Dribbles: At This Point, Exploring Love Trade Makes Sense for Cavs

Sam Amico

Random dribbles following the Cavaliers' 141-94 embarrassment of a road loss to the Philadelphia 76ers on Saturday.

1. If you're reading this, you must really love the Cavaliers.

2. There isn't much to take away from this game. Other than maybe this -- the Sixers once sat in the same muck that the Cavs are navigating today. And the Sixers don't look so bad now, right? They just won by 47 points without Joel Embiid and are a true Eastern Conference contender.

3. That may be why 76ers coach Brett Brown hugged the Cavs' John Beilein after the game. Brown offered some words of encouragement. 

4. Brown is a survivor. He went through The Process and came out on the other side. That's when the 76ers were tanking under former general manager Sam Hinkie. During that stretch, Brown won a total of 47 games over three seasons.

5. Teams have won 47 games in one season and not made the playoffs. Again, it took those Sixers three seasons to hit 47. So Brown knows the unforgiving road Beilein is facing.

6. Along with Embiid, the Sixers now feature the likes of Ben Simmons, Tobias Harris, Josh Richardson and Al Horford. Embiid and Richardson missed Saturday's game with injuries. And the Cavs still got blasted. Yikes. Either way, the Sixers boast an impressive starting five.

7. Keep in mind that tanking year after year wasn't the lone reason the Sixers got to where they are today. Embiid and Simmons are the only proven players acquired in Sixers drafts. Harris and Richardson arrived via trades. Horford signed in free agency after Philadelphia became an enticing place to play.

8. The Sixers also had some big lottery misses in Nerlens Noel and Jahlil Okafor. So Hinkie's plan didn't work to perfection. The draft is an inexact science. That is why the Cavs don't want to get too caught up in just stockpiling lottery picks.

9. Current Sixers GM Elton Brand has taken a much wiser approach to building a team. Yes, he values the draft. But he knows trades are how you get those second-tier and borderline All-Stars to enhance the roster (Jimmy Butler, Harris, and so on). That speeds up the so-called process. It helps you win some games and keeps fans interested.

10. Right now, again, the Cavs are where the Sixers used to be. After a start that made the fans proud, these Cavs have become unwatchable. 

11. You have to remember that this is just basketball, but it is also big business. The more you lose on the floor, the more you tend to lose in the bank account. You don't want to lose too much, in either place, for too long.

12. Yes, you need patience. No, you can't judge everything on one terrible stretch -- in which the Cavs (5-17) have lost 12 of 13. But they have been blown out way too much lately. 

13. No need to keep rehashing the report about some players being unhappy with Beilein. Many of the Cavs stood strongly behind their coach Friday. It turned out to be a tale of two or three Cavs not liking the way things are going and refusing to take responsibility. They blamed the boss instead. Let's be honest, that happens in every line of work.

13. So we can ignore the Beilein stuff. But I do think we should talk about the ESPN report that said the Cavs are ready to accept trade offers for Kevin Love. That makes sense. If you're going to get hammered anyway, what's the point of keeping him?

14. Love is 31 years old. With the way things are going, the Cavs won't be good again for another three years, two if they're lucky. It might actually take four or five. Love has trouble staying healthy at this age. What will be it be like when he's 34 and has been subjected to another three years of 82-game seasons?

15. Basically, it's fair to ask if Love will still be effective when the Cavs are ready to challenge again. He may be, but I have my doubts.

16. According to the ESPN report, there are plenty of playoff contenders eyeing Love. Boston, Portland and Denver were specifically mentioned as opponents with interest. Those teams and more might be willing to trade some young players with upside for a veteran who could help them win right away.

17. I'm not implying the Cavs should ship out Love by any means necessary. And I highly doubt Cavs GM Koby Altman is sitting in his office and thinking, "Well, I'd better wait to hear from Amico." 

18. But I know what I would do if I were GM, and it wouldn't involve waiting for others to call me. Instead, I'd be the one picking up the phone, sending out some texts, and seeing what's out there. The players who signed free agent contracts over the summer are eligible to be traded Dec. 15. That's a week from today. I would get busy and be proactive.

19. Most fans and the organization are OK with losing for the time being. It sure seems that way anyway. What everyone wants, including Beilein, is a team that plays smart, shows potential and has some fight.

20. The Cavs displayed all of those things through the first nine games, with Love and Tristan Thompson leading the way. Thompson is still really getting after it. Lately, Love has left himself open to questioning. It could be injuries. It could be illness. It could be all the losing and mistakes by the younger players are wearing on him. But he hasn't looked the same.

21. I've written too much already. We will have plenty more time for this, because the games themselves sure aren't offering much to write/read about. But if you're feeling especially adventurous, check out the recap and box score here.

22. Just know that Love took just seven shots, made two, and finished with six points and seven rebounds. It's been an ongoing theme -- Love doesn't get enough touches. It's happened every season. But you can't keep blaming the schemes, the coaches or the other Cavs. Some of it has to fall on the man himself.

23. Darius Garland finished with 17 points and Thompson scored 12. Other than that, this was just a discombobulated mess.

24. Next up: The Cavs visit Boston on Monday. Hopefully for their sake, they use the day off to find some resolve. Otherwise, it will just be more of the same.

Comments (6)
No. 1-3

I don't disagree w your premise, but draw a different conclusion. To be sure, I know far less than you & haven't spent any real time thinking about the argument you make. But I am fairly confident things can always get worse, and could easily see trading Kevin, or both Kevin & Tristan, as resulting in a really lasting, negative culture from which it wd be hard for the team to emerge. I also really like the idea of what Beilein is trying to do and I can't imagine that working out if the culture were to turn so negative and if the players were to be so disproportionately young.

I agree, as per #15 above, that they may not be big contributors when the Cavs are next good, but don't see that as particularly important. Instead, I think the point is to build a foundation for a very good team over the next few years and believe that keeping the two of them is important to that happening. I think their productivity can improve over the course of the year, that they can help the team's performance, and that they are better for our near- and long-term future than the draft choices or younger players we would likely receive. As a general postulate, I think sucking a little for a given number of years is fine & can be conducive to long-term success while pursuing a plan that involves sucking hugely for more than a year seems fraught and exceedingly dangerous.

Hanging with Rich
Hanging with Rich

I have no problem trading Love. I just think it would be hard to do given his contact. His career seems to be on a downward trend. In addition to matching salaries, we would need to get a cornerstone young player in return.


I would listen to Love trade offers. I would only do it with a decent package of players with upside and some picks. Would Denver give us Michael Porter? I know he had been injured, but he has huge upside. Does Boston have any decent draft picks left? Would the Lakers be interested at all? Kuzma might be a nice pickup. Call Portland. They just lost Hood. Just speculating just like everyone else, but I think that there are some nice packages available. I think because realistically the NBA is wide open this year. There is no Golden State with Durant in anyone's way. Love would be a good get.