Kevin Love

Kevin Love Fractures Thumb

Veteran power forward Kevin Love has sustained a right thumb hairline fracture, the Cavaliers have announced (via Twitter). The team adds in a statement that the injured digit will undergo daily assessments, which suggests at least that this may not be an issue that keeps Love sidelined long-term.

The 34-year-old, a former five-time All-Star, has settled nicely into a backup role for the 9-6 Cavaliers thus far this season, playing behind starting power forward Evan Mobley and center Jarrett Allen.

Through 15 healthy games, the 6’10” power forward/center out of UCLA is averaging 11.3 PPG on .425/.409/.861 shooting. He is also pulling down 7.4 RPG and handing out 2.6 APG.

If Love does have to miss time, another longtime league vet, seven-foot backup center Robin Lopez, could be leaned upon for additional relief minutes.

Love, who won a title as a starter with Cleveland in 2016, injured his thumb during the third quarter of the team’s Friday night 132-122 overtime victory over the Hornets. He is considered doubtful to suit up against the Heat on Sunday.

Central Notes: Cavaliers, C. Lee, Beauchamp, Bulls

The Cavaliers are embracing the high expectations that came with the Donovan Mitchell trade and they’re having a great time while preparing for the new season, writes Chris Fedor of Cleveland.com. Newcomer Robin Lopez raves about the team’s culture, comparing it to his time with the Bucks, and Darius Garland cites “immaculate vibes around the gym.” Veteran forward Kevin Love agrees, saying he enjoys being around his teammates.

“I think it’s just the temperament of this group,” Love said. “It’s one thing to say and it’s one thing to actually see it live here. More than anything, guys have a willingness to just listen, able to really communicate at a very high level. I think that all starts with (coach J.B. Bickerstaff) but trickles down through the coaching staff. I think we just have very, very high character people, let alone players, out here with us. I think we’ve gotten better every practice so far.”

The addition of Mitchell has added to the optimism that was built as the Cavs reached the play-in tournament last season, and he has been “rejuvenated” by his new surroundings after leaving a veteran team in Utah, Fedor states. Caris LeVert adds that he felt welcome right away after being traded to Cleveland in February.

“It’s a unique group in the sense that everyone celebrates each other and we celebrate the wins,” LeVert said. “We’re always looking out for each other. That’s super unique, especially in the NBA with a lot of different mentalities around the league. I think here it’s all about team, it’s all about family.”

There’s more from the Central Division:

  • With Mike Budenholzer still recovering from ankle surgery, associate head coach Charles Lee led the Bucks in their preseason opener Saturday night, per Eric Nehm of The Athletic. He was matched up against a close friend in Grizzlies coach Taylor Jenkins, who believes Lee will eventually get a head coaching opportunity. “It’s going to be a no-brainer very soon that he’s going to be a head coach in this league,” Jenkins said. “He’s got the care factor. He’s got the personality. He’s got the resolve. He’s got the intellect. He’s got everything.”
  • The Bucks held out several players Saturday night, so first-round pick MarJon Beauchamp logged 27 minutes in his first NBA game, Nehm adds. “It didn’t feel real, stepping on the court first time, getting the welcoming from the fans and stuff. It was a blessing — everything I dreamed of,” Beauchamp said. “I had a little bit of jitters, you know? I feel like I got some great looks, but it just didn’t go in. Just gotta keep trusting, because I put in the work. I just gotta keep going.”
  • The Bulls are focused on making their offense less predictable and less reliant on Zach LaVine and DeMar DeRozan, according to Rob Schaeffer of NBC Sports Chicago.

Cavaliers Rumors: Mitchell, Love, Rubio, LeBron

The Cavaliers‘ trade for Donovan Mitchell came together quickly last week after the Knicks decided to give an extension to RJ Barrett, Chris Fedor of Cleveland.com says in a HoopsHype discussion with Michael Scotto. The Cavs and Jazz held unproductive talks regarding Mitchell in July at the Las Vegas Summer League, but president of basketball operations Koby Altman reached out again after news leaked of Barrett’s extension, asking if Utah would accept a package that didn’t include Darius Garland, Jarrett Allen or Evan Mobley.

The resulting deal gives Cleveland four potential All-Stars who are under contract for the next three seasons, along with $2.5MM in remaining cap room to fill out the roster. Fedor notes that the Cavaliers have a history of keeping a roster spot open for flexibility, so the next move may not happen right away. He suggests Cleveland may try to package Caris LeVert or Cedi Osman along with second-round picks in an effort to trade for a reliable small forward.

Scotto points out that Collin Sexton was a big winner in the trade because he had to be re-signed before he could be sent to Utah. Scotto hears that Sexton’s new four-year, $72MM contract is far beyond what Cleveland would have offered to keep him. The Cavs had been unwilling to exceed the luxury tax threshold to re-sign Sexton or to attach assets in an Osman trade to clear more room below the tax to increase their offer to Sexton.

There’s more on the Cavaliers from Fedor and Scotto:

  • Kevin Love‘s expiring $28.9MM contract could be used for another major trade, but Fedor believes the team is more likely to keep Love and take advantage of the cap relief after the season. Love accepted a reserve role under coach J.B. Bickerstaff last season and is well-liked in the locker room. Scotto can see him re-signing next summer for roughly the mid-level exception.
  • The Cavs brought back Ricky Rubio on a multiyear contract because they aren’t certain how much he’ll be able to play this season, according to Fedor. Rubio was examined by the team’s medical staff recently, and there’s still no timetable for him to return from the ACL tear he suffered last December. Fedor hears that Rubio might be ready in January or February, but the Cavaliers are mostly focused on getting a fully healthy season from him in 2023/24.
  • Cleveland wouldn’t turn down a LeBron James return after his current contract expires, but it would be on much different terms than when he came back in 2014, Fedor adds. Management feels good about the roster it has put together and wouldn’t be willing to give James the power that he typically demands.

Cavs To Hold Player-Led Mini-Camp In Los Angeles

A number of Cavaliers players will meet next week in Los Angeles for a voluntary mini-camp, according to Chris Fedor of Cleveland.com, who reports that All-Star guard Darius Garland and Rookie of the Year runner-up Evan Mobley are helping to organize the workouts.

Sources tell Fedor that the majority of Cavs players are expected to participate, though some of the team’s international players may not make it to L.A. due to overseas obligations, including to their national teams. That group includes Lauri Markkanen, Cedi Osman, and Raul Neto.

Collin Sexton also won’t be attending the mini-camp, since he’s still a restricted free agent and isn’t under contract with the Cavaliers, Fedor notes.

A number of clubs around the NBA hold voluntary offseason mini-camps to help improve team chemistry and to prepare for the season. As Fedor writes, LeBron James used to organize them during his Cleveland days, and handed off that responsibility to Kevin Love in recent years.

Love spoke at the end of the 2021/22 season about possibly holding a mini-camp in Austin or Nashville, according to Fedor, who says the possibility of player-led workouts taking place in Nashville next month remains on the table.

Northwest Notes: Morris, Hyland, Nuggets Draft, Minott, Wiggins

The impending trade of JaMychal Green to the Thunder portends a very busy summer for the Nuggets, Mike Singer of the Denver Post writes.

Denver is intent on maximizing Nikola Jokic‘s prime years, so the fact that the team now has two first-rounders in this year’s draft suggests more moves are coming. It’s unlikely two rookies would have an immediate impact on a team with championship aspirations.

With Jamal Murray returning this season, Monte Morris could be moved. He has an affordable contract and has generated significant interest around the league, a source told Singer. Alternatively, the Nuggets might consider moving Bones Hyland for a much-needed defensive wing player.

We have more from the Northwest Division:

  • If Denver holds onto the No. 21 pick or trades up in the draft, which wings might interest the front office as it looks to improve the team defensively? Singer lists a handful of wing prospects, including Duke’s AJ Griffin and Ohio State’s E.J. Liddell.
  • University of Memphis forward Josh Minott visited the Jazz and that’s significant, given where Minott is projected to go in the draft, according to Sarah Todd of the Deseret News. Most of the prospects the Jazz have worked out are projected as late second-round selections at best. In contrast, Minott is expected to go higher in the second round and could even sneak into the first round. He’s rated as the No. 46 prospect on ESPN’s Best Available list. Utah doesn’t currently have a draft pick.
  • Andrew Wiggins followed the footsteps of Kevin Garnett and Kevin Love by winning an NBA championship after being dealt by the Timberwolves in a high-profile trade, Patrick Reusse of the Minneapolis Star Tribune writes. Reusse seeks out opinions from several sources as to why Wiggins has excelled with Golden State after underperforming with Minnesota.

Cavaliers Rumors: Sexton, LeVert, Trade Targets, More

Chris Fedor of Cleveland.com recently spoke to Michael Scotto about a number of Cavaliers-related topics for the latest edition of the HoopsHype podcast.

Guard Collin Sexton, whose season ended prematurely after suffering a torn meniscus in his left knee just 11 games into the season, will be an interesting player to watch this summer. Sexton will be a restricted free agent once Cleveland tenders him a $7,228,449 qualifying offer. As a restricted free agent, the Cavs will have the ability to match any offer sheet for the 23-year-old, and since he’s coming off an injury and not many teams will have cap space to spend on free agents, a reunion seems likely.

When the Cavs were discussing a rookie scale extension with Sexton’s representatives last summer, the two sides floated a contract similar to the one Bogdan Bogdanovic received from Atlanta, which was four years and $72MM (with a player option in the final season), sources tell Fedor. However, he hears that the Cavs value Sexton in the $15-18MM per year range, while Sexton is seeking something closer to $18-22MM annually.

Although Sexton has undoubtedly been productive on the offense end, averaging 24.3 PPG, 3.1 RPG and 4.4 APG on .475/.371/.815 shooting in 2020/21, Fedor notes that there were questions about Sexton’s fit entering ’21/22, and his injury and the team’s success without him didn’t help his case. Given that he’s a 6’1″ shooting guard and a subpar defender, some teams view the former No. 8 pick as more of a sixth man than a starter, which could hurt his leverage in contract negotiations.

Scotto wonders if the Knicks or Wizards might be interested in Sexton, noting that both teams are looking for guards, but neither team has cap space. As Fedor previously reported, he hears that Cleveland has been curious if the Pistons might pursue Sexton, but sources tell Fedor that the Cavaliers don’t believe any team will end up offering him $20MM+ per season.

Here’s more from Scotto and Fedor:

  • Both the Cavs and Caris LeVert have expressed interest in reaching an extension this summer, and league executives tell Scotto that a shorter deal in the $19-21MM range might make sense for both sides. However, as Fedor observes, LeVert will be on an expiring $18.8MM contract in ’22/23, so if the Cavs don’t like the types of numbers Levert’s agents are throwing out, they could just wait it out and perhaps use him as trade bait next season.
  • Kevin Love improved his trade stock after a bounce-back, healthy season, and both Scotto and Fedor believe that his $28.9MM contract could be used as a trade chip if the team opts to pursue higher-paid veterans.
  • Noting Cleveland needs two-way wing scorers and a solid backup point guard for Darius Garland, Fedor hears the Cavs are interested in a number of veterans as potential trade targets: Bogdan Bogdanovic, Bojan Bogdanovic, Gordon Hayward, Tobias Harris, Harrison Barnes, Gary Trent Jr., Jerami Grant, Aaron Gordon, Andrew Wiggins, and Mike Conley.
  • Although there’s mutual interest in a reunion with Ricky Rubio, Fedor says money could become an obstacle to a deal being completed. Rubio is likely to miss at least a portion of next season after suffering a second torn ACL in his left knee in December, and using the mid-level exception to sign him would reduce the club’s flexibility while still leaving a hole on the roster until he returns.
  • Sources tell Fedor that if a deal with Rubio doesn’t come to fruition, the Cavs would be very open to using their full mid-level to sign Grizzlies backup point guard Tyus Jones, assuming Memphis lets him walk in free agency and he’s unable to get more money elsewhere. Other guards Cleveland might look into in free agency are Delon Wright, Goran Dragic, and Raul Neto. If the Cavs pivot to a wing/forward, Kyle Anderson, Jeremy Lamb, and T.J. Warren are possibilities, according to Fedor.
  • For potential draft candidates with the No. 14 pick, Fedor hears the Cavs are fans of Malaki Branham, Johnny Davis, Bennedict Mathurin, Tari Eason, TyTy Washington, and Jeremy Sochan. Those players range from Nos. 9-18 on ESPN’s big board, so some might not be available at 14.

Kevin Love Stung By Criticism From Colangelo

Following heavy criticism from his experience with USA Basketball prior to the Olympics, Kevin Love finally spoke out on the subject in an interview with Taylor Rooks posted on Twitter by Bleacher Report, and said some people “threw me under the bus.”

The Cavaliers power forward said he was still recovering from a calf injury when he committed to play. Love eventually withdrew from Team USA before the squad headed to Tokyo.

“I was not able to be in the best shape I could have been because I couldn’t fully run yet with my calf, I couldn’t really push off,” he said. “I still could really shoot the ball, I could space the floor, I could rebound but as far as switching one-through-five and how they wanted to play, it just wasn’t appropriate for me.”

Jerry Colangelo, the former managing director of USA Basketball, criticized the 2012 gold medalist last summer for not being in shape when he showed up to camp.

“I didn’t think Kevin Love was going to play. I wasn’t even sure he had much left to play,” Colangelo said. “He reached out to us and said he was in shape and said he felt he owed us. And on the basis of that, we’re looking at someone with international experience who at one time was a heck of a rebounder and could still shoot the ball. You know, being like a 12th man on a roster. Well, it didn’t work out. He wasn’t in shape. And he was way behind as it turned out. So you move on. Call it a mistake.”

Love said those comments stung.

“People that I’ve had relationships with throughout USA basketball for that long, threw me under the bus. And I didn’t like that,” Love said. “I felt that I did the right thing by coming to the landing spot and landing point that I eventually got to. I just thought it was very unfair and coming from this elite fraternity that we have in our 450 players. You would think, like, you take care of each other. … I hope I’m a part of that family from here on out.”

NBA Announces 2021/22 Award Finalists

The NBA has announced the 2021/22 season award finalists for the league’s six major awards: Most Valuable Player, Rookie of the Year, Sixth Man of the Year, Coach of the Year, Defensive Player of the Year and Most Improved Player.

[RELATED: Hoops Rumors’ 2022 NBA Award Picks]

The awards were voted on by a panel of sportswriters and broadcasters. The three top vote-getters for each award are the finalists. They are as follows:

Most Valuable Player:

Rookie of the Year:

Sixth Man of the Year:

Coach of the Year:

  • Taylor Jenkins (Grizzlies)
  • Erik Spoelstra (Heat)
  • Monty Williams (Suns)

Defensive Player of the Year:

Most Improved Player:

Winners will be announced during TNT’s coverage of the NBA playoffs, according to the league.

Cavaliers Notes: Sexton, Future, Garland, Love

Collin Sexton is looking forward to training camp in September, whether it’s with the Cavaliers or somebody else, writes Chris Fedor of Cleveland.com. A meniscus tear knocked Sexton out of action 11 games into the season, and there’s still no timeline for him to resume basketball activities. A source told Fedor that Sexton will undergo several tests next week to determine his progress.

“I’m getting there,” he said after today’s exit meeting with coach J.B. Bickerstaff. “Every day is a grind. I feel better every day. As long as I get better 1% each and every day I wake up, then it’s a win-win. I just continue to know that some days are going to be better than others and just continue to know I will be full go and I know I’m going to be 100%. I have confidence in myself and I have confidence in the people that’s working with me to get me back to where I was — and even much better.”

Sexton’s contract status made his future in Cleveland uncertain before the injury occurred. He’s headed for free agency this summer and will be restricted if the Cavs make a $7.23MM qualifying offer. The team acquired Caris LeVert at the trade deadline, which means Sexton might be in a sixth-man role if he returns.

“I want to be here in Cleveland,” he said. “I love the organization, love my teammates and whatever happens I know that Cleveland was really good to me. I know this is the place that helped me get to where I am today, and I know I want to continue to be a part of this winning culture. I feel like me just being able to be at the start of it helped us get to yesterday and where we are right now at the present. I love Cleveland. I want to be here.”

There’s more from Cleveland:

  • The Cavaliers had their season derailed by injuries and weren’t able to advance beyond the play-in tournament, but the mood was optimistic after Friday’s game, according to Kelsey Russo of The Athletic. Cleveland was among the most improved teams in the league, and there’s a feeling that the foundation is in place to be a long-term contender. “We’re still like, ‘Damn, it’s really over,’” Jarrett Allen said. “And then two seconds later, and it’s like, we’re laughing because we had a hell of a year. A lot has happened this year — positive, negative — but we look at all the times that we did play well, and we came together. And that was all positive.”
  • Darius Garland has made a strong case to receive a rookie-scale extension that could be worth up to a projected $181MM over five years, per Bobby Marks of ESPN. Garland became an All-Star in his third NBA season and took on a larger role as the team dealt with injuries, averaging 25.2 points and a league-high 10.8 assists per game after March 1.
  • Kevin Love‘s bounce-back season may cause the front office to consider an extension, Marks adds. Love has an expiring $28.9MM contract for next season, but there would be no restrictions on how much his salary could decrease in the first year of a new deal.

Cavaliers Notes: Allen, Garland, Mobley, Love

The Cavaliers are still hoping injured center Jarrett Allen can return at some point, but he will miss Sunday’s regular season finale against the Bucks, tweets Kelsey Russo of The Athletic. Allen, who hasn’t played since fracturing his left middle finger on March 6, is listed as “out” on Cleveland’s official injury report.

Allen went through a 15-minute workout before Friday’s game at Brooklyn, according to Chris Fedor of Cleveland.com. He wore a splint over the injured finger and did nearly everything one-handed as he simulated a variety of game situations. Every shot he took was with his right hand, Fedor adds.

A source told Fedor that a major concern involves Allen’s pain tolerance, particularly when he catches passes. Allen and the team remain hopeful that he’ll be ready for the Cavs’ first play-in tournament game, which will take place Tuesday if they’re in the 7-8 matchup or Wednesday if they fall to the 9-10 contest.

There’s more from Cleveland:

  • The Cavaliers have slumped lately amid a series of injuries, but Darius Garland believes they’re still a “scary” postseason opponent for anyone, whether or not Allen is able to play, Fedor writes in a separate story“We’re scary with him or without him,” Garland said. “There’s a lot of teams that don’t want to see us with him or without him. We get him back, great. If we don’t, great. We still got basketball games to play.”
  • Although Cleveland lost its third straight game Friday, there was some good news, Fedor adds. Rookie star Evan Mobley returned from a five-game absence with a sprained left ankle and contributed 17 points and seven rebounds in 34 minutes.
  • In an interview with Chris Mannix of Sports IllustratedKevin Love said this season is the most fun he’s had since winning the NBA title six years ago. Love, who has been through disputes with management in recent years, credits the trust that coach J.B. Bickerstaff has shown in him. “J.B., he’s like, ‘I want you to play free,’” Love said. “You have the green light … so for me, there was no pushback. And from then on, it took me about, I’d say four to six weeks to really feel right and secure and find how I was going to play within our group and different matchups and who I was going to be playing with. I’d say around December is where I found myself within that sixth man role. And then it just grew from there.”