The Cleveland Cavaliers forward appears to have a growing chip on his shoulder where the rebuilding franchise is concerned as his emotions got the better of him at a shoot-around on Saturday.
Since signing a four-year $120 million contract extension back in 2018, it has not been plain sailing for the 31-year-old All-Star who has consistently exercised his frustration with the Cavs and their work-in-progress roster.
Love was reportedly slapped with a $1,000 fine, of which he disputed, by the team for an outburst at the bench during a December 31 fixture against the Raptors. The blowout was caught on camera which shows Love exploding, slapping chairs and asking Cleveland’s coach to remove him from the game.
But events reportedly escalated yesterday as The Athletic’s Shams Charania wrote about “an emotional verbal outburst toward general manager Koby Altman” which took place during a Saturday shootaround. Love was said to be screaming in front of teammates, coaches and front office members, although the veteran forward later denied the allegations, calling them a series of “non-truths”.
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Despite the heated incident, Love still started in Saturday’s game against OKC but his temperament remained visibly agitated, particularly at the end of the second quarter. Guard Collin Sexton stopped just past halfcourt and dribbled excessively for over ten seconds, failing to see the mismatch under the basket between Love and Chris Paul.
It may have seemed like a simply missed opportunity but Love didn’t see it that way and, once receiving the ball, swung it aggressively at the feet of Cedi Osman.
When asked about the incident, Love said: “I felt we were making a play call and at the end of the second [quarter] we were in the bonus and I had Chris Paul on me. 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.”
However, First-year NBA coach Beilein took the blame for a poor decision and said:
“That was my mistake. 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, I didn’t see it. It was on me, I called something else.
“I told him after. I said I’m sorry, I didn’t see it. I just wanted us to … we’re playing at a pace where I was afraid we weren’t going to get a great shot. Took my complete eyes off who he was posting up. At halftime, I said, ‘My bad I missed you.’ And you saw in the second half, we went right at it.”
Late Saturday night, took to Instagram to plead his case, captioning a picture of himself with his arm around teammate Sexton: “A lot of non-truths being shared … but I’ve learned that we live in a world where people remember accusations and not rebuttals. Let them paint whatever picture they want. Fact is — I love my teammates.”
Love is calling out for a trade to a contender, but his injury history and high salary isn’t likely to bring the return the Cavs are searching for. One thing is for certain though, Cleveland ought to look into making a trade decision sooner rather than later.