Cavs coach David Blatt didn’t rule out the notion of LeBron James returning to action for Tuesday’s game, notes Marc J. Spears of Yahoo! Sports (Twitter link), but Blatt drew more attention for a comment he made about one of the team’s other stars. Joe Vardon of the Northeast Ohio Media Group pointed out after the Cavs lost in blowout fashion Sunday to the Kings that though the team didn’t have James, Kyrie Irving and Kevin Love were players who’d signed maximum-salary deals who took part in the contest. “Kev’s not a max player yet, is he?” Blatt rejoined. It’s true that Love signed for four years instead of five when he inked his extension in 2012, and that he isn’t yet eligible for the NBA’s 35% max that’s reserved for veterans of 10 seasons or more, but he’s making the maximum salary allowable this season for a player of his experience. Blatt might not have meant to insult the power forward, but it’s a rookie mistake for the first-year NBA head coach, as USA Today’s Adi Joseph writes, particularly with Love possessing the ability to opt out and hit free agency this summer. There’s more on that amid the latest on the tumult in Cleveland:
- Executives around the league maintain belief that there’s a decent chance Love will leave Cleveland this summer, as Jason Lloyd of the Akron Beacon Journal writes within his mailbag column. Love is expected to opt out, and it’s unlikely he signs a long-term deal, since a one-year contract would set him up for free agency in 2016, when executives reportedly assume the salary cap will surge to around $90MM, Lloyd writes. However, that’s not cause for the Cavs to panic, given Love’s continued insistence that he envisions a long-term future in Cleveland, Lloyd says in a separate piece.
- Blatt should have known better than to tweak Love with his comment, given the sensitivity Love showed when former Timberwolves GM David Kahn refused to give him a fifth year on his extension, SB Nation’s Tom Ziller opines.
- LeBron is ecstatic about Cleveland’s trade for Timofey Mozgov, a source tells Vardon for the above-linked piece.