Kevin Love and LeBron James were like oil and water. Yeah, they have that iconic photo when the team won the championship in 2016, but that is about it. Reports surfaced that Love came to training camp the first year LeBron was back out of shape and LeBron had an issue with it.
From there, it never seemed to click.
Between LeBron James, Kyrie Irving and Kevin Love, the fact that it is Love who not only lasted the longest in Cleveland but signed an extension here is incredible. He literally lived on the trade block from the beginning of his time in The Land up until he signed this extension on Tuesday.
Love admitted to struggling with mental health issues, something that is commendable, especially for someone in the public eye. Now, I am not Love’s therapist because if I was this would be illegal, but it is my belief that a lot of Love’s problems stemmed from his relationship with LeBron James and the pressure to always be great every night and deep into the playoffs.
We saw in the NBA Finals how Love struggled to find any type of consistent success over the years.
Ironically, LeBron, from Akron, Ohio, is in Los Angeles and Love, who went to UCLA, has committed to Cleveland. But I am convinced that a weight is off Love’s shoulders now that he doesn’t have to play with LeBron.
Last year, Love averaged 17.6 PPG and 9.3 RPG in only 59 games played due to injury. However, if you look back to his time in Minnesota, he once averaged 26 or more points a night in two separate seasons. That was when he was the star of the show.
Thus, in theory, Love’s numbers should be better this year now that it is time to shine. He is truly the number one option along with rookie Collin Sexton and other guys like Rodney Hood.
The question now becomes what direction are the Cavs heading?
When LeBron left, most Cavs fans were expecting a tank-job, but this Love signing says the opposite. The problem is the next two years the Cavs’ pick is top-10 protected and Atlanta will receive it if the Cavs finish above the bottom 10 in either of the next two years. Thus, the Cavs may not have a pick next year and will have to bite the bullet.
But is tanking always the answer?
If LeBron didn’t come back to Cleveland, even with all the Cavs top selections, they still would be bad to this day. Rebuilds like Philly and Boston got lucky they hit on their picks and they still haven’t won anything. Executing a perfect rebuild is very difficult especially if you don’t play in a sexy location like Los Angeles.
So the Cavs are just going to put out the best team possible, sans LeBron, and try and win as much as they can. Hey, it’ll keep the team interesting at least. It’s not like anyone is beating Golden State this year anyway.
Best of the luck to Kevin. Congrats on the new contract and I hope you are feeling good mentally.