The Cleveland Cavaliers have won their last two games and the scheme of things seems to be improving on the court. However, off the court, different individual agendas are still being reported, which led some NBA analysts to believe that a major trade is looming with less than two weeks to go before the trade deadline.
LeBron James is becoming a free agent this summer and several teams (the Los Angeles Lakers, Houston Rockets, and San Antonio Spurs to name a few) are said to be interested in offering him a deal. The Cavaliers are reportedly preparing for any eventuality and would like to keep the 2018 Brooklyn pick, a highly valuable trade asset unless they are sure LeBron is going to stay.
Isaiah Thomas is also entering unrestricted free agency, and there are rumors that he has been trying hard to pad his stats just to get the kind of numbers worthy of a max contract. ESPN analyst Brian Windhorst said that Thomas is “frustrating his teammates” because of that mindset, while he still cannot get it done on offense by shooting only 39.3 percent from the field, the lowest in his eight-year career.
And then there is Kevin Love. ESPN‘s Adrian Wojnarowski reported last week that several Cavaliers players have “challenged the legitimacy” of Love’s supposed illness in their 148-124 loss to the Oklahoma City Thunder on January 20. Love left the game and the arena scoreless after playing the opening three minutes, claiming an unspecified illness.
Since then, a rumored rift between Love and Thomas has emerged, with Yahoo! Sports’ Dan Feldman saying that Thomas “reportedly led the charge against Love (with regards to the in-game departure and missed practice the following morning) during a recent team meeting.”
With all of this internal drama, another ESPN analyst, Stephen A. Smith, said that the Cavaliers “should trade Kevin Love.”
— First Take (@FirstTake) January 23, 2018
Recently, Jason McIntyre of The Big Lead cited a Zach Lowe podcast where Windhorst suggested that the Cavaliers should offer Love to the Portland Trail Blazers for shooting guard C.J. McCollum. There are also rumors that the Blazers are planning to break up their backcourt tandem of McCollum and Damian Lillard soon and that between the two, the former would be the one to go.
The New York Times’ Marc Stein disclosed that Portland is intending to balance their roster from being too guard-heavy by “parting with one of their two guards” and that it would “most likely” be McCollum. Stein clarified that it might not happen prior to the February 8 deadline, but speculations abound of McCollum’s potential landing spots before then.
Love spent his high school basketball career in Lake Oswego, Oregon and playing in Portland would be a homecoming of some sort. McIntyre said that the five-time NBA All-Star would help improve the Blazers in terms of three-pointers attempted as the team is currently in the bottom 10 of the league in that category.
However, McIntyre noted that the Love-McCollum swap would be a “home run” for the Cavaliers as the team would get to upgrade “one of the weakest backcourts in the NBA.” McCollum is also considered as a legitimate first or second scoring option with Thomas moving forward should LeBron decide to leave in the summer.