Kevin Love

Tyronn Lue Denies Knowingly Playing Kevin Love Through Injury

FEBRUARY 16, 8:31am: Lue has backtracked on his earlier comments, telling reporters late last night that he misinterpreted a question about Love, Vardon writes in a new piece for Cleveland.com. According to Vardon, Cavs sources reviewed Lue’s comments and told reporters that the head coach misspoke — he was apparently referring to when Love suffered the injury, rather than when he learned about it.

FEBRUARY 15, 8:00pm: Cavaliers coach Tyronn Lue knew Kevin Love was having knee problems when he played in the second night of a back-to-back last week, writes Joe Vardon of Cleveland.com.

Love is expected to be out of action for six weeks after having surgery Tuesday to clean up “loose bodies” in his left knee. After the Cavs played last Wednesday, Lue indicated he would rest Love, LeBron James and Kyrie Irving for the next night’s game, but later changed his mind and played all three.

“It was already [hurt], loose bodies were already in there so he just played through it,” Lue explained to reporters tonight, “and then after it got to a certain point he got the MRI and he found out it was loose bodies floating around.”

The coach added that he didn’t regret his decision to play Love because he “was already heading for surgery.” All three players reportedly told Lue that they wanted to play.

An unidentified team source differed with Lue’s account, telling Vardon that Love banged his knee before Wednesday’s game, but the problem didn’t become fully evident until it swelled on Saturday.

Vardon notes that the incident raises questions about Cleveland’s stated commitment to giving players the proper rest before the playoffs. Lue said he will approach back-to-back situations differently through the rest of the season.

Kevin Love Expected To Miss Six Weeks

Injury issues continue to plague the Cavaliers, who will be without another key rotation player for the foreseeable future. According to Dave McMenamin of ESPN.com (via Twitter), All-Star big man Kevin Love will undergo a scope on his left knee, and is expected to be sidelined for the next six weeks. The Cavaliers confirmed the news this morning in a press release, announcing that Love underwent arthroscopic surgery to remove a loose body from his knee.

The Cavaliers had already been missing J.R. Smith, whose broken thumb is expected to keep him out of action until sometime in March, and Iman Shumpert, who has been out for the last week due to a sprained ankle. The team also lost Chris Andersen for the season due to a torn ACL, though the Birdman is no longer on the roster, having been sent to the Hornets in a trade on Monday.

With Love out of action, Tristan Thompson could see an uptick in his playing time, and newly-acquired Derrick Williams figures to get more minutes than expected. Still, the Cavs may have to consider adding a big man using the open spot on their roster. Channing Frye is currently the only other healthy big man on the roster, so the team will have to rely heavily on small lineups in the short term.

While Love – along with Smith and Shumpert – should be back well before the playoffs begin, the Cavaliers’ hold on the No. 1 seed in the Eastern Conference looks increasingly tenuous. The Celtics and Wizards have been red hot in recent weeks, and are gaining ground on Cleveland, while the Raptors just fortified their roster by reaching a deal to acquire Serge Ibaka.

Cavs Notes: Love, Smith, James, Williams, Lue

The Cavaliers are concerned with Kevin Love‘s sore left knee and will pursue a second opinion, according to a report from Joe Vardon of Cleveland.com. Love, who has been ruled out of Cleveland’s match-up with the Timberwolves on Tuesday, underwent an MRI on Sunday. Love missed a pair of games on January 30 and February 1 due to a back issue, but has otherwise produced well of late- averaging 21.4 points with 11.8 rebounds over his last five games.

“Always concerned when guys are going down,” coach Tyronn Lue said of Love’s ailment. “And we’re already limited as it is. Definitely concerned, but gotta see how he feels. Just, get evaluated tomorrow and see how he feels.”

More from Cleveland…

  • J.R. Smith could make an on-court return sooner than expected, according to Chris Haynes and Dave McMenamin of ESPN. While Smith is targeting a mid-March return to the lineup, his timeline could be expedited during the All-Star break. Even if Smith returns in three weeks, the 31-year-old will only have 16 games to prepare for the postseason.
  • A Cavs source told Dave McMenamin of ESPN that Derrick Williams has already done enough to earn a second 10-day contract. One of Williams’ biggest advocates has been LeBron James, who told Chris Fedor of Cleveland.com that he’d like to see Williams stick with the team. “We hope that this is a long-term thing,” James said. “He’s 25-years old. It doesn’t seem like it because we’ve been hearing his name for so long. But he’s 25, he hasn’t even gotten to his potential, to his prime yet. So hopefully this group, this locker room, myself, my leadership — just want to see him grow every day, and it’s a good place for him.”
  • Chris Fedor of Cleveland.com discussed Lue’s new lineup- LeBron James, Kyle Korver, Derrick Williams, Richard Jefferson, and Channing Frye. None of the players in this formation are under 6-foot-7, Fedor writes, while possessing athletic ability and above-average shooting. “Yeah, I did (like it),” Lue said. “And I got to figure out different ways to get LeBron the ball where we want to get it to when we’re running our other actions.” James echoed his coach’s sentiments. “It’s a fantastic lineup, so it worked well for us. We got up the floor, got stops, shared the ball, so it’s a pretty good lineup. It’s something that coach has in his back pocket if he wants to use it again.”

LeBron, Love, Lue Respond To Latest Trade Rumors

While teams and players often avoid directly responding to individual trade rumors and reports, members of the Cavaliers wasted no time in shooting down a Monday rumor involving Kevin Love. After The New York Daily News reported that LeBron James was pushing the Cavs to acquire Carmelo Anthony, even if it meant giving up Love, team and league sources told other outlets that it wasn’t true, and the Cavs publicly pushed back after their dramatic win over the Wizards.

“It’s trash,” James said of the report, per Dave McMenamin of ESPN.com. “And the guy who wrote it is trash too, for writing that, especially during the game like that. So it’s always about outside noise and that’s just outside noise for us. We got to focus on what needs to be done and that’s to continue to compete for a championship. And we got who we got. Our GM (David Griffin) will do a great job of figuring out if we need something else, but right now we’re in a good place.”

Cavs head coach Tyronn Lue suggested that Love should be flattered that other teams want him, but said the big man isn’t going anywhere, and the latest rumors are “not coming from our end.” As for Love, after perhaps his best game of the season, in which he racked up 39 points and 12 rebounds, he was happy to laugh off Monday’s report.

“What do they say?” Love said. “‘A lie gets halfway around the world before the truth has a chance to put his pants on.’ So, it’s a lie. … It’s almost laughable. I’m on this team. I’m going to be on this team. And we want to win with the guys that we have.”

Love indicated last week that he expected to remain with the Cavs for “a long time,” and even though reports at the time suggested that he wasn’t entirely untouchable, a trade is viewed as highly unlikely. The Cavs reportedly have some interest in Anthony, but aren’t actively looking to trade for the Knicks forward, despite New York’s continued pursuit of Love.

While Monday’s story from the Daily News was roundly denied both privately and publicly by Cavs sources, it’s worth noting that Frank Isola wasn’t the only reporter with the scoop. Keith Smith of RealGM.com (Twitter link) also heard from league sources that LeBron has pushed Cleveland to acquire Anthony “at any cost” — Chris Paul has taken a similar approach with the Clippers, per Smith.

The Cavs’ strong and aggressive denial of the report suggests that Love almost certainly isn’t going anywhere, particularly in a deal for Anthony. But the fact that multiple reporters heard from reliable sources that LeBron might be pushing for such a trade means that info is coming from somewhere. It will be interesting to see what moves – if any – Griffin and the Cavs ultimately make in the coming weeks.

Conflicting Reports On LBJ Pushing For Melo Trade

8:42 PM: Both David Aldridge of NBA.com (Twitter link) and Sam Amico of Fox Sports (Twitter link) hear that the report of James pushing the Cavs to make the deal regardless of whether it includes Love is “not true.”

8:19 PM: LeBron James is pushing the Cavaliers front office to trade for Carmelo Anthony even if it means giving up Kevin Love in the deal, Frank Isola of the New York Daily News reports. The Knicks have targeted Love in an Anthony deal, but Cleveland is against trading the 28-year-old power forward.

It’s unclear whether James as enough influence to force the franchise to make the deal. He’s under contract for two more seasons after this one, though his contract contains a player option for the 2018/19 campaign, which means he could become a free agent in the summer of 2018.

James has been critical of the front office this season. He recently lobbied for the Cavs to add a playmaker and it was reported that he and the team were at odds over the team’s payroll. Last week, Cleveland held auditions for several players, including Mario Chalmers, but no signings were made.

Isola notes that last season, Anthony and James discussed teaming up on the Cavs, but at the time, Anthony said he wasn’t ready to leave New York. The Knicks are likely to miss the playoffs for the fourth straight season and the team’s lack of success could persuade Anthony to waive his no-trade clause to go to a legitimate contender. In addition to the Cavs, the Knicks have also reached out to the Celtics and Clippers regarding an Anthony deal.

Atlantic Notes: Sixers, Hernangomez, Knicks

The Sixers saw an unexpected glimpse of success last month but recent losses could help the team focus on their real goals, writes Bob Cooney of the Philadelphia Inquirer. Injuries to Joel Embiid and Robert Covington have hamstrung a team that not long ago emerged as a surprisingly potent defensive presence, now any talk of them rallying for a playoff spot in the East has been silenced.

According to Cooney, the only presumed Sixers starters for the 2017/18 season are Embiid and 2016 first-overall pick Ben Simmons. That leaves questions at the other positions that will need answering before the end of the season.

There’s more out of the Atlantic Division:

  • The idea that Carmelo Anthony will be swapped for Kevin Love may be unlikely, writes Jeff Zillgitt of USA Today, but it isn’t far-fetched. Zillgitt also points out that the Cavaliers and Knicks, serendipitously play each other on February 23, the day of the trade deadline.
  • The Anthony trade drama impacts more than just the veteran himself, writes Al Iannazzone of Newsday — it’s affecting all the other Knicks on the roster. “The reason why we signed here is to try to make the playoffs, and we still have a great chance of doing that,” said Courtney Lee. “That’s the key now — getting in the playoffs. It doesn’t matter what the record is. As long as we get in there, it’s a new slate. So if we get there, I like our chances.”
  • Big man Willy Hernangomez has looked great off the bench for the Knicks of late but that doesn’t mean a promotion ahead of Joakim Noah on the depth chart is coming any time soon, writes Ian Begley of ESPN. Head coach Jeff Hornacek cites lineup chemistry as one of the biggest reasons why Hernangomez has thrived as he has and why the club is reluctant to tinker with his spot in the rotation.
  • It’s time for the Raptors to make a trade, writes Tom Ziller of SB Nation. The team boasts a plethora of prospects and a top-five general manager in the league. Those, Ziller speculates, could help the club get back into a position where it could seriously compete with Cleveland for the top spot in the East.

Cavaliers Notes: Varejao, Love, Anthony, Shumpert

Anderson Varejao was waived Friday by the Warriors, but he won’t be coming back to Cleveland, at least not for a while, writes Joe Vardon of Cleveland.com. The long-time Cavalier was traded to Portland on February 18th of last season, and league rules prevent him from rejoining the Cavs for a full year. Also, Vardon expects someone to claim him 0ff waivers. The Timberwolves, Jazz, Nuggets, 76ers and Nets are all below the salary floor and could benefit from adding the rest of Varejao’s $1.55MM contract. In addition, the Cavaliers prefer to keep their open roster spot through the February 23rd trade deadline to provide flexibility. The 34-year-old Varejao spent his first 12 NBA seasons with Cleveland.

There’s more news this morning about the defending champs:

  • If Kevin Love was trying to impress Knicks president Phil Jackson Saturday night, his 23-point, 16-rebound performance should have done it, notes Anthony Rieber of Newsday. Jackson reportedly asked for Love in a possible deal for Carmelo Anthony. The Cleveland forward said after the game that he is trying to ignore trade talk. “I don’t think about it,” he told reporters. “I don’t really pay attention. I do look at my phone, but it’s not like that’s really crossing my mind or is on top of my mind at all.”
  • If the Cavs are pondering a Love-for-Anthony deal, their only consideration should be who gives them the best shot at defending their title, writes Jason Lloyd of The Akron Beacon Journal. Both can score, but Anthony is a better playmaker and Love is a better rebounder. He adds that the teams discussed a similar deal last season.
  • The Superior Court in Fayette County, Ga., will hear motions next week to throw out elements of Iman Shumpert‘s DUI case from August, according to a separate piece from Vardon. His attorney wants the court to disregard Shumpert’s refusal to take a blood test and the result of his field test, saying they are designed to check for alcohol consumption, not marijuana, which Shumpert admitted to using before being pulled over. He could face a possible suspension, depending on the outcome of the case.

Kevin Love Expects To Be With Cavs ‘For A Long Time’

Kevin Love‘s name has surfaced once again in trade rumors this season, but after the big man played a key role in helping the team secure a championship, the Cavaliers don’t appear too interested in moving him. For his part, Love told reporters on Friday that he expects to remain in Cleveland “for a long time” (Associated Press report via ESPN.com).

[RELATED: Knicks haven’t given up pursuit of Kevin Love]

This year’s round of rumors involving Love has centered on the Knicks, with a report last week suggesting that Cleveland had rebuffed New York’s efforts to work out a swap involving Love and Carmelo Anthony.

“I predicted that,” Love said with a laugh when he was asked about the Knicks’ reported interest. “I said it doesn’t matter if I have an All-Star year or its one start or the other, it’s always going to be there, right?”

Although it doesn’t appear the Knicks have given up on the idea of landing Love, multiple sources tell Joe Vardon of Cleveland.com that the Cavs don’t have a whole lot of interest in Anthony, and that they have even less interest in trading Love for him. While acquiring Anthony isn’t totally out of the question for the Cavs, it’s “mostly” out of the question, per Vardon.

Meanwhile, Love was indeed named an NBA All-Star for the fourth time overall and the first time since he became a Cavalier. The 28-year-old is averaging 19.9 PPG, 11.0 RPG, and 2.6 3PG in 41 games so far this season. Those marks are his best since his days with the Timberwolves.

Still, the Cavs won’t entirely rule out the possibility of moving Love, since the only truly untouchable player on their roster is LeBron James, says Vardon. But any Love deal would have to make the team better this season, and there aren’t many scenarios that fit that bill. Both the Cavs and Love himself view a deal this month as highly unlikely, sources tell Vardon.

Love, who has been sidelined this week due to a back injury, is expected to return to Cleveland’s lineup on Saturday.

Cavs Notes: Stephenson, LeBron, Wiggins, Love

The Cavaliers brought in several free agents for an audition today, with players like Kirk Hinrich, Mario Chalmers, Lance Stephenson, and Jordan Farmar earning a look from the team. Of the names on that list, Stephenson’s was one that immediately stood out, given his on-court history with LeBron James. The former Pacer faced James and the Heat in three consecutive postseasons, serving as an agitator and memorably blowing into LeBron’s ear during one playoff game. Nonetheless, the reigning Finals MVP tells ESPN’s Dave McMenamin that he’d have no problem with Stephenson joining the Cavs.

“I just want to win, man,” James said. “That’s all that matters to me. I got no personal problems with nobody.”

Here’s more out of Cleveland:

  • Asked about the four veteran free agents listed above, James pointed out that he has a history with all of them except for Farmar. “I got a history with all those guys except Jordan,” LeBron said, per McMenamin. “I got a history with Lance too, obviously. I got a history versus Kirk. I played him in a lot of playoff series. And I got a history with Rio [Chalmers]. … At the end of the day, Rio is recovering from his Achilles tear. I hope he’s been doing everything he needs to do just to get back on the floor. He loves to play the game. … I’m a supporter of what this franchise wants to do, no matter what it’s doing. But my focus right now is to get our guys playing championship-level basketball.”
  • As the Cavs struggled on the court in January, LeBron was as vocal as ever off the court, publicly airing his frustrations about Charles Barkley, Phil Jackson, and the Cavs’ roster in recent weeks. ESPN’s Brian Windhorst explains why James has been more agitated than usual as of late.
  • In a separate piece for ESPN.com, Windhorst explores whether Andrew Wiggins will ever make the Cavaliers regret the deal that sent the No. 1 pick to the Timberwolves in a package for Kevin Love. As Windhorst observes, the fact that the Cavs won a title with Love makes it unlikely that the team would ever want a mulligan on the move.
  • Speaking of Love, an MRI on his injured back revealed no structural damage, as Jason Lloyd of The Akron Beacon Journal writes. He’ll miss tonight’s game, but the injury isn’t expect to sideline him for too long.
  • Earlier this afternoon, we heard that the Knicks haven’t given up their pursuit of Love, despite resistance from the Cavs.

Knicks Haven’t Given Up Pursuit Of Kevin Love

Despite the Cavaliers’ unwillingness to move Kevin Love in a deal involving Carmelo Anthony, the Knicks continue to pursue Love, league sources tell Ramona Shelburne and Marc Stein of ESPN.com. Shelburne and Stein first reported last week that Cleveland had rebuffed New York’s efforts to work out a swap involving Love and Anthony.

According to the ESPN duo, the Cavaliers do have some interest in Anthony, but would only be interested in such a deal if it didn’t mean surrendering Love. Without any of the Cavs’ Big Three in a trade, the team would likely have to include at least two players out of a group that includes Tristan Thompson, J.R. Smith, Iman Shumpert, and Channing Frye in order to make the salaries work. That’s my speculation though — there’s no indication the two sides have specifically discussed those players.

As Stein and Shelburne report, the Knicks have been focused on engaging the Cavaliers, Clippers, and Celtics in trade talks, believing that Anthony would be willing to waive his no-trade clause to accept a move to one of those teams.

However, Cleveland and Los Angeles are both in tax territory, with the Cavs reluctant to add much more salary and the Clippers up against a hard cap, which will make it difficult to complete a deal with either team. Anthony’s 15% trade kicker further complicates trade discussions, as it would add approximately $9.6MM to his remaining salary.

Per ESPN’s report, many of New York’s recent discussions with the Clippers and Cavs have had to include a theoretical third or fourth team to create a plausible trade scenario. As for Boston, the Celtics don’t appear to have substantial interest in Anthony, and any talks with the Knicks so far are believed to be exploratory in nature.

[RELATED: Clippers, Knicks Seeking Third Trade Partner?]

Anthony, who has a formal no-trade clause in his contract and has maintained that he prefers to stay with the Knicks, has conceded that he’d be willing to consider approving a deal if New York wants to rebuild. Still, he told reporters on Tuesday that he hasn’t given the Knicks any list of teams he’d approve. Anthony added that his family will be an important consideration if he’s presented with a possible trade opportunity, since he’s not eager to uproot his wife and son.

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