Cavaliers, NBA blew handling of Kevin Love’s potential concussion

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Kevin Love got elbowed in the head. The Cavaliers say that didn’t cause them to suspect he suffered a concussion.

Love immediately grabbed his head in pain. The Cavaliers say that didn’t cause them to suspect he suffered a concussion.

Love fell to the floor and lay there for an extended period while still clutching his head. The Cavaliers say that didn’t cause them to suspect he suffered a concussion.

Love, according to Cleveland coach Tyronn Lue, “looked kind of woozy” in a later timeout. The Cavaliers say that didn’t cause them to suspect he suffered a concussion.

Take it in aggregate: Love got elbowed in the head, immediately grabbed his head in pain, fell to the floor, lay there for an extended period while still clutching his head and then, according to his own coach, “looked kind of woozy” in a later timeout.

No suspicion.

It’s unbelievably negligent or plain unbelievable.

Maybe Love was concussed. Maybe he wasn’t. That determination needn’t be made immediately after Harrison Barnes‘ elbow floored the Cleveland forward in the second quarter of Game 2 last night.

The first step is determining whether a player is suspected of having a concussion or shows any signs or symptoms of having one. Per the NBA’s concussion protocol:

If a player is suspected of having a concussion, or exhibits the signs or symptoms of concussion, he will be removed from participation and undergo evaluation by the medical staff in a quiet, distraction-free environment conducive to conducting a neurological evaluation.

Love remained in the court area, on the floor and on the bench, during the timeout followed his injury. That is not a “quiet, distraction-free environment conducive to conducting a neurological evaluation.”

Of course, the Cavs are incentivized not to suspect Love suffered a concussion. Even the suspicion would pull him from a crucial game for at least a few minutes.

This is a problem with sports culture and the NBA’s guidelines can’t magically fix it.

In fact, I don’t believe the guidelines go far enough to protect players. Anyone who requires testing for a concussion shouldn’t be permitted to return to play that day. Delayed symptoms are just too common. (The current rule bans only players diagnosed with a concussion from returning that day or the next.)

Unfortunately, that’d only further incentivize teams to ignore potential concussions. Players who should be at least tested could be ignored so as not to automatically end their game.

Yet, as lenient as the rules are now, Cleveland didn’t even follow them.

Lue said Love showed no symptoms at halftime – as if that’s highly meaningful. Love experiencing delayed symptoms is quite normal for a concussed person. That’s why continued monitoring is necessary after dangerous-looking hits to the head.

And Lue did continue to monitor.

Love started the second half, playing 1:55 until a timeout brought him back to Cleveland’s bench.

“I could see in a timeout he looked kind of woozy,” Lue said.

Lue left Love in the game, and Love played 11 more seconds before exiting for good. Thankfully, 11 seconds are a short window, and nothing catastrophic happened. But if he thought Love looked woozy, Lue should have immediately pulled Love from the game.

Why does all this matter? Dr. Ben Wedro of the DocTalk blog on MDDirect.org, addressed it last year when discussing a similar situation involving Klay Thompson:

“The concern is something called second-impact syndrome,” Wedro said. “And that says that, if you have a brain that is concussed and has not healed, it may not be able to protect itself against a second injury as well, and you can get swelling of the brain that spins out of control and people die. This is a rare situation. Some people believe it does not exist. Other people do. But that’s the concern – that if you stack concussions, that disaster can happen.”

There is no perfect method for preventing players from playing through concussions. Players can suffer concussions without getting hit in the head. If that happens, and he shows no immediate symptoms, how can you suspect to pull him from the game?

But removing someone who got elbowed in the head, immediately grabbed his head in pain, fell to the floor, lay there for an extended period while still clutching his head and then, according to his own coach, “looked kind of woozy” in a later timeout? That’s the bare minimum.

Love’s dizziness in the early third quarter sent him to the locker room, where he was finally given a proper assessment for a concussion. The Cavs then put him in the concussion protocol.

The Cavaliers say they handled this correctly. The NBA concurs.

I’m just curious what a player must do to arouse suspicion of a concussion if someone who got elbowed in the head, immediately grabbed his head in pain, fell to the floor, lay there for an extended period while still clutching his head and then, according to his own coach, “looked kind of woozy” in a later timeout doesn’t qualify.

Rumor: LeBron James suggested Cavaliers trade Kyrie Irving to Trail Blazers for Damian Lillard

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When Kyrie Irving requested a trade from the Cavaliers last year, LeBron James told the Cavs not to trade the disgruntled star. But LeBron also made no effort to win over Irving.

If that weren’t unhelpful enough…

Ric Bucher of Bleacher Report:

League sources say that when James became convinced Irving couldn’t be persuaded to stay in Cleveland, he suggested to the Cavs front office that it deal Irving to the Blazers for All-Star point guard Damian Lillard. The Cavs never called the Blazers

Of course LeBron wanted Lillard. Lillard is very good, even better than Irving.

But that deal probably wouldn’t appeal to the Trail Blazers. Though Irving is younger and cheaper, Lillard is locked up two additional seasons. That greater team control is huge.

Perhaps, the Cavs could have bridged the gap in Irving’s and Lillard’s values by sending draft picks to and/or taking bad contracts from Portland. LeBron left Cleveland for the Lakers after last season, anyway. Long-term issues like lost picks and toxic contracts weren’t necessarily his problem. It’s more understandable the Cavaliers resisted.*

*However, a team with an all-time great like LeBron in his problem should have been more committed to winning a title last season than they were. Those opportunities come along only so often.

What makes this particularly interesting: The Lakers are trying to get another star. Does LeBron still want to play with Lillard? The Trail Blazers insist they’re keeping Lillard, and he has repeatedly said he wants to stay in Portland. But LeBron wanting Lillard in Los Angeles could be the seed that grows into something bigger.

Report: Knicks have held no internal discussions about trading for John Wall

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A rumor emerged the Knicks could be looking to trade for Wizards point guard John Wall.

That always seemed dubious. Marc Berman of the New York Post cited “Some in the league believe.”

But now comes the counter-leak, anyway…

Ian Begley of ESPN:

This is an overcorrection that only makes the Knicks look worse. Not internally discussing a trade candidate does not inspire confidence. Sound organizations evaluate their options. The Knicks should discuss Wall internally.

They should also likely conclude it’s not worth trading for him.

Wall is due about $171 million over the next four seasons. He’ll be 29 when that super-max contract extension kicks in, and he already looks hurt, lazy and grouchy.

Maybe if the Knicks still had Joakim Noah to trade, it might makes sense, though still probably not. As is, New York doesn’t have enough bad contracts to match Wall’s toxic del.

So, I don’t expect New York – or anyone – to trade for Wall. But I’d be more encouraged by the Knicks if they internally discussed this then passed on Wall. If we’re to believe this latest leak,* who knows what they’ll decide if they ever talk about Wall?

*Which I don’t, for what it’s worth. I suspect even the Knicks at least discussed why trading for Wall was a bad idea.

Nuggets sign Nick Young

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The Nuggets’ have so many injured backcourt playersJamal Murray, Gary Harris, Will Barton and Isaiah Thomas (plus forwards Paul Millsap, Michael Porter, Jarred Vanderbilt are also hurt).

Denver is adding a reinforcement – Nick Young.

Nuggets:

Young has had a rough go since winning a championship with the Warriors last season. The 33-year-old is probably on his last legs as an NBA player.

But Denver needs someone. Young might still be serviceable. He can make 3-pointers, though he defends like a sieve and doesn’t contribute much else offensively. With the ball running through Nikola Jokic, maybe that will be enough – until better Nuggets get healthy.

Stephen Curry: I don’t believe we went to the moon

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Kyrie Irving‘s first public flat-Earth comments came on a light-hearted podcast.

Will Stephen Curry also become notorious for his conspiracy theory, revealed on a light-hearted podcast?

The Warriors star appeared on “Winging It” with Vince Carter, Kent Bazemore and Andre Iguodala. The conversation:

  • Curry: “We ever been to the moon?
  • Multiple responders: “Nope.”
  • Curry: “They’re gonna come get us. I don’t think so, either.”

Podcast co-host Annie Finberg asked whether Curry actually believed that. He responded affirmatively.

Still, Irving immediately doubled down outside the podcast – then tripled down and quadrupled down and… This hasn’t gotten away from Curry in the same way. He could still easily explain he was joking during the podcast.

Or he could stick with his conspiracy theory. I don’t know what he actually believes.

For what it’s worth, I believe we went to the moon. So many people would have to know if the moon landing were faked, and there’s no way they’d all keep it secret.