Any illusions of the Cleveland Cavaliers and their new Big 3 dominating right out of the gate and trampling all opponents in the way have been disbanded. Does that mean they’re no longer capable of winning the NBA title this season? Absolutely not, but the slow start does show that Cleveland needs more time to gel together.
If you’re listening to NBA rumors, though, the team won’t have much time to gel with Kevin Love. Whispers have persisted that he’ll leave the Cavaliers at the end of the season, rather than sign a long-term deal with the team. Most of these rumors have him landing in Los Angeles (Lakers) since he’s from there. In any case, the idea that Love won’t be in Cleveland past the 2014-15 season continues to grow.
But there’s only one person who can truly decide where the 6’10” power forward is going, and that’s Love himself. During an appearance on the “Mike and Mike” show, Love made sure to point out that he has no plans of leaving the Lake Erie area:
“If I could end all the speculation now, I would. But people are going to continue to talk no matter what. I just want to continue getting better with this team long term. I’m a Cleveland Cavalier.”
Part of the speculation surrounding Love comes from the fact that he won’t commit to a deal now. However, we don’t expect this to happen because he’s only eligible for a smaller two-year deal. But if Love waits until the offseason, he can sign a five-year extension with the Cavs worth up to $107 million.
Of course, this isn’t to say that it’s 100% guaranteed he’ll be in the wine and gold next season. A large part of what Love plans to do hinges on how the team performs. But if the latest results are any indication, he could very well be playing alongside Kyrie Iving and LeBron James years into the future.
The team is currently riding a 6-game winning streak, including tonight’s win over the first-place Toronto Raptors. Sure some of these wins have come against bottom-feeders like the Orlando Magic and Milwaukee Bucks. But there have also been victories over the Wizards, Pacers, Knicks and Raptors – all leaving Cleveland with a respectable 11-7 record right now
Perhaps just as important is that Love is playing much better and gelling with his teammates. Through the season’s first 12 games, he was only averaging 16.5 PPG and shooting 40% from the field. During the 6-game win streak, Love is scoring 22.0 PPG and shooting 62% from the field.
This could be the big difference in why Cleveland is doing so much better as of late. Before, their Big 3 scoring punch was missing a crucial element with Love bricking 60% of his shots. But as we’d expect from a two-time NBA second-teamer, he’s finally getting that shooting percentage up and knocking down 50% from beyond the arc during the streak.
The arrow is pointing up for Cleveland from here on out. So it’s not entirely unreasonable to think that they at least get to the NBA Championship game. And this should be more than enough to keep Love in a Cleveland uniform.