for a big year statistically before heading into free agency next summer. Love has already won a championship, however, so it makes sense that he is opting for financial security.
Love still could be traded at some point, but that has seemed like a longshot all along. The four-year extension indicates the Cavs want him to become the face of their franchise rather than getting rid of everyone and starting over.
Kevin Love sounds pretty thrilled to be reunited with Channing Frye.
On Saturday, the veteran big man Frye agreed to a one-year, $2.4 million deal to return to the Cleveland Cavaliers, per Shams Charania of Yahoo! Sports.
Love reacted to the news with a hilarious Instagram post. He posted a meme of LeBron James’ iconic Sports Illustrated “I’m Coming Home” letter with Frye’s head Photoshopped onto it instead. The meme also described Frye as “Kevin Love’s BFF and NBA champ.”
Love and Frye were teammates in Cleveland for three seasons and won the NBA title together in 2016. The latter was then shipped to the Los Angeles Lakers at the trade deadline last February as part of the Isaiah Thomas deal.
Now the two big men will be entering their fourth season as teammates on the Cavs, provided that the team does not decide to trade Love before then (which seems unlikely based on this most recent report).
The Cleveland Cavaliers are reportedly open to trading Kevin Love now that LeBron James is signing with the Los Angeles Lakers, but teams that are thinking about low-balling them with a trade offer probably shouldn’t waste their time.
Terry Pluto of the Cleveland Plain Dealer spoke with a well-known NBA executive who questioned how motivated the Cavs are to part ways with the player who is now their biggest star.
“Unless they get blown away by an offer, I think they’ll open the season with Love,” the executive said.
Love is entering the final year of his contract, and he’s set to make $24 million. He also has a player option worth $25.6 million for the following season, but he seems unlikely to exercise it. According to the exec Pluto spoke with, the Cavs know they should be able to get more for Love if they wait until the trade deadline next season.
“Because I think he’ll be more in demand during the season by the trading deadline,” the executive said. “Kevin could have a very good year for the Cavs being the focal point of the offense. He is a talented player.”
Love was an All-Star last season and averaged 17.6 points and 9.0 rebounds per game. His scoring in Cleveland has never been anywhere close to the 26.1 points he averaged in his final season with the Minnesota Timberwolves, and Love could boost his stock a ton if he puts up big numbers with LeBron gone. He’ll only turn 30 this offseason, so he should have an opportunity to sign one more max contract.
The Cavs are making an effort to convince teams they are not looking to deal Love, and that could be more about timing than anything. They don’t want to look like they’re blowing everything up and starting from scratch now that LeBron left, as that would weaken their stance in trade talks. Even if they don’t plan on keeping Love through next season, denying that he is for sale makes sense from a business standpoint.
Despite their insistence otherwise, the Cleveland Cavaliers are reportedly willing to trade Kevin Love if the right deal comes their way.
According to Jason Lloyd of the Athletic, league sources indicate that the Cavaliers are “open” to moving Love despite the organization’s public insistence that he will stay to be part of an effort to remain in contention.
It would make sense for the Cavaliers to try to move Love. With LeBron James gone, they’re no longer a title contender. Moreover, the Cavaliers’ first-round selection next season is top-ten protected and will go to the Atlanta Hawks otherwise. The Cavaliers have some incentive to be bad in order to keep that pick.
Team sources have repeatedly denied that Love would be shopped if James left. That may be just posturing, especially if they can get a good deal for him.
It does not sound like you should expect to see a massive rebuild if LeBron James leaves the Cleveland Cavaliers this summer.
According to Joe Vardon of Cleveland.com, the Cavaliers have no plans to trade forward Kevin Love even if James departs via free agency. Cleveland would instead prefer to keep Love and try to build a playoff team without James instead of tearing it all down and starting over.
“There is no reason to go backwards,” one source said of the Cavaliers moving forward without James.
In fact, Love’s best shot of remaining in Cleveland may be if James leaves. A source added that nobody on the roster would be untouchable in a scenario in which James returns, as the Cavaliers would look for opportunities to add veteran talent around him. Otherwise, a James departure would likely mean a team built around Love and rookie Collin Sexton, and would also give them the financial room to maneuver and bring in some new supplementary pieces.
Love has voiced a desire to remain in Cleveland despite the constant trade rumors that surround him. It sounds as though he may get his wish.
Kevin Love’s Cleveland Cavaliers career hasn’t always been rosy, but he doesn’t want it to end just yet.
Love said that if it’s up to him, he’d like to remain in Cleveland, though he knows the trade rumors are about to ramp up yet again.
“Anything is possible,” Love said, via Matthew Florjancic of WYKC. “People have been saying that for the past four years. I knew that question would come, but I like to be here. I’ve always said that. Always wanted to win here.”
Love admitted that he’d prefer to be joined by LeBron James, but understands that’s a decision yet to be made.
“It’s something where I’m sure he will spend time with his family and when that times comes to make a decision, he will be in a good frame of mind,” Love said. “Obviously, I’d love to play with LeBron the rest of my career, but that will be a choice that he makes.”
Love may not get his wish. Reports indicate that the Cavaliers would be prepared to blow it all up if James leaves Cleveland this summer.
Tristan Thompson may be facing disciplinary action from the NBA for the scuffle he was involved in late in Game 1 of the NBA Finals, but Kevin Love is confident the same will not be true for him.
Thompson was ejected with 2.6 seconds remaining in the game when he threw an elbow into Warriors guard Shaun Livingston, who was attempting a meaningless jump-shot. As Thompson was leaving the court, he shoved Draymond Green and a scrum broke out.
During that shoving match, Love was seen walking onto the court. Leaving the bench area during a fight is supposed to trigger an automatic suspension in the NBA, but Love insists he was already on the court trying to get the officials’ attention before the scuffle began. This video seems to support his claim:
As soon as Thompson threw the first shove, Love turned around and headed back to the bench area. He shouldn’t have been on the court in the first place, but walking out to get a referee’s attention doesn’t result in an automatic suspension like walking out during a fight does.
Thompson should probably be more worried about being suspended than Love. The Cavaliers big man had already been ejected before he took part in the extracurricular activities, so the NBA will have to determine if he left the court in a timely fashion. Plus, his explanation for why he was so upset may not hold a lot of weight.