Many thought and speculated about Kevin Love’s options before free agency began this season. He opted out of his contract late in June with the Cavaliers, which surprised nobody – it was just “good business.” Soon after, many assumed he was done in Cleveland.
There was actually good reason to believe that would be true.
It was nearly a year ago that Kevin Love was traded to Cleveland and it seemed that LeBron James had constructed another power-house “Big Three” in his homecoming to Cleveland. James, Love and Kyrie Irving, were looked upon as a younger version of James, Bosh and Wade in Miami. LeBron James is arguably the most unselfish superstar the league has known and it seemed like an easy fit with Love and Irving.
Things didn’t work out for Love as he had planned though.
Love’s points per game averaged dropped by ten points (26.1 in 2014 compared to 16.4 in 2015), his rebounds per game dropped from 12.5 to 9.7 a game, three point percentage, field goal percentage and free throw percentage – all took a slight drop.
There is a simple reason for the numbers being dropped. Aside from many who think it’s a “system” thing – it was more of a “culture” thing. Love played in Minnesota, where he was the star of a bad team. He was able to put up numbers and play however he wanted without the stress of “expectations.” Before he knew it, he was thrust into a position where the expectation in Cleveland was “to win a championship,” (it’s still kind of weird to see the words “Cleveland” and “championship” in the same sentence, but that’s another story.)
Love had his struggles in Cleveland and they were all well documented. He was not getting many minutes in the fourth quarter, and when he did, he didn’t get many touches – and every body language expert in the world told us he was unhappy. Love and Jame’s relationship seemed to be sour and Love just looked like the odd-man out in Cleveland.
This is why many expected Love to look elsewhere in free agency.
The Lakers were always a team that many thought Love would ultimately end up. He’s a native of Santa Monica, California who went to school in UCLA so the math made sense. Love wasted little time when free agency began and agreed to go back to Cleveland for five years at $110 million.
The money is great obviously and the ongoing sentiment as to why he stayed in Cleveland is because “he has the best chance to win a championship there.”
Fine. Considering how weak the Eastern Conference is, there is a lot of truth to that statement – but so what?
Love did not seem happy in Cleveland. How could he be? He’s the third offensive option on a team who’s star apparently favors the likes of Tristan Thompson over him. This brings to light a question: Is success worth one’s happiness?
In short the answer is “no.” How many successful millionaire businessmen are alcoholics on suicide watch? How many actors choose to live in seclusion to hide from the bright lights? How many music artists end up hating the music industry after a successful career?
The answer to all of these questions is many. Love may have joined the Cavaliers just to avoid publicly being scorned. Let’s all be honest, that’s what would have happened.
LeBron for one, controls the basketball media. Everyone wants to be LeBron’s friend and would’ve written stories on Love being soft or wanting to be a star on a losing team again. Many would’ve said if Love couldn’t fit in with the ultimate team guy in LeBron then he won’t fit in right anywhere.
Most would’ve said Kevin Love cares more about getting paid and putting up ridiculous stats than winning championships. Let’s say that was true – what would be wrong with that?
What’s wrong with wanting to have fun while playing ball and getting paid nicely for it? Nothing. The rhetoric here is all backwards from people who will never be given the choice in their lives that Kevin Love had to make. Kevin Love’s career could turn to a guy who was a 25-10 a night guy to someone who is just another name on a roster with LeBron James.
Yes, his career could add an NBA Championship or two with Cleveland – but was that even Kevin Love’s end-game when it’s all said and done ?
Knowing who LeBron James is though, Love would not be there if LeBron didn’t want him there. With that being said nobody should be surprised if Love requests to be traded one day from Cleveland – with or without a championship.
A lesson is to be learned here. If you’re not happy where you’re at – move on. Love had that choice but decided to stay in Cleveland.