Dribbles: Time for Cavs to Sit Moping Love Until Trade is Found
CLEVELAND -- Random dribbles following the Cavaliers' defenseless 121-106 home loss to the Oklahoma City Thunder on Saturday.
1. What's the point? That's what I've started to ask myself about Kevin Love and the Cavs. What is the point in playing Love? He looks like a man who wants to be traded. From everything we've heard, the Cavs are open to trading him. So why is he still out there?
2. When it comes to Love, the trade rumors and reports never end. They started about the same time he arrived in Cleveland in 2014. Almost none of it was Love's fault. But the noise has grown louder lately -- and this time, Love is mostly to blame.
3. Now comes another report from The Athletic. It stated Love blew up at Cavs GM Koby Altman after shootaround Saturday morning. Love expressed frustration and apparently shouted at Altman in front of his teammates and the coaching staff.
4. Reports such as this are sourced by someone who wants the information out there. My guess is it ain't Altman or the front office. It sure isn't Cavs coach John Beilein. It's not likely the team's public relations or marketing arms, who are tasked with putting a positive spin on everything. So who could it be?
5. Then came the actual game, when Love openly pouted on the court. It happened at the end of the first half. Cavs point guard Collin Sexton followed the instructions of his coach and dribbled time off the clock. Love was stationed near the free-throw line, calling for the ball. But getting the ball to Love wasn't the play.
6. Love eventually did get the ball, snapped a pass to Cedi Osman, then stormed away. As an aside, Osman was fouled while taking a 3-pointer after receiving the pass from Love. The play worked out for the Cavs. Just not for Love.
7. After the game, Beilein took the blame. "That was my mistake," he said. "I wanted us to get the last shot. (Love) had Chris Paul posted up. I didn't see it."
8. Love also addressed the sequence. "We were in the bonus and Chris Paul was on me," he said. "I thought we should swing it. ... Yeah, I was frustrated."
9. Frustrated is one thing. Showing that frustration is OK, too. Stomping away like an angry child in front of your bench is something else entirely.
10. Altman and the Cavaliers signed Love to a four-year, $120 million extension before the start of last season. At the time, the Cavs may have told Love they intended to try to compete -- that they wouldn't "tank" or focus solely on the rebuild. But only the Cavs and Love really know what was said.
11. At least part of the reason Love was offered the extension is because the Cavs wanted him to be a leader. They believed he could guide the team into the next phase. They figured he could be a rock when situations got sticky, acting as the voice of reason and maturity when things were at their worst.
12. Love started off strong, but lately, he has failed the team.
13. He also is acting surprised that the Cavs are struggling while starting a second-year guard in Sexton and rookie guard in Darius Garland. He is acting like he expects the young guys to know the pro game as well as he does. Some might even say that lately, he is acting like an entitled brat.
14. Those are the reasons I keep asking why the Cavs are still bothering with Love. Forget fining him. Forget suspending him. Last year, they decided to keep J.R. Smith away from the team until they could work out a trade. It's time to do the same here.
15. And why are the Cavs handling the Love situation differently than the one with Smith? Is Love still helping them win? They're 10-25. Is he a positive voice in the locker room, setting an example for others on the court? I think we know the answers.
16. Plus, with Love's injury history, there's no telling what might happen next. Last thing the Cavs want to do is be saddled with his contract for another year because he hurt, say, his big toe.
17. Love is a decent guy. He is just handling his frustration in a way that doesn't benefit the organization or himself. He is hurting his team and his image. At 31 years old, he should know better.
18. The Cavs need to know better, too. Beilein said Love has been "playing well lately," mentioning Love's averages of 19 points and 10 rebounds over the last six games. That may be true. But Love is no longer part of the future, immediate or otherwise. So send him home, find a trade and move on.
19. It's unrealistic to think that the Cavs will get much in return for Love. Opposing executives are understandably concerned with his injury history and contract. His recent tantrums aren't going to help matters. This is where Altman will have to be resilient, work the phones and play some hardball.
20. This won't be the first time. Altman was in a similar spot with Kyrie Irving in 2017. Difference is, Altman was in his first few weeks on the job then. It was also the offseason and Irving requested a trade. Love has not, as far as anyone knows. But the passive-aggressive hints may actually be worse.
21. As for the game, Sexton scored 30 points and Garland finished with 20 and seven assists. The talent is there. It just needs to be nurtured and shaped. That is why the Cavs rely so heavily on veterans such as Love.
22. You can read more about the game in the recap on SI.com: Frustration evident as Love, Cavs fall to Thunder.
23. Next up: The Cavs are back at it Sunday vs. Minnesota in a rare home back-to-back. Love missed last week's game against his former team. The Cavs won anyway.
- BOX SCORE: Thunder 121, Cavaliers 106