When the Cleveland Cavaliers officially traded Andrew Wiggins to the Minnesota Timberwolves for Kevin Love back in August of 2014, there were a number of reasons to be excited, and ultimately, it was unquestionably worth it. But every day that passes, that feeling of excitement feels further and further away. Now, the excitement has turned to dread, and disdain doesn’t seem too far down the road.
When the Cavaliers inked Kevin Love to a mega-extension after the second departure of LeBron James, it was a move that was questionable, at the time, for both sides. Yes, there were positives that could come out of it.
For Love, it gave him long term security financially, and he thought a chance to be part of a team that intended to compete for the playoffs in the coming years. We now know that only one of those things is true.
For the Cavaliers, it gave the organization an ability to hold on to at least a bit of the historically great era that the franchise was leaving in the past, the chance to still have an All-Star to build around, and, if nothing else, the hope that Love would be a moveable asset as his contract came to a close. None of those things have come true. Not even close.
What the Love story should be now is a future Hall of Fame player that’s likely to have his jersey hung in the rafters has helped the franchise emerge from dark days, and done so as a leader, the proverbial adult in the room filled with youngsters. Instead, it appears that he’s been the opposite of those things.
Don’t get this twisted, Love will likely end up in the Basketball Hall of Fame and have his number retired in Cleveland. Love deserves and has earned both of those things.
But what’s happened this year on Love’s end has been inexcusable, and it never seems to stop, but instead gets worse with the next incident being just as jarring as the last. Recently, Love has thrown an on-court temper tantrum and told Chris Haynes that he would love to play for the Portland Trail Blazers — his hometown team- — on Haynes’ podcast. Lest we not forget the other issues that have been reported, including the one where he got into a scream match with Cavs general manager Koby Altman and ended it by telling Altman fining him would do nothing, mostly because of the rich contract extension Love agreed to.
These events appear to have one common denominator, but in actuality, there’s a second as well. Love’s behavior with the Cavaliers has been childish and disappointing. The saying goes that if you either die a hero — in this case we will say leave Cleveland in good standing, because hey this is basketball and not an actual life-or-death situation — or you live long enough to see yourself become the villain. Now, it’s without question that Love status as Cleveland hero has changed in the minds of many, to the villain of the Cavs.
Obviously, Love is the root of this, and deserves the bulk of the blame. But he doesn’t deserve the entirety the blame. His behavior has gone unchecked publicly by the organization. Any sort of punishment that happens for one of Love’s outburst is always handled behind closed doors. In theory, that’s fine. It’s often better to keep things in house. But in this case, everything that has been done in house hasn’t been enough. There’s been no public accountability for anything that’s happened.
We very rarely hear from Altman. And in today’s Zoom media age, Love wasn’t made available following the childish display against Toronto, leaving head coach J.B. Bickerstaff and Darius Garland to answer for his actions, which isn’t the least bit fair to those guys. If the team is going to stand its ground on situations involving Kevin Porter Jr., and Andre Drummond in the name of building a good culture, it needs to do the same with Love.
It doesn’t take the most clued-in reporter to figure out that Love is unhappy with the organization and has been for some time – but shoutout to the reporters that are clued in and do legitimately good reporting. The next move is a curious one, because unless Love decides that he’s really had enough and is willing to accept a buyout at a massive discount, it’s hard to see another team trading for him right now, even if he does want to play with Lillard and the Portland Trail Blazers.
Whatever conclusion this frustrating marriage eventually comes to, hopefully there’s some accountability along the way, even if it is a shame to see a one-time hero become the current villain.