Things appear to have reached a boiling point for Kevin Love and the Cleveland Cavaliers as the former All Star reportedly had an outburst directed at Koby Altman on Saturday.
Over the last few weeks the body language of Love has not been great. He often can be seen reacting poorly to things not going his way on the court.
According to Shams Charania of The Athletic, Love was fined $1,000 for his most recent outburst against the Raptors:
Kevin Love was fined $1,000 by the Cavs for this outburst on the bench, per @ShamsCharania— NBA Central (@TheNBACentral) January 5, 2020
Kevin Love reportedly told Cavs GM Koby Altman, “Go ahead. I have plenty of money.” after Altman threatened to fine him last season after a similar outburst.
The fine, while small, appears to have turned into a launching point for Love and Altman. It’s probably less likely that the fine would have occurred if the incident wasn’t recorded and put on social media, but the issues go beyond this one fine.
According to Charania, this was the second time Love and Altman have had a verbal altercation. Love reportedly had been upset at Altman at the end of last season, at which point Altman threatened to fine him.
It’s possible that Love’s extension last season was signed with the understanding that the team would try to move him. Or perhaps Love truly bought in to the Cavs trying to contend for the playoffs.
Either way, Love hurt his foot at the start of the season and eventually needed surgery that held him out until February. At that point there was no decision to be made, the team was going to lose games. With Love inked to a new deal and out essentially until the deadline, any trade would have been untenable.
To Love’s credit, he was largely engaged last season. Despite being in a suit, he was a good teammate and was often seen coaching players on the bench. However being directly involved in the losing is a totally different animal and it is clear that his patience has run thin.
It’s no secret that Love and other veteran players have been frustrated playing alongside Collin Sexton. Sexton was the subject of Tristan Thompson’s tirade during a win over the Spurs, multiple veterans spoke out against him last season, and Love can be seen on a nightly basis acting out when the young guard scraps the play call and looks for his own shot.
But young guards struggling to learn how to play team basketball isn’t a new phenomenon in the NBA and the reaction of Love and other veterans hasn’t been a good look. While Sexton has seemed like the primary cause of the frustration, there have been other instances of Love being frustrated with Darius Garland, Cedi Osman and Kevin Porter Jr.
Channing Frye took to Twitter last night and probably provided the most telling insight into the situation. There were many tweets, but the majority of them were pretty clearly directed to Sexton and him receiving too much responsibility too early into his career.
The leader of that team is who the upper management believes in. Obviously it’s not Kevin. https://t.co/DTcXtasPT5— Channing Frye (@channingfrye) January 5, 2020
If that was the case would ALL the vets on the team be so upset? https://t.co/aLyOoPWlQc— Channing Frye (@channingfrye) January 5, 2020
Love addressed all the conversation surrounding his relationship with Sexton on Instagram after the game. Saying that he loves his teammates and the talk is all noise.
The reality is that there’s probably truth in both sides of the story. I’m sure Love and Sexton do not hate each other, and may even get along off the court. But it’s clear that once they step on the court frustration seems to get the better of Love. Frustration that likely goes beyond Sexton, but isn’t helped by his presence.
The decision to extend Love was a controversial one. However this appears to have been the worst case scenario for Love and for the team. His injury last season, stacked on top of his injury history, has left the team in a situation where he will have to play in order for them to get value that they are comfortable with in return.
At this point we are a month away from the deadline and the situation is getting toxic. It may be best for the Cavs to wait until the deadline and take whatever the best offer is at that point. As long as they are not giving away assets to move him, it likely will be worthwhile at that point. If that deal is not available, they may need to consider sending Love home the way they did with J.R. Smith and try again this summer.
Love will not play Sunday night against the Minnesota Timberwolves. While the team has said in the past that they will rest Love during some back to backs, I’m sure emotions running high from this situation made the decision easier.