It all started with this tweet from LeBron James late Saturday night.
That tweet seemed a bit cryptic but it wasn’t too hard to guess it was aimed at Kevin Love. The All-Star big man had struggled to find his offensive footing with the Cavaliers (at least until Sunday when he put up 32 points on 18 shots against the lowly Lakers). If you had any doubts that tweet was aimed at Love, remember Love said this in the preseason (via Dave McMenamin of ESPN):
“I’m comfortable and just not trying to, I guess, fit in so much. I had a talk with the guys on the plane ride over [to Brazil] and also at different practices off the floor and they told me to fit out. Just be myself.”
Since LeBron took a couple weeks off to get his body and mind right, he has come back looking like the best player on the planet again. That, combined with improved defense (thanks to what Timofey Mozgov brings), has the Cavaliers winning 13 of 14. They are starting to find their stride and LeBron wants Love to run with them and fit in. The “fit in” line was not a coincidence.
LeBron admitted as much Sunday, McMenamin reports.
But later, when asked at his locker about the tweet and its relationship to Love’s quote back in October by a small group of reporters after the game, the four-time MVP flashed a revealing smile.
“It’s not a coincidence, man,” James said.
Love still has a ways to go, but he also is committed to the process. While Love can opt out this summer and become a free agent — and he may do that to chase a bigger payday — he is not leaving the Cavaliers. Nobody around the league that I’ve spoken to expects him to bolt this summer.
That “where might he go” speculation makes for a fun message board topic on a fan site, or sports talk radio segment, but the reality is Love isn’t going anywhere short term. What Love wants in terms of exposure and off-the-court opportunities comes with being on the biggest stages in the game — not being in the biggest markets but rather playing in the marquee Christmas Day games, going deep in the playoffs and winning titles. Those things will come with playing next to LeBron in Cleveland far more likely than being part of a rebuilding process in New York or Los Angeles.
Love had the most to sacrifice of Cleveland’s big three to make this work; he’s still adjusting to that both on the court and mentally. Chris Bosh was right before the season when he said it was not going to be easy for Love to get used to playing with Lebron. But what Love wants is in Cleveland and he knows it, he’s not just giving up after one season.
He’s just still trying to figure out how he can fit in.