One of the most intriguing off-court storylines of the playoffs: How will an injured Kevin Love watching the Cavaliers compete in the postseason affect his desire to stay with the team?
As Tristan Thompson has shined, some have suggested Cleveland would be better off letting Love walk. That’s a foolish plan, but I’ve wondered how Love views the narrative.
After their Game 1 loss, he sounds even more certain.
Kevin Love, via Ramona Shelburne of ESPN:
“I had so much fun watching it because I want to be in a moment like that,” Love told ESPN after the Cleveland Cavaliers’ 108-100 overtime loss to the Golden State Warriors. “I’d rather be out there helping those guys, and I saw a lot of places where I could help.
“I’ve never wanted to be in a game more than that one,” said Love, who had never been on a playoff team in his six prior NBA seasons.
Asked specifically whether that meant he wanted to be back in Cleveland next season, Love said, “Yes. I want to win.”
Asked why that speculation remains, Love said, “It’s just the way the world works now. People talk so much and might tell themselves a lie so much they start to believe it. From there, the narrative starts to change. I haven’t changed my narrative. I’m going to keep supporting these guys, and we’ll be talking to Cleveland after the season.”
“I just think that they need to realize that I love being here,” Love said. “I don’t know where the misconception came along, but I love this team. I love this organization, and somewhere along the line it went the other way. I think that wholeheartedly they need to realize that I do want to be here. I have fun being here.”
That was in 2013 about the Timberwolves. You know how that turned out.
Love’s public statements – while they mean something – aren’t the most credible on this topic. I don’t think he’d go out of his way to express his desire to stay in Cleveland if he had serious plans about leaving, but I wouldn’t rule that out, either.
The team is in the NBA Finals. He wants to be supportive. That might coincide with his true intentions for the offseason. It might not.
Ultimately, I think it does.
I think Love wants to stay with the Cavaliers.
I also think he should opt out and sign a new contract – whether or not he’s staying in Cleveland.
If he opts out, that will give other teams an opportunity to pitch him. It’s possible he changes his mind then.
The Cavaliers were reportedly concerned about Love bolting. Each time he affirms his commitment to Cleveland, they can worry a little less.
But they shouldn’t let their guard completely down.