Injured Cleveland Cavaliers power forward Kevin Love spoke to the media for the first time since undergoing surgery on his left shoulder, and Love said he expects to be ready to play next season … in a Cavaliers uniform:
Kevin Love on next season: "I truly expect to be suiting up for Game 1." For the Cavs? Love: "Yes, sir."
— Dave McMenamin (@mcten) May 31, 2015
With Love struggling to fit in at times this season and Cleveland reaching the NBA Finals without him, there’s been plenty of speculation that he’ll opt out of his $16.7 million contract for next year and look elsewhere. The Los Angeles Lakers and Boston Celtics are two popular destinations always mentioned, but Love has remained steadfast in saying that he’ll be back with the Cavaliers next year.
Love averaged 16.4 points and 9.7 rebounds this year as a third banana after averaging 26.1 points and 12.5 rebounds in his final season with the Minnesota Timberwolves. His shooting splits also went down from 45.7/37.6/82.1 to 43.4/36.7/80.4.
But while Love suffered a down season, the Cavaliers had a dominant starting lineup with him in it after the key midseason trades. Cleveland’s preferred starting lineup outscored opponents by 19.3 points per 100 possessions in 481 regular-season minutes, per NBA.com. (That group had a 15.8 net rating in 48 postseason minutes.) The Cavaliers went 29-4 in the 33 regular-season games that unit played together and 4-0 in the playoffs.
The emergence of Tristan Thompson in the playoffs has some thinking Cleveland would be just fine losing Love, but make no mistake, the team would be better if both are around moving forward. And right now, it appears that’s the plan, although things can always change.