Regardless of how and when Kevin Love‘s time with the Cleveland Cavaliers comes to an end, I’ll always sympathize with him a little bit.
No player on the roster has received more criticism and scrutiny over the past two years. Love has been labeled a bust, a bad fit, soft, injury prone and many other things during his short tenure in Cleveland. While it appeared this came to an end after he excelled in the first three rounds of last postseason, the harsh critique returned after he struggled in the Finals.
As a result, Love is once again being seen as potential trade bait. We shouldn’t be surprised, really, since that’s been the case for about 98% of his time in a Cavs uniform. Whether the story is about Cleveland making room for Dwyane Wade, adding more than just an inexpensive veteran or just trading for an upgrade in talent, it’s Love’s name which is almost always listed as the one which the team would be ousting.
Whether or not the Cavs are genuinely considering a move of Love is still not clear. For what it’s worth, the front office has said to expect him back on the team next year numerous times. That said, if the team really is thinking about trading him, I would recommend they give this idea a second thought.
Moving Love may sound like a great plan to many Twitter critics, but it’s something the front office needs to be incredibly wary about.
Look, I certainly get why Love gets the heat he does. Until these past playoffs, he very rarely looked like the offensive powerhouse we saw when he was with the Minnesota Timberwolves. His struggles adjusting to his new role have been very apparent to anyone who’s watched Cleveland the past two years.
However, despite all of this, it shouldn’t mean Love is now expendable.
His performance in the Finals is the lasting image everyone has from his 2016 season. Unfortunately, this means his limited scoring and the fact the Cavs won Game 3 without him are the last things on everyone’s mind.
At the same time, why is his performance from the first three rounds so easily forgotten by his skeptics? Why does his play from six games get more attention than how he performed in the previous 14?
For those who don’t recall, Love finally started gelling with the Cavs last postseason. He averaged no less than 15 PPG in each of the first three rounds, including 19 PPG in the Eastern Conference semis. He no longer played tentatively, suddenly looking like he believed he belonged with this team.
Yes, he struggled against the Golden State Warriors. That said, this shouldn’t determine his future in Cleveland.
Love was a core member of the Cavs during their championship run. Evaluating him solely on his performance against Golden State completely ignores this fact. As a result, Cleveland can’t just throw him out on the market to get rid of him for any deal that comes its way.
Look, I get it. By acquiring Kevin Durant, Golden State just became the presumptive 2017 NBA Champion. Cleveland simply running back the same roster likely isn’t enough to topple them should the two teams reunite for another Finals.
At the same time, this doesn’t mean the Cavs should panic-trade Love.
The only instance in which Cleveland could definitely consider moving the scoring forward is if it receives a deal too good to ignore. A cap-space clearer for Wade or a deal for someone like Trevor Ariza doesn’t qualify as this.
Love may have taken a while to adjust with the Cavs, but it did finally take place. Because of this, the team shouldn’t be in any hurry to get rid of him.