There were reasons to believe Kevin Love‘s career might be nearing the end when he agreed to a buyout with the Cavaliers during last year’s All-Star break, writes Ira Winderman of The Sun Sentinel. Instead, the past 12 months have included a trip to the NBA Finals and a new contract with the Heat, as well as the birth of his first child, all of which have combined to make Love very content in Miami.
“I think the thing that’s most gratifying to me is that going to a new location or a new team or a new organization, new city, especially at this stage in your career, you never know what’s going to happen,” he said. “And after that run last year, I got so much fun out of it, as well as guys I’ll have relationships for life, bigger than basketball. My daughter was born on June 10th, right after Game 4 (of the NBA Finals). We bought a new house in Miami. It’s almost like we got to start our life in a place where we have a lot of friends and a lot of great teammates and people in the organization who have become family in a pretty quick time, so it has been a very happy year.”
Love was stuck on the bench in Cleveland, but a big forward who could shoot and rebound and had previous Finals experience was just what the Heat needed. He started 17 of the 21 regular season games he played after signing with Miami and maintained a rotation role throughout the team’s playoff run.
In addition to his on-court contributions, Love has become a veteran leader in the locker room, especially after the retirement of Udonis Haslem, Winderman notes. Love believes he can play for at least another year or two and then may transition into a mentorship role.
There’s more from Miami:
- Alondes Williams was impressive in Friday’s Rising Stars competition, and he might get a shot at more playing time after the break, Winderman states in a mailbag column. Winderman speculates that the two-way player may be in line for a standard contract if the Heat decide to waive Dru Smith, who’s out for the rest of the season after undergoing ACL reconstruction surgery.
- Delon Wright was likely promised regular minutes to get him to commit to the Heat, Winderman adds in the same piece. However, the extent of Wright’s rotation role won’t be clear until Terry Rozier and Josh Richardson return from their current injuries.
- Jaime Jaquez, who jumped over Shaquille O’Neal for his first entry in Saturday’s Dunk Contest, said clearing the Hall of Fame center was a difficult thing to prepare for, per Anthony Chiang of The Miami Herald. “Listen, I ain’t gonna lie. I didn’t practice jumping over Shaq,” Jaquez said. “I used Bam [Adebayo] as practice. But there’s a big height difference. So I was really nervous when I saw Shaq out there. I’ve seen him a bunch of times. But when he’s standing there, I was definitely feeling nervous.”