When I initially heard about the rumors regarding a Carmelo Anthony-for-Kevin Love trade, I couldn’t help but laugh.
I certainly wasn’t going to deny the former’s talent, nor ignore how badly things have become between him and the New York Knicks. In the right setting, Anthony would provide a lot for the Cleveland Cavaliers. We all know LeBron James would welcome another playmaker, especially if said player was one of his best friends.
But to pick him up in exchange for Love?
Pass. Hard pass.
Look, I know it’s not the middle of winter without having Love be thrown into any and all trade rumors. Such a thing has happened in every season since he came to Cleveland. However, you’re hard-pressed to convince me giving him up to New York for Anthony is a good idea.
Let’s start with an obvious, yet still surprisingly ignored fact – Love is in the middle of his best season as a Cavalier. His PPG, rebounds per game, shooting percentage and three-point percentage are all the highest they’ve been since he joined the team. Most importantly, he no longer looks like a square peg in a round hole, while also finally showing aggression and confidence which was missing in previous seasons.
It’s also important to remember how crucial Love was during last year’s championship run. Though he struggled in the Finals against the Golden State Warriors, he was one of Cleveland’s best players through the majority of the postseason.
You’d think hearing this would be enough to convince people trading Love wouldn’t make sense. But no, there are still enough critics out there who think such a deal should happen.
Looking at the other side of the proposal, yes, Anthony is still an incredibly talented scorer. And, sure, he’s averaging more PPG than Love.
My concern comes from fit. Right now, Love fits in Cleveland, and I’m not sure how Anthony would. The latter would definitely add to the Cavs’ offense, but you also have to consider what he would do to hinder it.
As great as Anthony is, one of his biggest red flags also happens to be one of Cleveland’s worst habits – stopping the ball.
The Cavs seem to struggle most when the offense turns into isolation basketball. Look at what happened last night against the Minnesota Timberwolves, where Cleveland set a season high in assists and ran its opponent out of the gym. When the Cavs instead begin shying away from the concept of passing – like, say, in their demolishing at the hands of the Warriors a few weeks ago – things take a different direction.
How would adding Anthony, who’s notorious for hijacking an offense, who’s own front office (well, Phil Jackson) is publicly claiming he doesn’t pass enough, fix Cleveland’s tendency to stop ball movement? How does an offense which thrives when racking up assists improve when adding someone who isn’t the world’s biggest fan of that statistic?
Again, no disrespect to Anthony as a player. I just think those criticizing the Cavs for turning this specific trade down need to look at the deal holistically.
Love is younger, fits well within Cleveland’s offensive scheme and is a huge contributor when it comes to rebounds. Anthony is four years older, could disrupt the flow of the game for the Cavs, happens to play the same position as James and is two years removed from a major knee surgery.
As I said, you need to look at the big picture with this proposed deal.
For what it’s worth, despite being rejected upon first offering an Anthony-for-Love swap, New York is reportedly still trying to sell the idea to Cleveland. While the Cavs do have interest in Anthony, they’re holding strong on their refusal to include Love in any trade.
Here’s hoping things stay that way. The Cavs could use another playmaker, but not at the expense of giving one of their own away.
Casey Drottar is an independent sports writer. Follow him on Twitter or Facebook
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