While the team hasn’t issued a formal update on Love’s recovery timeline, the veteran power forward had a consultation with Dr. Martin O’Malley in New York on Monday, Vardon notes. Scans on his foot during that consultation came up clean, and he’s expected to begin ramping up his workouts in about three or four weeks.
Once Love gets healthy, the Cavaliers will face a series of decisions related to how to handle his playing time and whether to consider trading him. As Vardon details, the Cavs and Love entered the season hoping to be competitive, but his absence has helped cement the team’s place in the lottery so far.
Cleveland intends to have Love reclaim regular minutes when he returns, and he wants to play, per Vardon, but the equation won’t be that simple. A healthy and effective Love may compromise the Cavs’ odds of landing a top 2019 draft pick, so management will have to find the right balance between its short- and long-term goals.
For his part, head coach Larry Drew expects the Cavs to improve significantly with Love back on the floor.
“I think we’ll be a lot better,” Drew said, per Vardon. “Kevin has been our go-to guy, and we haven’t had that all season long. … And then Kevin gives us, not taking anything away from our other big guys, but he’s our No. 1 post priority and we haven’t had that all year. That makes it tough. With a healthy Kevin Love in our lineup, we’re a much better basketball team.”
If they really want to bottom out to finish the 2018/19 season, the Cavs could consider trading Love, but team officials tell Vardon that there has been no discussion of that scenario so far. The club still envisions Love and young point guard Collin Sexton as foundational pieces and wants to see them play together. Plus, executives around the NBA believe that the 30-year-old’s injury history and his new contract, which runs through 2022/23, would diminish his value on the trade market anyway.
We’re still more than two months away from this season’s February 7 trade deadline, so there will be time for Love to return and show he’s healthy before then, and time for the Cavs to reconsider their stance if they so choose. For now though, it appears the team intends to keep the five-time All-Star in their long-term plans.