Kevin Love

Cavalier Notes: Jones, Irving, LeBron

Discontent marinates within the Cavaliers‘ locker room and veteran James Jones recently spoke to the team to try to sort out the issues, sources tell Joe Vardon of Cleveland.com. After the team’s loss to the Spurs, Jones rhetorically asked players what they wanted out of the season. Vardon adds that neither Kyrie Irving nor LeBron James addressed the team, but a source told the scribe that the losing and travel have “frayed nerves.”

Cleveland owns a record of 6-9 during the month of March and the team has the eighth worst Plus/Minus over that stretch, as I recently mentioned.

Here’s more from The Land:

  • Irving holds himself accountable for the Cavaliers‘ struggles, Ramona Shelburne of ESPN.com writes. “I had to face it, had to face the music,” Irving said of his performance against the Spurs earlier in the week. “I think we all had to do it. But me more importantly, I had to look in the mirror and just wasn’t doing enough. I need to demand more out of myself and do it at a high level.”
  • Irving and James had an extended and emotional conversation after the Spurs loss, Shelburne adds in the same piece. Irving declines to comment on the nature of the meeting, calling it “private.”
  • Irving believes getting J.R. Smith and Kevin Love back up to speed has been problematic, but the Olympian said it’s his job to help them, Chris Fedor of Cleveland.com relays. “I have to do my best as a point guard to integrate J.R. and K-Love and get our starting five back to having the continuity,” Irving said. “It hasn’t been perfect, to say the least. There’s definitely been some ups and downs and disagreements. But as adults and professionals we just have to figure it out.”
  • The Cavaliers have nine games left in the season, including tonight’s tilt with the Bulls, and coach Tyronn Lue feels it’s enough time to right the ship, Fedor adds in the same piece. “I feel like we can get it right,” Lue said. “We’re right anyway. We’re still right there.

League Unhappy With Cavaliers For Resting Stars

Cavaliers GM David Griffin got a call from the league office shortly after the team announced its decision to rest three stars for Saturday’s nationally televised game, tweets Ramona Shelburne of ESPN.com.

LeBron James, Kyrie Irving and Kevin Love were all held out of the contest with the Clippers, which was shown in prime time on ABC. The Cavs made the move because they are facing a back-to-back situation with a game tonight in Los Angeles against the Lakers.

It was the second straight game that the network was missing star power, as the Warriors rested Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson, Draymond Green and Andre Iguodala last week, while the Spurs were missing Kawhi Leonard and LaMarcus Aldridge for medical reasons.

Griffin said an NBA representative called him “seven minutes after it was announced” to express displeasure with the decision (Twitter link).

The game turned into a rout early as Los Angeles pulled away for a 108-78 victory on a night where ABC was competing with the NCAA Tournament for the attention of basketball fans. The network’s broadcasting crew ripped the Cavaliers throughout, with Mark Jackson calling the mismatch “an absolute joke” and Jeff Van Gundy labeling it “a prosecutable offense.”

Shelburne passed along Griffin’s explanation in a series of tweets:

  • “The decision made itself. Kyrie left the last game with a knee injury so we weren’t going to have him play both games of a [back-to-back].” (Twitter link).
  • “Kevin Love is rehabbing from knee surgery so he’s not going to play both ends of a back to back.” (Twitter link).
  • “[Kyle] Korver is legitimately injured so u pick the game ur going to be the most competitive in and that’s the one Bron needs to play in” (Twitter link).
  • “I can’t make [Bron] drag himself through this tonight by himself and then have everybody else play tomorrow and still not win.” (Twitter link).

Griffin added that he sympathizes with the league, but injuries dictated the Cavaliers’ actions (Twitter link). When asked about the $24B in television rights being paid by ABC, ESPN and TNT, he responded, “Yeah, and they’re paying me to win a championship.” (Twitter link).

Central Notes: Love, Wade, Sanders, Pistons

Kevin Love has been activated and will be back in action on Thursday, according to team’s official Twitter feed. The Cavaliers have played without their starting power forward for over a month, as he underwent arthroscopic surgery on his left knee on February 14th. Love told reporters, including Chris Fedor of the Cleveland Plain Dealer, that he was anxious to return after practicing on Wednesday. “I’m 28 years old, I feel like I’m just coming into the league again because I’m so antsy to get back,” Love said. “It’s good. You’ve got to trust the process, respect the process and give that leg time to heal, give injuries time to heal. But it’s not for lack of wanting to be out there.”

In other news around the Central Division:

  • The Bulls can hit the reset button if Dwyane Wade opts out of his contract, ESPN.com’s NBA analyst Kevin Pelton opines. The club could have significant cap space this summer if Wade, now out for the remainder of the regular season with a fractured elbow, turns down his $23.8MM player option and becomes a free agent again. That cap space could grow to approximately $50MM if the Bulls waive Rajon Rondo and stretch out his guaranteed money while also renouncing the rights to their other free agents, Pelton explains. Wade would probably have to settle for much less on the free agent market but opting out would allow him to join a contender such as the Cavaliers or Clippers, Pelton adds. The Spurs or even Warriors could be other possible suitors if Wade goes that route, according to the Sporting News’ Sean Deveney, and the Bucks and Nuggets would also check in on him since they showed interest last summer.
  • Cavaliers coach Tyronn Lue had to get permission to play newly-signed center Larry Sanders on Wednesday, according to Joe Vardon of the Cleveland Plain Dealer. Lue sent a ball boy into the stands during the team’s blowout victory over the Pistons to ask GM David Griffin if it was OK to play Sanders, who was supposed to get some work in the D League before making his Cleveland debut. Sanders wound up playing two minutes.  “I really just wanted to introduce him to the crowd and have him get in, give him a chance to have a standing ovation,” told reporters including Vardon. “I thought it was good for him.”
  • The Pistons have only two players — Andre Drummond and Kentavious Caldwell-Pope — remaining on the roster since Stan Van Gundy became head coach and president of basketball operations. The only current rotation player that he drafted is backup swingman Stanley Johnson. That’s not a coincidence, since Van Gundy is more comfortable acquiring proven players. “It’s easier with pro guys in trades and free agency than it is with college guys in the draft,” he told the assembled media, including Hoops Rumors. “You get these one-and-done guys and you’re trying to figure it out to what they’re going to be four or five years down the road. That’s a lot more of a challenge. At least [with experienced players], they’ve got a body of work and they’ve been in NBA systems. You’ve seen them play. You can get pretty good information on them, so you have a better idea of what you’re getting than you do when you go in the draft.”

Kevin Love Eyes Possible Weekend Return

After missing over a month with a knee injury, Kevin Love could be back in uniform for the Cavaliers as early as their upcoming road trip beginning this Saturday, Joe Vardon of Cleveland.com writes.

Love underwent arthroscopic surgery last month to clear loose bodies in his left knee. At the time, Vardon says, the forward was expected to be sidelined for six weeks.

The addition of Love – who has already returned to practice in some capacities – would be a welcome one for a Cavs team struggling to hold on to the top seed in the Eastern Conference. In 46 games with the squad this season, Love has averaged 20.0 points and 11.1 rebounds per game.

Though his return will hinge on how he feels following Wednesday’s practice and even today’s work out, the fact that general manager David Griffin is the one who told the media bodes well.

Vardon notes that as long as Love returns before the end of the four-game road trip that concludes on March 24, he’ll have beaten the initial six-week estimate.

Community Shootaround: Will Cavs And Warriors Hang Onto No. 1 Seeds?

Following tonight’s loss to the Pistons, the Cavs are 42-21- having played to a .500 record over their last 10 games. The return of J.R. Smith bolsters the team’s depth, but Tyronn Lue’s squad continues to miss Kevin Love‘s presence in their rotation. The Celtics aren’t far behind Cleveland’s trail, sitting two games behind the Cavs for the top seed in the Eastern Conference.

It’s been a similar story for Golden State, whose fourth quarter struggles have been well-publicized. The Warriors hardly have a comfortable hold of the Western Conference’s #1 seed, as San Antonio is riding a torrid 9-1 streak. The Warriors have long clinched a playoff spot, but Steve Kerr said he isn’t obsessed with the top seed.

“We still have the No. 1 seed, but I won’t run guys ragged to get it,” Kerr told Connor Letourneau of SF Gate. “We have to manage this stretch right here and get through this week.”

Fox Sports editor Brett Pollakoff has recently predicted the Spurs to overtake Golden State for the top seed, citing the Warriors’ difficult schedule through the rest of the regular season.

“The Warriors lead the Spurs by 2.5 games in the standings but are playing without Kevin Durant for at least a little while longer and have an absolutely brutal schedule this week, which ends with a game in San Antonio on Saturday,” Pollakoff writes. “The Spurs might be able to make up some ground during that stretch and are capable of playing consistently enough to overtake Golden State for the West’s No. 1 seed.”

Five Thirty Eight currently gives the Warriors a 79% chance of hanging onto the #1 seed, and Cleveland a 40% chance. We want to hear your opinion: Do you think each team will hold onto the #1 seed? If not, what will get in their way? Are the injuries to Kevin Durant and Kevin Love ultimately too much to overcome?

Let us know what you think in the comments section!

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.

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