Report: Cavaliers have “legitimate fear” Kevin Love leaves as free agent. Should they really?


Kevin Love has denied he is leaving. Repeatedly.

Yet whether driven by the hopes of and dreams of other franchises and front offices, or whether Kevin Love’s agent and people are sending out hints, the “Love is going to leave the Cavaliers this summer” rumors will not die.

The latest one comes once again from Adrain Wojnarowski, speaking on the Dan Patrick Show.

“I think all year long he has looked longingly at free agency and the possibility of what else is out there. What the Cavaliers had really hoped for is that if he had played in the postseason, and had success, and had some big moments, and all of a sudden people start to look at Kevin Love differently — “he had a great Game 6 against the Bulls and got us to the conference finals” — and people started to see him as a winning player and a big moment guy, he hasn’t had those opportunities in the past, maybe he’d feel differently about that role he had there. But none of that is going to happen now, he’s out, and he won’t experience any of that. And the only big decision he’s going to be making is based on a regular season where he hasn’t embraced loved that role like Chris Bosh….

“He’s going to look at free agency, I think he’s going to look at other teams. He can always opt in and go into free agency next summer where there’s even a bigger pool of money. But there’s a legitimate fear within the Cavs that he will just walk.”

Here are my thoughts:

• I think Love will stay, at least for one more season. The logic goes that if Love leaves it’s because he doesn’t like the sacrifices he had to make to his game, and he wants to be in the spotlight. He wants to be the focal point of a franchise not the third option. The rumor has been if he leaves he winds up a Laker. If Love leaves the contender Cavs for the Lakers — a team that would be lucky to make the playoffs even with him in the West — the national narrative will be about Love not caring about winning, about him being selfish, and about how he wasn’t tough enough to stay with a contender. Fair or not, that’s how it will be spun everywhere outside Los Angeles. If Love gives it a couple seasons and then leaves, it’s much easier for him to say “I tried but this just wasn’t a fit.”

• Love may stay by opting in for the final year of his deal (he probably could survive on $16.7 million). Or if he opts out he signs a deal where he has a player option in one or two more years. He will reassess then. Love may well stay a Cavalier beyond that time, but he is going to get paid max money under the new television deal cap, and he’d be a fool not to try and get that extra cash.

• Wojnarowski is as connected as any NBA reporter out there, and if he says something, you have to give it some credence. That said, nobody leaks anything this time of year (to Wojnarowski or anyone else) without a motive. And it’s not hard to imagine motives here that may not always be tied to what Love is thinking.

• Cavaliers management (and fans) should be fearful he leaves — it would be very difficult to replace him of anyone near the same quality. Yes, I know LaMarcus Aldridge’s name comes up, but signing an outright free agent to a max deal while keeping LeBron paid (he can opt out), keeping J.R. Smith, keeping Timofey Mozgov, and re-signing restricted free agent Tristan Thompson (and the list of people to pay is longer) is very financially tricky. Unless you can sell Love on a sign-and-trade to Portland (and good luck with that).

• Late in the season and into the playoffs, Love started to find more of a comfort zone with the Cavaliers. He and LeBron are never going to be tight like LeBron and Wade were, but LeBron did stick up for him. He may not be as eager to bolt as people in other markets want to believe.

• Cavaliers fans gave him a standing ovation in Game 2 when he was shown on the big screen during a timeout. That’s from the Joni Mitchel “You don’t know what you’ve got ’till it’s gone” file.

This is going to be a very interesting summer in Cleveland no matter what Love decides.

LeBron James wearing headband against Bulls in Game 2 (photo)


LeBron James finally explained his mysterious ditching of his headband:

“I did it because I just wanted to look like my teammates,” James told Northeast Ohio Media Group. “Just wanted to be one. Nothing more than that.”


So LeBron doesn’t want to be one with his teammates anymore?

Down 1-0 against the Bulls, the Cavaliers probably need him to go far above and beyond everyone else in Game 2 tonight.

LeBron said he’d have to be more aggressive without Kevin Love. It certainly seems he’s making that transition.

Tristan Thompson expected to start for Cavaliers in Game 2 vs. Bulls


With Kevin Love lost for the remainder of the postseason due to injury, it may take more than one game for the Cavaliers to figure out the best alternative lineups and rotations.

Mike Miller got the start in Game 1, and though he did grab five rebounds in 16 minutes, his inability to positively affect the offense meant that the team would be better-served with Tristan Thompson in the lineup, who is a better defender and a tireless force on the glass.

Thompson played a starter’s share of minutes (37) in Game 1, and will reportedly get the chance to do so from the opening tip of Wednesday’s critical Game 2 contest.

From Chris Haynes of

In an attempt to split the series at home, Cavaliers coach David Blatt will start Tristan Thompson in Game 2 against the Chicago Bulls on Wednesday, league sources informed Northeast Ohio Media Group.

Sources spoke on the condition of anonymity. Thompson will make his first postseason start at power forward, pairing up with LeBron James and Timofey Mozgov in the frontcourt, one source said.

The biggest effect of this decision might be how it impacts LeBron James, who can now return to playing the small forward position where he’s traditionally been able to do the most damage. Kyrie Irving explained why that’s a huge positive.

“We get our 3-man back,” Irving said. “It was great seeing Bron at the 4, but at times he was getting the ball just like our bigs and he’s giving it right to me.”

“Our dynamic throughout the entire year and what we’ve created is we play off one another and our bigs get the rebound,” Irving said. “Me and Bron are sprinting dang near at half-court ready to get our offense started, so we have our 3 man back and he’ll be out on the perimeter and all that energy battling Joakim Noah and all those other bigs can be afforded on Mike Dunleavy playing the 3 and also on the offensive end.”

James has admitted he needs to be more aggressive heading into Game 2, after a 9-of-22 shooting effort that accompanied a six-turnover Game 1 performance. Playing the position where he’s consistently been the most comfortable may do plenty to help achieve the desired result.

With Kevin Love out, LeBron James says “I might have to change my mindset a little bit”


Go ahead and file this under the “well, duh” category.

With Kevin Love and J.R. Smith sidelined, the Cavaliers ran a pretty conventional, isolation heavy offense in Game 1 — and lost. It’s almost like Tom Thibodeau designed a defense to stifle isolation plays… oh wait he did. Well, it still works.

Kyrie Irving was attacking at times but also settled for some jumpers. LeBron James seemed more tentative, getting in close more by backing down Jimmy Butler than attacking face up from the wing. LeBron also had six turnovers. LeBron seemed to want to facilitate, and the Cavs were getting the ball to shooters like Matthew Delvadova and Mike Miller, who just were not knocking them down.

LeBron thinks he may need to be more aggressive in Game 2. Here is what he told friend of the blog Chris Haynes of the Northeast Ohio Media Group (what most of us just call the Plain Dealer).

“I might have to change my mindset a little bit obviously with Kev [Love] being out,” he said. “It’s something that we all haven’t been accustomed to this year with him being out an extensive period, or one of the Big 3 being out for a long period of time since I had my injury. So, it might be a different mindset for myself and Kyrie [Irving].”

So your third and fourth best players are out, and you think you may need to be more aggressive? Interesting.

It’s not all on LeBron. The Cavs need some guys not named LeBron and Irving to knock down some shots. They need to be better defensively (maybe put Iman Shumpert on Derrick Rose). There are a lot of things they can do better.

But also, the Cavaliers need a more aggressive LeBron.

Bulls ride hot start, strong shooting night to Game 1 win in Cleveland


In a way, this game’s must-win status for the Bulls was a microcosm of their relationship with the Cavs in LeBron James’ first year back. If there is any year Chicago will get past Cleveland, it’s this one, since James and his new teammates are feeling each other out. And if there was any game in their second-round they would be in position to steal, it’s one of the first two. Kevin Love is out, and so is J.R. Smith. Smith will be back for Game 3, and the Cavs missed his shooting badly on Monday as the Bulls held on and withstood a late run to take Game 1 in Cleveland, 99-92.

Despite a late scare with a hit to the shoulder, Derrick Rose was mostly spectacular in Game 1. He led the Bulls with 25 points on 11-of-26 shooting and even shoot 3-of-6 from long range. It was exactly the kind of statement game Chicago needed from him to start the series, especially with Joakim Noah so ineffective.

The Bulls started the game with a 27-15 lead after the first quarter, thanks largely to a slot start by Kyrie Irving. But Irving heated up and finished with 30 points. He was forced to do a lot of the heavy lifting with Jimmy Butler tailing LeBron all game.

After being ineffective for most of the first-round series against the Bucks, Pau Gasol took advantage of the Cavs’ weak frontcourt defense for a 21-point, 10-rebound, four-block night.

This is only the beginning, and there aren’t a lot of sustainable takeaways for either team. James was comparatively forgettable, which is probably not going to happen again. The Bulls shot 55.6 percent from three-point range, which is also probably not going to happen again. But without Love, the Cavs look much more beatable than they would otherwise.