WEDNESDAY, 9:52pm: Love underwent successful surgery this afternoon to repair his dislocated left shoulder, the Cavaliers announced. The estimated recovery time for Love will be four to six months.
TUESDAY, 11:09am: Kevin Love is “highly unlikely” to return at any point in the postseason, Cavs GM David Griffin said today, as Dave McMenamin of ESPN.com tweets. The damage to his injured left shoulder was extensive, and surgery is an option, Griffin added, according to Sam Amico of Fox Sports Ohio (on Twitter). It’s a devastating blow for the Cavs and for Love, who can opt out of his contract this summer. The team can’t sign a player to replace him for the postseason, since the last day of the regular season was the final day for signings. Griffin added that there’s no possibility that Anderson Varejao, who tore his Achilles tendon in December, will come back during the playoffs to offset the loss of Love, tweets Chris Haynes of the Northeast Ohio Media Group.
The injury occurred when Kelly Olynyk hooked Love’s arm as they chased a loose ball in Sunday’s Game 4 of Cleveland’s first round series against the Celtics. In layman’s terms, Love suffered a shoulder dislocation, torn ligaments and a torn labrum, writes Jason Lloyd of the Akron Beacon Journal. It threw not only the postseason but the long-term future into flux, as Love went from a growing affection for Boston as a possible free agent destination to a “legitimate loathing” of the Celtics on Sunday, as Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! Sports wrote. Love called Olynyk’s move a “bush-league play” as the All-Star power forward spoke to reporters shortly after the game Sunday.
Love said in January that he planned to opt in and take his $16.744MM salary for next season, but teams that have looked into the possibility of signing him have been convinced that he’ll “minimally explore” the market, according to Wojnarowski. Some executives are reportedly questioning whether the Cavs would give Love a max deal, with a starting salary of an estimated $19MM, if he were to opt out. Love would nonetheless be at the forefront of the Lakers’ plans if he became available, as Bleacher Report’s Kevin Ding wrote, and surely others would value Love highly even though he’s coming off a down season in which he failed to mesh with the Cavaliers on the court.
The injury complicates the future for the Jeff Schwartz client, and it would seemingly be even more troublesome if it requires surgery. It would probably make it a safer bet that Love would opt in and give himself a chance to hit free agency at full health next year, when the salary cap is projected to jump to $89MM, though that’s just my speculation.