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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.”

Short offseason, uncertain financial outlook may mean fewer coaches fired

76ers coach Brett Brown
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Already this season, Kenny Atkinson was out in Brooklyn, the New York Knicks fired coach David Fizdale, and John Beilein was shown the door in Cleveland (with J.B. Bickerstaff hired to replace him). That was just the tip of the iceberg in expected NBA coaching changes this offseason, the buzz around the league was between four and up to 10 more coaches would be fired.

Then the coronavirus pandemic hit.

Now those same teams are looking at a shortened offseason, while at the same time the owners have taken a financial hit and aren’t thrilled about the idea of paying two coaches at once, and suddenly it looks like a lot more coaches are safe. Brian Windhorst and Tim Bontemps touched on that in their story about next season at ESPN.

After much chatter before the stoppage of changes in the coaching ranks, several league executives told ESPN that teams might be more likely to hang on to coaching staffs longer than planned to avoid paying out millions to coaches fired in current market conditions.

A lot front office sources around the NBA are speculating about the same thing.

Expect a few changes. Mike D’Antoni’s contract is up in Houston and few around the league expect him to return next season. Jim Boylen is considered the walking dead in Chicago where there is a new front-office regime. New York and Brooklyn still have to hire their guys.

However, other guys considered almost certainly gone — Brett Brown in Philadelphia or Scott Brooks in Washington, for example — may keep their gig another year because of the uncertain waters of the NBA right now. Maybe not, there could be firings, but don’t expect the tidal wave of coaching changes to wash over the NBA that everyone expected back in February.

Teams forced into difficult choices to trim traveling parties for restart

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ASSOCIATED PRESS — The 22 teams participating in the NBA restart were all at the Disney campus together for the first time Friday.

None of them, however, made it to the Orlando, Florida, area with their usual travel party.

Leaving families behind for several weeks — or maybe even three months, depending on how deep a team goes in the playoffs — during a pandemic isn’t the only hardship that teams are dealing with during this restart. Space limitations within the quasi-bubble at Disney also meant that teams had to cut their official traveling parties down to 37, including players, so many people who usually travel with a club aren’t on this trip.

“We’re not able to take everybody — and that stinks, because of the amount of work that they all put in every single day,” Boston coach Brad Stevens said. “We’ve tried to identify how to be the most efficient we can be with people that can be excellent remotely as well. I think that that’s one of the things that we’ve had to identify. In some cases, their excellence remotely probably hurt their chances of going initially.”

It’s expected that as the bubble population shrinks after six teams are eliminated from playoff contention and then eight more are ousted in the first postseason round, teams will be allowed to bring in more staff.

But until then, while teams are playing games on-site at Disney, there will be plenty of work done back in home markets and home arenas as well. Some teams left player development coaches behind, some even left assistant coaches, and all teams traveled with only one media relations staffer and one equipment manager. In normal circumstances, some teams travel with as many as three people to handle media requirements and two for equipment.

“You know, it’s tough,” Orlando President of Basketball Operations Jeff Weltman said. “We kind of shied away from some of the language that was being thrown around — the whole idea of essential (staff) and non-essential (staff). It’s not about that. This is a very narrowly defined circumstance, and it requires certain skill sets to address this circumstance.”

Players counted against the list of 37, and most teams brought the full complement of 17 players. That left 20 spots for coaches, assistant coaches, player development, video, security, strength and conditioning, athletic training, media relations and content creators.

Miami coach Erik Spoelstra said the process of figuring out who goes and who doesn’t was brutal.

“We already have had a model of everybody sharing responsibilities,” Spoelstra said. “We already had a meeting about this where there’s an absolute understanding that this is an ‘all hands on deck’ situation. And that means bags, laundry, cleanup, everything … that’s not just for equipment managers, that’s everybody — coaches, trainers, weight room staff, head coach, coaches, we’re all going to be involved in every aspect of it.”

Oklahoma City coach Billy Donovan also expressed disappointment that tough decisions had to be made on the staffing end.

He completely understands the NBA perspective. Keeping the number of people in the bubble manageable is a key part of the NBA’s plan for being able to finish the season; the more people in the bubble, the more risk there is of something going wrong.

“Everybody deserves the opportunity, but for the safety of the league and the players we can’t do that,” Donovan said. “So, what we’ve got to do is understand, whether it’s myself or assistant coaches, we may have to be setting up video equipment, we may have to have one of our coaches filming practice in Orlando. There’s things that we’re going to have to do that are going to be outside the box that will normally been taken care of.”

Chris Paul playing cornhole. Luka Doncic trick shots. Welcome to life in the NBA bubble.

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Teams have emerged from quarantine in the Walt Disney World campus in Orlando, getting some run in on the court, and are starting to explore life in the NBA bubble.

Then they are documenting it on social media.

For example, Chris Paul and Darius Bazley played some cornhole.

Dallas’ Luka Doncic was hitting trick shots on the court.

Then Doncic and Boban Marjanovic were doing Disney Channel ads.

Complaints about the food by players have died down, in part because they are out of quarantine and get a choice of restaurants, in part because they saw the backlash and realized the complaints looked elitist. Or maybe it’s just the Mickey pancakes.

Everyone is out and exploring the campus and having fun…

Well, except for Robin Lopez, who sees no reason to leave his room.

Zion Williamson “just went back to square one” with quarantine workouts

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Zion Williamson looks cut — like he spent the entire quarantine doing workouts — and ready to be a force at the NBA restart in Orlando.

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Built for this 💪

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What workouts did Zion Williamson do during the break to get that look? He took everything back down to step one and built it up again working out with his stepfather Lee Anderson, Williamson told reporters on Friday (hat tip Andrew Lopez of ESPN):

“It just felt like I was 5 years old again,” Williamson said Friday. “Just went back to square one, tried to get my body where it needs to be, get my fundamentals back to square one and start from there. So yeah, it was just like starting over at 5 again. It was a great process to learn it all over.”

Williamson did a little more than that. He also had approval from the league to go to the Pelicans practice facility throughout the quarantine and get treatment on his knee, the one that kept him out the first 45 games of the season. So he stayed healthy.

He also worked on other aspects of this game, such as his jump shot. Williamson took 76.7% of his shot attempts at the rim this season, and while getting to the rim is critical to his game, he’s going to have confidence in his shot and knock down jumpers to reach higher levels in the league.

The Pelicans enter the bubble 3.5 games back of Memphis for the eighth seed in the West, and with the softest schedule of any team in Orlando (matching their schedule before the interruption), they have a legitimate chance of forcing a two-game play-in series. It’s not easy, but there is a path to the playoffs for New Orleans (setting up a Zion vs. LeBron James first-round showdown that league broadcast partners are drooling over).

A stronger, improved Zion could help get the Pelicans there.