The Cavs in the post-LeBron James era are beginning to take shape.
The team has spent the summer developing its young prospects and is keeping a key piece of the 2016 championship team; Kevin Love is now under contract for the next five years.
WKSU commentator Terry Pluto says Love has always been the talk of trade rumors, and now he’s the face of the Cavs.
Love Wants To Stay
When the Cavs traded for Love in 2015, the team secured its ‘big three’ with James and Kyrie Irving.
Love, however, received the most criticism for the team’s shortcomings from the start.
“He didn’t score enough, and he was always the third option,” Pluto said.
A day after being swept in the 2018 NBA Finals by the Golden State Warriors, the Cavs conducted exit interviews with the players.
Pluto said Cavs General Manager Koby Altman sat down with Love to discuss the uncertainty surrounding James’ impending free agency.
“At one point he (Altman) says we don’t know what LeBron is going to do. He might leave,” Pluto said. “Love looks at him and says, 'I want in.'”
Pluto said Cavs Owner Dan Gilbert wanted to keep a player of Love’s caliber with Irving gone and now, James.
“You’re just so happy someone wants to take your money,” Pluto said.
The Cavs followed up with a five-year $145 million contract for Love. The last two years of his contract allows him to be tradeable.
Cavs Support Love
So, why would Loev want to stay with a team that's lost two of its 'big three'?
“I think part of it goes back to a situation in the middle of the season when Love left a game early,” Pluto said. “He was called soft, and the team called it the flu originally.”
Love actually suffered a panic attack, but nobody knew.
Love then shared his panic attacks, but it didn’t seem to help.
A few weeks after the meeting, Altman traded most of the roster away, including Wade and Thomas.
“Altman gave one of these great lines,” Pluto said. “'I had an old coach, and he said to me, I want people who are fountains, not drains.' People that nourish you, not just suck the life out of you.”
Love felt secure that the Cavs had his back when things started falling apart.
With the signing of Love and the acquisition of young players at the trade deadline, Pluto said the Cavs want to remain competitive.
Love represents a winning veteran presence for the young roster.
“You still need somebody older. They don’t want another disaster like the 2010 season when LeBron left the first time,” Pluto said.
The Cavs suffered a NBA record 26-game losing streak in the 2010-11 season after James left for Miami.
Feeling The Love
“I do think the real story here is the personal relationship that Kolby Altman, and to a lesser degree Ty Lue, developed with Kevin Love when he was dealing with some of this anxiety,” Pluto said. “Love felt like some of his teammates had turned his back on him.”
The Cavs want to add more fountains to their team like Love, not drains.
Pluto also warned that the big thing Love has to do is not be James.
“He just needs to be the main part of a team that’s growing; it all doesn’t rest on his shoulders,” he said. “Fans are always thrilled when anyone wants to stay.”