The Cleveland Cavaliers 2020-21 campaign has been over for a while now and they’re now looking towards the future. After moving up to land the third pick in the 2021 NBA Draft, Cleveland can now select a franchise-altering talent to guide the team back towards the playoffs. But, to make that happen, we have to evaluate the talent surrounding that draft selection. Whether it’s Jalen Green, Evan Mobley or Jalen Suggs, there has to be a fair and honest analysis on the season their future teammates had last year.
Last time out I wrote about Collin Sexton — one of the more polarizing players on Cleveland’s roster. Today we’ll be talking about a player nearly every Cavs fan has come to have similar feelings about, Kevin Love. After being a key reason for Cleveland winning the 2016 title (check out Secret Base’s video on it!), and signing a mammoth four-year extension, it feels like Love has overstayed his welcome in Cleveland. It’s felt like that since last season when Love allegedly mother fucked general manager Koby Altman and then head coach John Beilein up and down the court and then encouraged them to fine him since they, “pay him enough money.”
But, that was then and this is now. Today we’re going to break down Love’s 2020-21 campaign. He wasn't actively harmful to the growth and development of the young core’s growth and development like Andre Drummond but Love’s presence wasn’t all that impactful. On the year Love only appeared in 25 games and averaged 12.2 points (only above his rookie season) on 40.9% shooting along with 7.4 rebounds (a career-low) and 2.5 assists (not terrible). Love dealt with a nagging Achilles injury all last season that naturally forced the Cavaliers to keep him sidelined. When he was on the floor, the Cavaliers scored 2.3 points per 100 possessions more according to Cleaning the Glass but with how little Love played last season you have to take that statistic with a grain of salt.
What you can’t take with a grain of salt is Love’s body language on the court. During a game against the Toronto Raptors, Love had a meltdown after the referee swallowed their whistle on an obvious foul against Love. Here’s a clip to show you what happened next:
With how bad things have gone for Love lately, this wasn’t a great look. Especially when two games later Love threw another on-court tantrum and refused to shoot the ball against the Washington Wizards. In 22 minutes played, Love had 0 points, 10 rebounds, and 1 assist. To make things worse, a few days later Love made an appearance on Yahoo Sports’ Chris Haynes show and shared that he would love to play with Portland superstar Damian Lillard.
So, to circle back to Love not being actively harmful like Drummond has been to Cleveland’s young core real quick. That point still is technically true. Love does have a positive impact on the team statistically and the idea of Love is also helpful. A veteran forward that can provide floor spacing and championship experience is so helpful for a young and impressionable team.
Like, look at the impact Chris Paul had on the growth of the baby bubble Phoenix Suns, they’re in the NBA Finals now! Or Paul’s impact last season with the Oklahoma City Thunder, they were picked to be dead last in the league and they made the playoffs! Paul, who was in an untenable situation, made the most of a suboptimal situation, raised their overall ceiling and also helped build a culture.
Love hasn't done that in Cleveland since LeBron James left town for a second time and that’s how he’s actively harmful to the Cavs’ young core like Drummond. But, unlike Drummond, Love’s actions mostly come off the floor.
That’s also where Cleveland may run into another roadblock with Love’s tenure. Because of his attitude about his current situation, it’s going to be a tough sell for opposing general managers and owners to take on the remainder of his mammoth contract (two years, $60.2 million). That, and it doesn’t help that Love is in his 30s and constantly injured as well. According to sources, the Cavaliers are going to play Love in a more reduced role next season and cede his minutes to Larry Nance Jr. and possibly Evan Mobley if Cleveland selects him third-overall. Hopefully, that doesn’t blow up in their face like most things with Love have.
All signs probably point to an inevitable buyout but, according to sources, Cleveland is hoping Love’s time with Team USA this summer will revitalize his trade value on the market. Either way, It’s sad since Love was a vital piece to Cleveland’s success during their heyday. But, now that the lights are off and the party’s over, Love is the friend who won’t take a hint and get off your couch and go home. Who knows. According to sources, Love would prefer to join the Brooklyn Nets or Portland Trail Blazers, whether it’s through a trade or a buyout. the marriage between Love and the Cavaliers is going to likely lead to some kind of divorce. They tried to stay together for the kids but the kids are starting to grow up and it’s better to break things up before the toxicity festers any further.