Today the Cleveland Cavaliers suffered another blow to their already thinning rotation. All-star power forward Kevin Love will be sidelined for up to six weeks after receiving news he needs surgery to clean up his left knee.
So far in 46 games for the Cavaliers this season, Love is averaging 20 points and 11.1 rebounds while shooting nearly 43 percent from the field and 38.4 percent from beyond the arc. So to say the Cavaliers will miss his presence in the lineup for the next month and a half is an understatement.
Other players such as Channing Frye and newly acquired Derrick Williams will likely see an increased workload with Love on the shelf. Williams, who was signed to a 10-day-contract last Thursday, is in prime position to get at least another 10-day-contract if not a deal for the remainder of the season.
This injury to Love also will certainly re-kindle trade rumors involving the Cavaliers, and now that the team has an open roster spot due to the recent trade of Chris Andersen. It was reported today by Sam Amico that the Cavs ownership gave the green light to increase payroll, which means the front office will now begin searching the trade market quite fiercely, with the trade deadline just nine days away.
Ownership has given #Cavs green light to increase payroll/tax, per AmicoHoops source. Team said to be working on several trade possibilities
— Sam Amico (@AmicoHoops) February 14, 2017
Losing Love for six weeks is definitely a setback for the Cavaliers, however, it is not a loss they cannot overcome. James and Kyrie Irving are still healthy and playing well for the team. However it will now be more difficult to navigate the games that James will inevitably take off for rest. While it is obvious the Cavaliers do not care much about regular season results, they would hate to go through a portion of their schedule at way less then full strength. So the reduction in minutes and rest for James will now be more complex than originally thought.
While Love’s scoring will be missed, what the team will miss more from the All-Star power forward is his elite rebounding skill. The Cavaliers will still have Tristan Thompson, James and Frye to take care of the rebounding, but it will now have to be more of a team effort with a guy averaging 11.1 rebounds now out of action.
The six-week time frame for Love’s recovery will be his possible return around the end of March, which would still leave enough time for Love to re-enter the rotation and get back up to game speed before the postseason begins mid-April.
This timetable is not set in stone and head coach Tyronn Lue does not want to rush Love, or J.R. Smith back, telling the media today that, “We don’t want to rush those guys back,” Lue said. “Health is the most important thing, we know that, and with two of our starters being out, we got to step up and play better. And I know we will. I’m confident that we’ll play well so guys got to be ready to play.”
So the journey without Love will be an interesting one for this Cavaliers team, who now may be more motivated then ever before to make a move before the Feb. 23 trade deadline. Whether a move is actually made before that deadline, the Cavaliers still have more than enough to stay afloat atop of the Eastern Conference, it will just be more challenging without an All-Star like Love in the lineup.