Kevin Love wants to play for a contender or the Trail Blazers. Instead, he’s stuck on the Cavaliers (because he took a giant contract extension, so don’t feel too badly for him).
Love’s discontent was particularly evident during Cleveland’s loss to the Thunder on Saturday. Late in the second quarter, Love raised his arms in frustration in the paint, marched toward Collin Sexton dribbling near halfcourt, demanded the ball from Sexton and whipped a pass at Cedi Osman.
As attention swirled around the play, Love posted to Instagram that he loves his teammates and highlighted a photo of him wrapping his arm around Sexton. Love also called out the “non truths” being shared.
How could Love say all that after seemingly trying to show up Sexton?
Maybe because he was actually trying to show up Cavs coach John Beilein.
Love, via Chris Fedor of Cleveland.com:
“I think you’re talking about the play with Chris Paul on me. Yeah, I felt we were making a play call and at the end of the second half we were in the bonus and I had Chris Paul on me,” Love said after the 121-106 loss. “Felt swing it to me and try to throw it in the post, see if they double-team me and get a shot out of that, but that’s not what we did. Yeah, I was frustrated.”
OK, great. So, Love is upset with just his coach and general manager – not his teammates. No problems there.
Except Love also frequently appears upset with his teammates. Even if this wasn’t an example, Love’s body language toward Sexton in particular often seems poor.
Playing with Sexton can be frustrating. He’s a ball-dominant youngster with tunnel vision. Cavaliers veterans – including Love – have made little effort to hide their displeasure.
So, forgive anyone who thought Sexton was the root of Love’s outburst Saturday.
Rather than let speculation into Love’s source(s) of anger continue, Beilein just took responsibility. Beilein, via Fedor:
“That was my mistake,” Beilein said. “I was trying to get us to slow down and try to get, not the last shot, but close to the last shot. He had Chris Paul posted up and I didn’t see it. It was on me. I called something else.”
Beilein is probably wise not to pick a public fight with Love. The coach already has enough problems.
But this didn’t look like a ridiculously wrong coaching decision.
Love casually walked into the paint. He made no effort to seal Paul and create a lane to receive an entry pass. If he wanted a post touch so badly, Love didn’t show much desire.
Even if he had, it wouldn’t have necessarily been a good play.
Of the 14 players with at least 100 play-ending post-ups this season, Love is tied (with Al Horford) for last in points per possession. Love isn’t always defended by a smaller player like Chris Paul, but Paul is an adequate post defender. Post-ups just generally aren’t that fruitful.
But Love can move forward believing – with his coach’s blessing – that he was right. Maybe that will soothe some tension.
Probably not much, though. After all, Love is still stuck in Cleveland. That’s the underlying issue.