Kevin Love is ready to step up and take a lead role with the Cleveland Cavaliers this season following the departure of LeBron James.
He signalled his intentions this summer by signing a four-year, $120 million extension to commit his future to the franchise.
The 30-year-old could've entered free agency in 2019 and pursued a move elsewhere but he was happy to take on the challenge of leading the team into their second post-LeBron era.
Last man standing
Times have truly changed for the power forward as his future in Cleveland has been in question since the moment he arrived in 2014 via a trade from the Minnesota Timberwolves.
He started off as the third wheel behind James and Kyrie Irving and was constantly involved in trade rumours.
But he's managed to outlast his former teammates and he now knows he has a different responsibility.
"My first six years having played on a very young team, having not made the playoffs, went through a number of different situations on and off the floor to being traded to a team where we were expected to compete for a championship each and every year, I had to follow," Love said, per cleveland.com.
"Now keep taking the steps in order to lead this team. I think between the lines, being more vocal and leading by example and trying to be an extension of the coaching staff.
"I'm not saying I have to grow up, but I'm going to have to take the next step in my evolution as far as leadership goes."
The Wine and Gold did very little business in the offseason but they did re-sign veteran Channing Frye, one of Love's closest friends on the team.
The center believes his All-Star teammate is ready to take charge both on and off the floor.
"Kevin is definitely going to lead by example," Frye said. "I think one thing Kevin has shown me and the rest of the people and why he got that bag (of money) he got is he goes to work.
"He works so hard. Every day he is doing so much. He's here five or six hours per day. He wants to win and he challenges himself to get better.
There are no real expectations for the Cavaliers this year and it's difficult to know what they can achieve without LeBron on their roster.
But they're certainly in a much better position than they were when the four-time MVP left in 2010.
Love is confident that they can still be a threat in the east and has sent out a warning.
"We're going to be a team that surprises a lot of people," he said.
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