The injury bug has once again hit the Cleveland Cavaliers.
Cavaliers power forward Kevin Love is having his best season with the Cavs, averaging 20 points and 11.1 rebounds per game on 42.9 percent shooting from the field and 38.4 percent shooting from 3-point range. Unfortunately for the team, Love will undergo left knee surgery and will miss the next six weeks. The news was announced yesterday morning, meaning that Love will not be able to play in the All-Star Game this Sunday, his fourth selection and his first selection with the Cavs.
However, this isn’t the first injury that Love has had this season, as the power forward has missed several games at different points in the season due to back spasms. In those few occasions, Love missed a game or two, and returned to the starting lineup right away. But now he has had surgery on his knee and will miss over a month of time, the Cavs will be forced to make adjustments.
This news is heartbreaking for many, as Love has played at a very high level and has been a key cog in the Cavs success this season. After there was a debate about whether or not he fit in for two seasons, Love silenced many of his critics and has proved to be a vital member of this Cavs team.
But the Cavs are not strangers to playing undermanned. This isn’t the only injury that the Cavs have had to deal with this season, as guard Iman Shumpert has missed several games throughout the season with nagging injuries, and starting shooting guard J.R. Smith has been out since mid-December after undergoing surgery to repair his broken thumb. While these two players are also key members of the team, the Cavs have been able to play relatively well and maintain the No. 1 seed in the Eastern Conference.
Without Love, the Cavs should still be able to play at a high level and finish the season as the No. 1 seed in the Eastern Conference. With superstars like LeBron James and Kyrie Irving leading the team, Shumpert back to being healthy and Smith expected to be back as early as in three weeks, the Cavs should be fine.
In addition, forward Derrick Williams, who the team signed to a 10-day contract on Thursday, has played very well in the three games he has played in and is expected to be signed to at least a season-long deal to remain with the team. Williams could prove to be a good replacement for Love over the next six weeks.
Without Love, James and Irving will have to carry the load more than normal. It isn’t ideal to have both of these players taking on this responsibility in the regular season, but both are more than capable of doing it. In fact, Love’s absence will also give other players, such as Williams, Kyle Korver and any other potential players that the team picks up or trades for, a chance to step up, take on larger roles and fit in well with the Cavs’ system.
While there are not many upsides to Love’s injury, this time off will not only allow Love’s knee to heal, but it could really help with the back problems he has been dealing with.
Luckily for the Cavs, both Love and Smith are expected to be back before the playoffs, meaning that there should be enough time for head coach Tyronn Lue and the team to get ready for the postseason with a full, healthy roster. By the time Love comes back, Williams could be his backup off the bench along with Channing Frye, and the Cavs will be a deeper team by April, which is exactly what the team will want heading into the playoffs.
Of course, Love’s injury will also lead to trade speculation around the league. Before his injury, Love has been in the news for a potential trade that would send him to the New York Knicks and Carmelo Anthony to Cleveland. For those that are against this trade, this injury really couldn’t come at a worse time. While the Cavs have stated that they are not trading Love for Anthony, this news adds more fuel to these trade talks and the rumors will remain until the trade deadline is over on Feb. 23 at 3 p.m.
But for now, expect the Cavs to not move Love and allow his injury to heal. The team will continue to search the market for potential trade opportunities or free agent signings. Love is expected to be back on a fully healthy Cavs’ roster come April before the playoffs start, which will give the Cavs the best opportunity to repeat as champions.
The Cavs will look to win their third straight heading into the All-Star break, as they will take on the Indiana Pacers tonight at 7 p.m. at Quicken Loans Arena in Cleveland.
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