After LeBron James left in the recent free agency, the Cleveland Cavaliers officially made Kevin Love the new face of the franchise by giving him a massive contract extension. Instead of undergoing a full-scale rebuild, the Cavaliers revealed that they were still planning to defend their title as Eastern Conference champions in the 2018-19 NBA season. Unfortunately, when the season officially started, the Cavaliers didn’t look like the team that went to the NBA Finals in the last four years.
Kevin Love failed to live up to expectations from a franchise player, and to make things more complicated, he’s currently unable to play for the Cavaliers due to injury. On November 2, Love underwent a surgery to rectify a painful big toe injury on his left foot. The Cavaliers initially announced that the 30-year-old power forward will be sidelined for at least several weeks wherein the earliest date he could return is December 14.
However, in a recent appearance on the ESPN’s The Jump, Kevin Love revealed that he could miss more than six weeks. Love said that he could rejoin the Cavaliers in 2019.
“There’s just no telling at this time with the weight-bearing injury what it is going to be like moving forward, but I expect to be back sometime after the new year,” Love said.
— NBC Sports (@NBCSports) November 21, 2018
This is undeniably bad news for the Cavaliers, who is currently sitting in the No. 15 spot in the Eastern Conference with a league-worst record of 2-13. Aside from his injury and return date, Kevin Love also talked about the Cavaliers’ decision to part ways with veteran shooting guard J.R. Smith.
“It is tough to lose a guy like that, when you have been in the trenches with him and you have been to war with him,” Love said, via ESPN. “[Frye and Jefferson] know what JR has meant to this team and this city. He was one of the fan favorites, and he was a guy who played both sides of the ball.”
J.R. Smith has accused the Cavaliers of tanking, saying that the team’s current goal is to develop players and get lottery picks instead of winning. As of now, the Cavaliers haven’t released any statement regarding Smith’s accusation, but if they find themselves out of the playoff picture, there is a strong possibility that the Cavaliers may finally decide to undergo a full-scale rebuild. If they really end up taking a different route, it is highly likely that the Cavaliers will also consider making Kevin Love available on the trade market once he returns from an injury.