On Thursday, ESPN’s Zach Lowe reported that the Cavaliers had included Kevin Love in three-team trade talks involving former Indiana Pacers small forward Paul George earlier this summer, thus calling his future in Cleveland into serious question.
Now, it appears as though the Cavaliers are committed to not only keeping Love in town, but also featuring him in a prominent role alongside LeBron James.
"Kevin is going to have the best year that he's had here," Cavaliers head coach Tyronn Lue told ESPN.com. "I thought he was great anyway. You keep bringing up [Chris] Bosh. What did Bosh average in Miami? Kevin averaged almost 20 [points] and 10 [rebounds] with two other All-Stars. If you are on a championship-caliber team, you have to sacrifice. But this year is going to be a big opportunity for him. We're going to play through him more. He's going to get those elbow touches again.”
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Interestingly, Lowe pointed out that the Cavs outscored opponents by almost 15 points per 100 possessions in the 227 minutes when Love and LeBron played without Irving last season. Therefore, there’s hope that the two can carry the team in a weak Eastern Conference, even while waiting for Isaiah Thomas to return from his hip injury rehab.
Love has been the subject of trade rumors throughout his time with the Cavaliers. Most likely due to the fact that his numbers haven’t matched the gaudy stats he put up when he was the face of the Minnesota Timberwolves, Love and his teammates were forced to address the endless rumors in February of last season.
"What do they say? 'A lie gets halfway around the world before the truth has a chance to put his pants on.' So, it's a lie,” he told reporters after he heard his name in rumors involving the New York Knicks. “You know, if Bron is having any problem with me… I mean, it's just not true. It's almost laughable. I'm on this team. I'm going to be on this team. And we want to win with the guys that we have.”
James also rushed to Love’s defense at the time.
"It's trash," James said of the report. "And the guy who wrote it is trash too, for writing that, especially during the game like that. So it's always about outside noise, and that's just outside noise for us. We got to focus on what needs to be done and that's to continue to compete for a championship. And we got who we got. Our GM will do a great job of figuring out if we need something else, but right now we're in a good place."
At the time, the Cavaliers were 39-12 and in first place in the Eastern Conference.
While their current status in the East is debatable, it seems as though Love will be counted on in a more prominent role this season.