Kevin Love says he plans to return to Cavaliers lineup next week

Associated Press

The last time Kevin Love was on the court in a Cavaliers uniform, he was playing with Isaiah Thomas, Dwyane Wade, and Jae Crowder. That feels like a lifetime ago, even though we are talking about Jan. 30.

Love has been working out without a cast on as he recovers from a fractured left hand, looking to get back on the court with Larry Nance Jr. (the team’s starting center right now) and the rest of the new Cavaliers cast. That should happen next week, Love told Joe Varden of the Cleveland Plain Dealer.

Kevin Love said he’s looking at a return to the Cavaliers of later next week.

Love, who broke a bone in his left hand on Jan. 30, told he was hopeful to play against Phoenix on March 23. The Cavs play the East-leading Raptors on March 21 and are in Brooklyn March 25. Love was hesitant on a precise target date — as the Cavs play every other day, which limits practice opportunities — but he’s looking at next week.

Cleveland needs him back. The Cavaliers are 5-6 since the All-Star break, with an offense and defense that have both been middle of the pack in the league. They are 2-2 to start off a seven-game road trip and have fallen back to being the four seed in the East. Cleveland’s defense is not a cohesive unit right now, and the more time the regular rotations play together, the better they should be before the playoffs tip off.

Love’s return will put some big questions on Tyronn Lue’s plate. Does he start Love next to Larry Nance Jr.? It’s a front line that would have shooting and athleticism but doesn’t solve any of the defensive issues. The more likely outcome is Love starts and Nance moves to the bench again, bolstering a struggling second unit (especially with Rodney Hood out).