The relationship between Kevin Love and his Cleveland Cavaliers teammates may be nearing a breaking point, and Love tried to address some of the negative energy surrounding the team when he spoke with reporters on Tuesday.
A report from ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski claimed the Cavs held an “emotional meeting” on Monday where players questioned the legitimacy of the illness that kept Love out of most of the team’s blowout loss to the Oklahoma City Thunder over the weekend. On Tuesday, Love said he felt the meeting was about more than just him and that he would have preferred if the details of it remained in-house.
Love was reportedly the first player off the Cavs’ team bus on Tuesday and walked onto the court alone. Going forward, he said his only goal is helping Cleveland win games.
LeBron James was also asked about the meeting, but he simply said he does not want to talk about it.
Love’s usage rate has been down since Isaiah Thomas returned, and he has been terrible in the month of January. After he averaged 22.2 points, 10.1 rebounds and 29.7 minutes per game in December, his numbers are down to 12.3 points, 6.3 rebounds and 23.9 minutes this month.
It seemed like Love was being used as a scapegoat for some of Cleveland’s early struggles when LeBron first returned, but a lot of that went away after the Cavs won the title. Now that they have lost nine of their last 12 games, Love seems to be taking the hit again. Meanwhile, LeBron has no problem congratulating himself on personal accomplishments as rumors of dysfunction swirl.
The Cleveland Cavaliers did not play on Monday, but they reportedly had some big business to discuss.
ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski reports that the Cavaliers held an emotional meeting prior to practice on Monday during which the legitimacy of Kevin Love’s illness was questioned.
Woj says Love tried to explain his side.
Love started and played just three minutes during Saturday’s embarrassing loss to the Thunder in which the Cavs allowed 148 points. He took two shots and missed both of them.
Love was said to have had an illness, which led him to leave the game. He did not practice with the team on Sunday.
On Monday, Love did tell reporters that he felt dizzy on Saturday and that he is now feeling better. He is set to play on Tuesday.
The 29-year-old forward has struggled to find his way in the offense since Isaiah Thomas joined the starting lineup. His usage rate is down and his stats have been terrible in January. For the month, he’s averaging just 12.3 points, 6.3 rebounds and 23.9 minutes per game. Compare that to December when he averaged 22.2 points, 10.1 rebounds and 29.7 minutes per game.
When Love first joined the Cavaliers, he had some issues with LeBron James, but that seemed to pass after the Cavs won the title. Now that Thomas is in the mix, Love is trying to find his way on the team, and it clearly has not been easy.
Big men are a dying breed … except when they aren’t. Hail to this era of seven-footers who dribble like guards, jump like pogo sticks, and shoot their shots from deep like drunk texts at 3 AM. And here are the ten bigs leading that charge right now, not counting those who missed the cut due to injury (Rudy Gobert, Blake Griffin, Paul Millsap, Hassan Whiteside, and Nikola Jokic).
*Stats courtesy of Basketball Reference and NBA.com*
10. Kevin Love, PF/C, Cleveland Cavaliers
Love being the Joe Biden to LeBron James’ Obama sure has a nice ring to it. A lot of dominoes did have to fall for our favorite Banana Republic model to even be in this position: Kyrie Irving moving to Boston to flatten dreams, Tristan Thompson getting injured, and Isaiah Thomas and Derrick Rose both being unavailable for one reason or another. But Love has barreled in headfirst through his new window of opportunity, slaughtering defenses with his smoldering three-point shooting from the 5 spot and proving just as effective at smoking smaller players who switch onto him down low. As Cleveland’s undisputed No. 2 option offensively, he is once again a nightly 20-10 threat just like those halcyon Minnesota days. Whether you need a 38-point half or a 94-foot touchdown pass, it’s obvious that my man is a Love supreme.
9. Karl-Anthony Towns, C, Minnesota Timberwolves
Kevin Love broke out on Tuesday night with his best game of the season, and the strong performance had him in a joking mood.
Love had 32 points and 16 rebounds — both season-highs — in the Cavaliers’ 124-119 win over the Milwaukee Bucks Tuesday. The big game was an especially good sign after Love left Sunday’s game early. He scored just four points in 18 minutes in the loss to Atlanta. Love actually went to the hospital briefly after Sunday’s game and reportedly felt ill.
Two days later, Love had his best game and joked about going back to the hospital for good luck.
“I dunno. Whatever they gave me, I might go back. Might check myself in tonight,” Love joked after the game.
Going back to the hospital probably would be a bit much for Love, but his breakout game was an excellent sign. Maybe the Cavs are headed in the right direction after a rough start. They’ll face a tough test on Thursday night at Houston.
Kevin Love and Dwyane Wade have only been teammates for a few weeks, and that was evident when television cameras showed them shaking hands following Tuesday night’s win over the Chicago Bulls.
Wade and LeBron James, who won two championships together with the Miami Heat and are close friends, have their own secret handshake. Love and LeBron have one, too, but Love and D-Wade have some work to do.
Don’t worry, Wade and Love are going to come up with something. Though, based on their reactions, we wouldn’t be surprised if they stuck with the “nice to meet you” shake going forward.
If Wade and Love can come up with a custom handshake of their own in the near future, perhaps Wade will start to feel a little better about his role on a new team. These things take time.
Kevin Love could soon become the center of attention in Cleveland … literally.
Cavs head coach Tyronn Lue said on Saturday that Love could be named the team’s permanent starting center, according to Dave McMenamin of ESPN.
“Spacing opportunities, spacing the floor,” said Lue when asked what he liked about Love as a 5. “Being able to play through the elbows with multiple guys.”
The Cavs usually roll with Tristan Thompson as an undersized center next to Love at the 4. But Love is actually the taller of the two as well as an excellent rebounder in his own right. Sliding him up a position could also create an opening for a defensive-minded wing like Jae Crowder in the starting lineup and/or free up the lane so the Cavs could start say, Derrick Rose and Dwyane Wade in the backcourt (though their rim protection would definitely suffer).
It seems that Lue has increasingly wanted to emphasize Love on offense the deeper he has gotten into his head coaching tenure, and with Kyrie Irving no longer in the picture, this could be an excellent way to do just that.
With all the shuffling in the NBA this offseason, the common sentiment among fans is that all the talent has headed West — with the exception, of course, of Mr. LeBron Raymone James.
Earlier this summer, I swung by the Big3’s tour stop in Charlotte, and the legend Clyde Drexler had this to say: “The West, in my opinion, had the majority of the good players. After all these trades, now they’ve got all the good players. If ‘Bron comes to the West, they might as well do away with the East.”
The West has won five of the past six All-Star Games and three of the past four NBA titles. It’s unquestionably the more competitive conference, and now that Jimmy Butler and Paul George have been traded to Minnesota and Oklahoma City, respectively, it’s also leaps and bounds ahead of the East in star quality.
But really — there is a case to be made that the West has 13 out of the 14 best players in the league. ESPN made that case, and also argued that the West’s second-flight All-Stars are better than the East’s first flight.
That certainly may be true, but the East still has some studs — especially in its top five. As we rev up for the 2017-18 season, below is our ranking of the 20 best players in the NBA’s Eastern Conference.
1. LeBron James, F, Cleveland Cavaliers
What more can I say about LeBron than what’s already been said? He’s the best player in our generation, and he’s unquestionably one of the three best players of all-time. What’s missing from that all-time debate is that James is still only 32, and he hasn’t shown any signs of slowing down.
Is it out of reason to say he could play another 10 years? What if he keeps posting the same numbers for another five years — then is he the G.O.A.T.? That question will be answered in the future, but the point is this: there’s still plenty left to come before we can judge James’ career against that of the other greats.
2. John Wall, G, Washington Wizards
Wall has always had the talent to be one of the best players in the league, but he really put it all together last season. Anyone who saw his vicious charge through the playoffs knows this dude is not to be slept on — Wall will take on anyone in the league. He has that Dion Waiters “I’m the best player on the floor every time I’m on the floor” mentality.
Wall got a monster contract extension this offseason, and it appears he’s entering his prime. Last year he set career marks for points (23.1) and assists (10.7).
Kevin Love is not here whatsoever for any of your lightweight Twitter slander.
Barstool Sports took a shot at the Cleveland Cavaliers big man on Friday, tweeting a video poking fun at his perceived inability to fit in with the team.
For his part, Love wasn’t about to let them bring that weak sauce into his paint and went on to reply thusly:
The “fit out” criticism is a popular and persistent one that has followed Love throughout his time in Cleveland, and he seems to be quite sick of it. Now we can add this epic clapback to his impressive 2017 Twitter highlight reel.
How are the rest of the Cleveland Cavaliers’ Big Three coping with Kyrie Irving’s trade demand?
Naturally, a lot of attention went to Kevin Love and LeBron James after news of Irving’s request was made public. James has been publicly silent on the topic, but Love couldn’t help but respond to the barrage of tweets he was receiving.
Notably, Love uses the phrase “a little peculiar,” which is exactly what Irving said about the state of the Cavaliers earlier in the week.
James, meanwhile, is staying out of this at the moment, though he’s reportedly blindsided by the news. He will probably stay quiet publicly.
It’s shaping up to be a busy offseason in the NBA, with numerous star players set to hit free agency. Others are under contract, but seem set to feature prominently in trade talks for various reasons.
On Wednesday, the talk was all about Chris Paul being dealt to Houston. That could be the first of many major moves to come.
Who will stay? Who will go? Who will be busy actively trying to get these guys? Here is a list of eight NBA stars who may well find themselves with new organizations next season, and what the future may have in store for them.
1) Paul George
At this point, it will probably be an upset if George isn’t moved. He’s told the Indiana Pacers that he’s leaving at the end of next season, and even if that knowledge will bring his trade value down, the Pacers will want to at least get something for him.
A number of teams have registered interest in George, but it doesn’t appear that anything has ever been close. The Boston Celtics tried on draft night, but talks reportedly stalled. Cleveland tried to put together an ambitious package, but their efforts seem to have fallen short as well, at least for the moment.
The Pacers seem to be in little hurry to move George, but their franchise is somewhat hamstrung until his situation is resolved. Expect him to be traded this summer.
2) Gordon Hayward