Dribbles: Time for Cavs to Sit Moping Love Until Trade is Found

Sam Amico

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.

Comments (6)
No. 1-6
Koepka
Koepka

They definitely did lie about the rebuild. The coaches are obviously told who to play and start and who to showcase for a future trade. They knew Sexton wasn't going to be able to run a team last year and that mistake needs to be admitted and moved for a potential future starter not at the expense of the team and winning/learning. Tanking is much harder now without the knowledge that the worst record assures you of the top pick. Cavs will never get the top pick 3 years in a row and use on best player available until you get it right ala the 3 centers of the Process. Second problem for management is the amount of bad contracts we had on this team due to Rich Pauls skills as an agent and or fulfilling Lebrons wishes that landed us a championship. We had alot of the worst contracts to get rid of and we traded for a few more last year and signed Love to another one. To assume the other GMs dont know our situation and that were going to win every trade on paper to get out of this mess is crazy. TT and Love could have been moved by now and they both probably know it . Now if he can get something out of the other 4 expiring deals thats where the success of the project will come. Cant be lookiing for veteran leadership or quality bench until until thay have something to lead. 15 guys needing playing time for one of the above reasons last year cant happen. 4 point gaurds and 5 centers that need playing time and no wings isnt a rebuild yet. This year 5 point gaurds currently and 13 guys who need playing time with limited wings and no defense isnt a rebuild. Who knows what well be left with after this deadline but im pretty sure its not going to be a 2 deep with potential without horrendous contracts. This is much better to watch than the last post Lebron rebuild as i've said before. Maybe Love and the others should be punished or sent to Utah whichever is worse, most would consider Cleveland without a playoff being punished Im sure, just put egoes aside and get 10 guys who will play defense and/ or the proper way and maybe next year at this time focus on team building and potential

gjguest
gjguest

Sending Love home like JR is exactly what I said last night while watching the baby throw a fit on the court. Love should be used to playing with guys that don't share the ball. He played with LeBron and Kyrie. Sexton is annoying sometimes but at least he doesn't quit and he scores the ball. I do see some progress with him as a passer. Lets remember that he is not the point guard any more. He is supposed to score. And score he does. John Beilein should not have to babysit Love. He knew what he was getting into when he signed his big contract. Either grow up or get out.

gjguest
gjguest

I am glad you are not writing for the Athletic. They are always behind these reports from Sources. Just throwing out stuff to get you to read their article or pay for their website. I did see a tweet from another Cavs player that said "that stuff with Love yelling" happens all the time. Nothing unusual there. Someone just grabbed that and ran with it.

OVERIT
OVERIT

All the Cavs beat writers need to stop carrying water for Altman and company. There is zero rhyme or reason to their strategy. Beilin complains all the the time about the lack of lenght when playing the Celtics,Sixers etc...but Alfonzo McKinnie is parked at the end of the bench. Complains about the turnovers (which comes primarily from the guards) but seasoned Brandon Knight is parked right next to Mckinnie. Cavs have the capability to be better but are hamstrung by the incompetence of the front office. Call a spade a spade Joe Vardon, Chris Fedor and Sam Amico. But, you guys won't..because where else would you get your "anonymous sources".

asj1219
asj1219

"this time, Love is mostly to blame." Really? Let's see, who signed Love to the $120MM extension with promises to be competitive & feature him? Uh, that would be Altman. Did he sign Love because of his defensive prowess? Nope. We might assume it was because he is a good shooter, rebounder & passer, a player than does not demand 25 shots/game & generally gets along with other players & the community. So, again, we can assume Altman sold Love on a vision of retooling around him. Who selected 6' guards with Top 10 picks during the most recent 2 drafts? Yep, you guessed it, Altman. Who signed an elder college coach with zero NBA experience & apparently did not explain his previous commitments to Love to the elder rookie coach? Altman, no doubt. Who misread the market for JR's expiring contract last year & in the process unnecessarily tainted the situation with one of the key players from the 2016 championship? I'm thinking Altman. Who sold low on Clarkson last month by helping his friend with another team? Ding, ding, ding ... Altman. Thus, the brilliant deductive reasoning by Amico is to tell readers "Love is mostly to blame." Pitiful. I do not condone Love's repeated displays of frustration. He knows better. But, a coach has two methods for getting his/her point across: playing time & utilization. A player & his/her agent can present issues to coach & GM behind the scenes. If a mutually beneficial solution is not reached & a stalemate lingers, the player's & his/her agent's last viable option is to "go public" in some form or another to try to up the ante. This situation with Love is only going to get worse if he is not traded soon. Then TT will be next. TT has also been visibily frustrated for quite some time. An extension will not make that go away in the future.

Jafam
Jafam
  1. Think how humiliating, how embarrassing it would be to be Kevin Love now. The date that no one seems to want, the player whose less than team-first "teammates" appear to be shunning.

  2. Think how the Cavs front office apparently over-paid him. How the coaching staff appears unable to get their players to integrate him into the game, to their mutual benefit. How the end point of all this is that they are said to be faced with basically giving him away.

And then ask yourself what player with a decent attitude wd ever want to come to Cleveland. Where the front office screws up by paying too much and then embarrasses you by not closing down the endless trade talk, where the coaching staff can't control its players or build a decent culture, where you consequently might not be able to develop or showcase your abilities. And ask yourself why anyone wd want to be a fan of an organization that seems to burn money as well as trade and draft capital by their bad judgment. Compare this story to how coach John Lucas laid the foundation for the trade of Andre Miller by coaching him up and speaking of him favorably.

There is no reason to give Love away and no management actually capable of building a good team and a good organization would do so. They may or may not have screwed up his contract, but they should eat their own cooking. Under normal circumstances no one is un-tradable, but the Cavs have messed this up to the degree that Kev is the exception. The Cavs should publicly and lastingly disavow trading him and then stand by it.


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