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Cleveland’s Kevin Love regrets recent ‘childish’ outbursts during games

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CLEVELAND — Kevin Love knows he should have better handled his recent frustrations.

He was childish.

“I wasn’t acting like a 31-year-old, I was acting like a 13-year-old,” Love said. “That was not me.”

The Cavaliers star forward spoke openly and in depth Tuesday for the first time since an outburst on the bench in Toronto last week and for showing up his teammates and coaches during a loss to Oklahoma City on Saturday.

Love threw his arms up in disgust several times on the floor, fired a hard pass in anger and had his back turned on defense as one of the Thunder’s players streaked past him for a basket.

Also, before that game, Love got into a verbal exchange with general manager Koby Altman because he was angry at being fined for losing his cool against the Raptors on Dec. 31. Love said the situation was overblown in the media and that he and Altman spoke before Sunday’s game against Minnesota and are on good terms.

“I went in there and talked to Koby about it in conversation,” Love said following the morning shootaround as the Cavs prepared to host Detroit. “Came to the arena, Koby and I were great, gave him a (fist) pound right when I came in. There was no altercation, there was no screaming match, you can ask him, that’s what it was.”

Love has been the subject of trade rumors almost since the moment he arrived in Cleveland five years ago, and it’s likely the young and rebuilding Cavs will deal him before the Feb. 6 deadline to add future assets.

Not long after LeBron James left as a free agency following the 2017 season, the Cavs signed Love to a four-year, $120 million contract. They wanted him to be the center piece of their rebuild but things haven’t gone exactly as planned as the team has made a coaching change and move several veteran players.

Love could be next. But he has no regrets about staying with Cleveland.

“No,” he said when asked if he wished he hadn’t signed the deal. “It’s there. Everybody wants to paint a narrative that I didn’t want to be here and just signed it because it was there. No, I’ve always wanted to be here. I don’t know what the next few weeks are going to hold and this has been a frustrating situation and I know this is a team that’s rebuilding and wants to go young.

“I’ve accepted that. Let the chips fall where they may.”

Love has been open in the past about his struggles with anxiety and depression. He’s become a national advocate for mental wellness. The stress of the past two seasons have taken a toll, but he said he’s learning to cope when faced with challenges.

“I think you have to see all sides of it, and I’ve had to take a step back the last number of years and do that as well,” he said. “Seeing things in their entirety when things are bad, when things are kind of not at a place where you want them to be is super hard. I think that transcends the basketball court, professional sports, any walk of life. I think we can all be better.”

Love acknowledged his failings over the past weeks and vowed to learn from them. He’s had a hard time coping with the reality that he’s not going to win another NBA title with Cleveland, but that can’t affect the ways he acts toward teammates, coaches, fans and media members.

He’s a work in progress.

“I’ve been at ease,” he said. “People ask me, `Hey, are you OK?’ and `What’s going on?’ I’m like, I’m good. Listen … I showed my actions on a national level. That was childish of me, and just goes to show you, I’m an unfinished product, like anybody.

“That’s why I speak to you guys not Kevin Love the basketball player, as a human because it’s no B.S. I just want to be authentic. I know I can get a lot better, and that can’t go on here, especially when you have young guys that you are trying to help and I told that I would help.

“So, I got to be a better leader, but also a better person as somebody who has more often than not a majority of the time done the right thing, said the right thing, and shown that I can.”

Jonathan Isaac, Al-Farouq Aminu not expected to be back for Magic when games restart

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Jonathan Isaac was having a breakout season for Orlando. He had become a go-to defensive stopper for the Magic, a long, athletic, switchable defender averaging 2.4 blocks and 1.6 steals a game. He was going to get All-Defensive team votes this season and looked like a future Defensive Player of the Year candidate. (On offense he’s averaged 12 points and 6.9 rebounds a game, both career bests, but he is still a project.)

He hyperextended his knee and suffered a bone bruise in January, but it looks like neither he nor veteran Al-Farouq Aminu (torn meniscus) will be on the court for the Magic when games restart in July, reports Roy Parry of the Orlando Sentinel.

Injured forwards Jonathan Isaac (knee) and Al-Farouq Aminu (knee) most likely will not be healthy enough to return…

“Not a whole lot of news there,” [Magic president of basketball operations Jeff] Weltman said when asked about the possibility of Isaac or Aminu returning. “As always, we’re going to wait and see how they respond to rehab. They’re both working very hard.

“There’s a difference of being healthy and then being safely healthy. It will have been a long, long time since those guys played and you know organizationally that we’re never going to put our guys in a position where they’re exposed to any sort of risk of injury. So that being said, we’ll just continue to see how they progress.”

Put plainly, the risk is not worth the reward. Isaac is a key part of what the Magic want to build in the future and they do not want to push him too hard to return for this handful of games.

Come July, the Magic will head down the street to the Walt Disney World resort complex in Orlando as the eighth seed in the East with a 5.5 game lead over the ninth-seeded Wizards (who will not have John Wall back). If Washington can close that gap to four games or fewer during the eight “seeding games,” then there will be a two-game play-in series between the teams, with the Magic just needing to win one of the two to advance (assuming they are still the eight seed).

After that, it’s on to the first round of the playoffs and the Milwaukee Bucks.

Isaac’s defense would be helpful against Bradley Beal and/or Giannis Antetokounmpo, but the Magic are thinking bigger picture.

Winning percentage will determine final seedings in NBA restart; regular tiebreakers used

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Heading into the NBA’s restart in Orlando, the Trail Blazers are the nine seed in the West, followed by the Pelicans and Kings. All three of those teams are 3.5 games back of Memphis for the eighth seed, however, Portland gets the nine seed because it played two more games than either New Orleans and Sacramento, went 1-1 in those two games, and that gives Portland a slightly better winning percentage (.439 to .438).

That winning percentage matters because it’s how the league will determine seeding in a situation where teams have played a different number of games, reports Tim Bontemps of ESPN.

In practical terms, this may not matter much.

In the West, if Portland and New Orleans both went 8-0 in the seeding games then winning percentage would play a role with the Blazers getting the higher seed. However, that scenario is highly unlikely. More likely is wins and losses in Orlando will decide this and other tiebreakers (New Orleans beat Sacramento in their one head-to-head meeting, but our projected schedule for those teams has them playing twice, so the head-to-head tiebreaker is still up in the air). Because of how the records shake out, tiebreakers are irrelevant to Portland — it will not tie any teams, winning percentage will decide their seed.

In the East, winning percentage is irrelevant for the playoff chase — either Washington gets within four games of Orlando hand forces play-in games for the final playoff spot, or it doesn’t and Orlando is in.

Eight teams not headed to Orlando considering mini-camps, summer games to help players

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Nine months is a long time to go without playing a basketball game.

That’s what the eight teams not going to the NBA season restart in Orlando — Atlanta, Charlotte, Chicago, Cleveland, Detroit, Golden State, Minnesota, and New York — face. And for all of those teams except the Warriors, developing young players to be the future core of the franchise is their goal, and no games from March to December will set that effort back.

Which is why the teams are talking about “mini-camps” — think college spring football — with two teams at least playing each other during those camps, reports Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN.

Among the front-office ideas presented to the NBA, sources said:

• A combination of voluntary and mandatory workouts for two weeks in July.
• Regional minicamps in August that include joint practices for a period of days and approximately three televised games.

Those teams also want other “voluntary” team workouts and to start their training camps for next season earlier than the teams headed to Orlando.

The NBA isn’t going to grant teams everything on their wish list, but there should be some allowance for organized mini-camps and scrimmages/exhibitions. This would be particularly important to New York (and maybe Chicago), where a new coach will be installing a new system and trying to start a new culture.

Those eight teams missed out on 17 or so “meaningless” games with their season put on hold, games that would have meant something in terms of developing young players and giving guys key minutes. The league should — and almost certainly will — take steps to allow those off-season camps and scrimmages, helping teams get their player development programs back on track.

Gregg Popovich’s powerful statement: ‘Our country is in trouble and the basic reason is race’

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As protests continue across the nation — sparked by the killing of George Floyd by a Minneapolis police officer, but really the culmination of decades of systemic and, sometimes, overt racism across the United States — NBA voices have spoken up. Players, coaches, and staff have done more than take to social media, they have participated in and led marches across the nation, and put their money where their mouth is.

One of those voices is Spurs coach Gregg Popovich.

He had spoken to Dave Zirin at The Nation, and on Saturday he released a powerful video statement through the Spurs.

Popovich has been at the forefront of NBA voices willing to speak out on social issues and criticize President Donald Trump. Popovich’s voice carries a lot of weight, both as a leader of men, and as a former Air Force officer who underwent intelligence training and specialized in Soviet studies.

In addition to coaching the San Antonio Spurs, Popovich will coach the USA Basketball team in the Tokyo Olympics, now set for July of 2021.