Kyrie Irving has been shipped out of town and the Cavaliers looking at being without their new starting point guard, Isiaah Thomas, for an unforeseen period of time.
With that, it’s time for the Cavaliers to fall back on one of their well-established offseason rallying points: getting Kevin Love more involved in the offense. And this time, the Cavs mean it!
ESPN’s Zach Lowe is reporting that the Cavaliers are re-designing their offense around Kevin Love, and Tyronn Lue says Love will have his best season as a member of the team.
They are confident Minnesota Love still exists, and they are re-designing their offense — and potentially their rotation, featuring more of Love at center — to unleash him again.
“Kevin is going to have the best year that he’s had here,” Tyronn Lue, Cleveland’s coach, told ESPN.com this week. “I thought he was great anyway. You keep bringing up Bosh. What did Bosh average in Miami? Kevin averaged almost 20 [points] and 10 [rebounds] with two other All-Stars. If you are on a championship-caliber team, you have to sacrifice. But this year is going to be a big opportunity for him. We’re going to play through him more. He’s going to get those elbow touches again.”
As is often the case with the team’s tough talk about getting Love more involved, it’s probably wise to take it with a grain of salt. Even when Irving’s been out, the team hasn’t gotten Love the elbow touches they’ve promised him, and the reality is that this is still a team whose offense is built around the singular talents of LeBron James.
Love’s personally optimal skillset, one that primarily revolves around him holding the ball at the elbow, finding cutters and flowing from one spot on the floor to the other, is antithetical to what the Cavaliers do with LeBron. It’s really hard to run one kind of offense when James plays and then do something completely different when he sits for 11 minutes a game.
As a result, previous forays into including Love more have felt forced and jilted while sometimes breaking the rhythm of the offense. The best NBA offenses flow with multiple options and reads. Teams can tell when the Cavaliers are running the “Let’s let Kevin have his turn” play, and it hasn’t been optimal.
If the Cavaliers truly want to fully ingratiate Love into the offense, it will mean LeBron will have to cede some control, something he’s not been super into the idea of doing. In fairness to him, that might be right! What’s best for Love’s personal game isn’t necessarily what’s best for the Cavs offense, and it’s not like Cleveland has struggled to score in years past.
With that said, more minutes at center for Love always seemed to be a logical choice given how jam-packed the Cavs rotation is going to be, especially if they add Dwyane Wade as a midseason buyout. Tyronn Lue has never run a 10-man rotation, and with Jae Crowder needing to spend a significant amount of time at the four given how little minutes there are at the backup small forward spot, Love will need to find minutes elsewhere.
That makes Channing Frye the eventual odd-man out of the rotation, but the Cavaliers are really, really good with Love at center, especially in the playoffs when LeBron is more active defensively and as a rim protector. A change that finds more minutes for him there is welcome and doesn’t really require a paradigm shift in how the team plays.
While the idea of building more Love-centric sets into the offense sounds great and would be fascinating to watch, the Cavs will have to forgive me when I say that I’ll believe it when I see it.