After six seasons with the Cavaliers, it seems that Kevin Love’s tenure in Cleveland is coming to an end.
Though the team has been reluctant to trade their prized big man recently, it seems almost inevitable that he will be traded before February’s trade deadline. With his frustrations manifesting itself on the court, on social media, and in the locker room, the Cavs’ hand is essentially being forced here.
Less than two hours before, Shams Charania and Joe Vardon of The Athletic reported that Love “had an emotional verbal outburst directed toward general manager Koby Altman” after shootaround that morning and “was screaming in front of teammates and Cavs coaches and front-office members that there was ‘no feel here.'”
The Cavaliers are 10-26, tied with the New York Knicks for the second-worst record in the Eastern Conference.
While it’s been a frustrating 2019-20 season for all involved, this wasn’t the team Love originally agreed to sign an extension with just 18 months ago.
For Love and the Cavs, the extension meant a chance for both sides to hang on to something. For Love, it guaranteed him one last big contract as the face of a franchise and, for the Cavs, it meant keeping Love around with hopes he would return to the player we saw in Minnesota. Neither dream has materialized in the past two seasons.
The extension meant even more financial security for a player with a lengthy injury history, as well a familiar face to put in front of a franchise that was beginning a massive $185 million arena renovation and needed to keep fans engaged following the second loss of James.
While the Cavs’ goal was to compete for the playoffs sans LeBron, it was ironically Love’s broken toe, suffered four games into the 2018-19 season, that ultimately led to a rebuild with the trades of veterans George Hill, Kyle Korver and Rodney Hood. Love missed 60 total games, and the Cavs fell to 19-63 overall.
Of course, the Cavs were always an awkward fit for Love. He was sent to the backburner during the LeBron era and was unfairly asked to lead a roster of young, inexperienced rookies to some semblance of a decent team.
Cleveland is dead last in assist-to-turnover ratio (1.29), and the starting backcourt of Sexton and rookie Darius Garland is averaging a combined 5.5 assists and 4.6 turnovers.
The Cavs system isn’t set up to highlight Love’s strengths, which is hurting both his production and trade value.
There is no mistaking it at this stage: Love has got to go. In an environment where he has clearly overstayed his welcome, his talents would be better suited practically anywhere else.
It’s only a matter of time until his inevitable exit becomes history.