With less than a month until the NBA trade deadline, rumors are in full swing regarding some of the biggest stars in the league. While many of the rumors will amount to nothing, it is always interesting to look at the possibilities. Ever since Kevin Love was traded to the Cleveland Cavaliers on August 23, 2014, in a three-team deal that also involved Andrew Wiggins, he has not exactly produced as originally expected.
So far this season, Love is averaging 15.6 points per game, 10.7 rebounds per game, and is shooting a mediocre 41.2 percent from the field. While these numbers are not terrible, they are all among the lowest of Love’s eight-year career. Add to the fact that Love’s defense is below average and you have both fans and Cavaliers players unhappy with his output. Instead of growing with Wiggins, the Cavaliers now have Love, a player that may not be the right fit to help LeBron James win another championship.
While James is known as a good teammate, he has called Love out in the past for various reasons. According to Cleveland.com, James criticized both Love and Kyrie Irving after Monday’s embarrassing 34-point loss to the Golden State Warriors.
“We’ve got some inexperienced guys that haven’t played enough meaningful basketball games where they can fall back on. When it gets a little tough sometimes, it’s not like they can kind of fall back on previous experiences to try and help them get through it.”
While James was not stellar in the loss, Love played 21 minutes and only scored three points and grabbed six rebounds. Combine the poor offensive effort with the poor defense, and you can see why James is upset with Love. Without Love and Irving last year, James still managed to win two games against the Warriors in the NBA finals. With Love and Irving back, many fans and analysts expected the Cavaliers to be able to compete with the Warriors this year. While it was only a regular season game, Monday night’s blowout loss is a huge concern for a team with championship aspirations.
Last year, James took to his Twitter account to call Love out for his poor play and inability to fit in with the team.
Stop trying to find a way to FIT-OUT and just FIT-IN. Be apart of something special! Just my thoughts
— LeBron James (@KingJames) February 8, 2015
While it came off as passive-aggressive, Love seemed to fit in with the team better for the remainder of the season, so maybe he got LeBron’s message. Since he was injured in the first round of the playoffs against the Boston Celtics, he did not exactly gain a ton of playoff experience.
At this point in the season, the Cavaliers have a record of 28-11, which is good for the top seed in the Eastern Conference. While the Cavaliers have an excellent chance to make it back to the NBA Finals, the season will be a failure unless they can win a championship.
In order to win the NBA Finals, the Cavaliers are probably going to have to defeat the Warriors, a team that just embarrassed them on Monday. With a record of 38-4, the Warriors are better than last year, and even have a chance of breaking the record for the most wins in the history of the NBA.
As reported by SportsGrid, Stephen A. Smith of ESPN received text messages from unnamed league sources stating that Love or head coach David Blatt will have to go if the Cavaliers have any chances of winning a championship.
“I’m telling you what was said to me in the arena last night, whether it was by fans, whether it was by other folks that are officials for both respective teams, or whether it was coaches literally texting me on my phone — because you know I get my text messages — they were literally saying, ‘it’s coming down to one or two scenarios. Either David Blatt is going to have to go, and you’re going to have to get somebody in here who could coach on this level against these NBA coaches, meaning being familiar with what they do and how to combat it, or you’re going to have to get rid of Kevin Love and get somebody in here that can play on both sides of the ball.”
While there is no indication that Love is on the block at the present moment, it is clear at this point that the team is not entirely happy with him. More importantly, LeBron James is not happy with him.
Brett Pollakoff of Fox Sports does not believe the trade rumors that Love will be moved. Pollakoff thinks that trading Love would be admitting that the season is a failure. If the Cavaliers do not win the championship this year, he does believe that the team could move Love in the offseason.
Even though the Cavaliers may not be able to find equal trade value if they decide to move Love, it could be an addition by subtraction situation. Love’s poor defense is clearly not helping, and it could be hurting the team more than his 15.6 points per game is helping.
At 31 years old, James is not going to be the best player in the league forever. With only a few peak years left, this season is extremely important to his legacy. While trading Love might be viewed as throwing away the season to some people, it could be exactly what the Cavaliers need to do in order to have a shot to defeat the Warriors in June. The trade rumors will certainly continue until the February 18 deadline, and there is a chance that either Love or Blatt could be gone.
[Photo by Jason Miller/Getty Images]