The NBA trade rumors surrounding Kevin Love have quieted dramatically, with the Cleveland Cavaliers big man taking a larger role under new coach Tyronn Lue and presumably staying with the Eastern Conference power.
Love was mostly lost under former coach David Blatt, often camping outside the three-point line and playing a lesser role in the offense. Under Blatt, Love was also unable to play to the strengths of his low-post game and interior passing.
Number Fire broke down Love’s performance during his now-former coach’s tenure.
“In the first 41 games of the season, under former head coach David Blatt, Love prospered. Without Kyrie Irving for 26 of those games, Love was the clear number two option for Cleveland, and even with Irving’s return, Love posted a Usage Rate of 23.2% — up 1.5% from a year ago.
“How exactly was Love used though?
“According to NBA.com, of his 37.5 frontcourt touches per game, Love received 3.8 of those at the elbow, 5.0 in the post and 3.4 in the paint. Though he averaged over five three-point attempts per game, Love took more twos than threes, in large part due to his offensive activity around the key. In fact, he averaged 2.7 makes on 5.2 attempts from within 10 feet, making up 41.4% of his overall attempts.
“During this timespan Love averaged 15.7 points on 41.3% shooting from the floor and 36.7% from beyond the arc. In addition to his scoring output, Love was also producing 11 boards per contest.”
The prevailing idea before Lue took over for Blatt was that the Cavaliers were not getting enough of an offensive return from Love to make up for his suspect defense. He was involved in a number of trade rumors, including a recent one claiming the Cavaliers were going to (somehow) swap him to the Houston Rockets for Dwight Howard.
The firing of Blatt and ascension of Lue changed a lot. Many believed the Cavaliers would give Love a chance to adjust to Lue’s system, and he certainly has. Love’s field goal percentage and points per game are both up now that he’s back to his bread and butter in the low post.
— Bleacher Report (@BleacherReport) February 3, 2016
Kevin Love’s stats have improved since the Cavaliers’ coaching change pic.twitter.com/xV17YQLgLC
— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) February 2, 2016
General manager David Griffin also told ESPN 850-AM that the Cavs were planning to keep Love on the roster.
“You’d have to go a long way to convince me that we’re a better team winning in the Finals without a player like Kevin on our team,” Griffin told ESPN 850-AM in Cleveland. “We’ve never once put together an offer involving Kevin, nor have we taken a call on an offer for Kevin.
“We think very highly of Kevin, and we believe Kevin thinks very highly of this situation…. But I can also tell you that we have been very clear from the beginning that there’s no such thing as untouchables.”
Even with all the indications pointing toward Kevin Love staying in Cleveland, there are still plenty of NBA trade rumors swirling. SB Nation looked at the idea of Love staying in the division by way of a trade with the Detroit Pistons.
“Beyond the current roster, it’s time to think about how the Pistons can add a superstar. Jordan and Jacob each have a trade to propose to Ben. What would it take to bring Kevin Love to Detroit? Is he even available? Jordan gets on his soapbox about the Cleveland Cavaliers, hoping better things for Mr. Love.”
He seems safe for now, but given the nature of the NBA trade rumors, it’s likely that Kevin Love will be surrounded by uncertainty until the deadline passes.
[Picture by Christian Petersen/Getty Images]