Kevin Love Reveals Reason for Ditching Cavaliers in First Post-Buyout Matchup

Kevin Love Cleveland Cavaliers

Getty Kevin Love of the Miami Heat.

Though he’ll likely be remembered as one of the heroes behind the Cleveland Cavaliers winning the franchise’s first championship in 2016, Kevin Love‘s departure from Lake Erie last month was not quite so glamorous.

After the Cavaliers were bested by the Philadelphia 76ers before the All-Star Game, news that Love had requested a buyout from Cleveland slowly trickled into the airwaves.

It wasn’t long before the franchise legend was deplaning in South Beach following his decision to join the Miami Heat for the rest of the season.

On Wednesday, the Cavs got their first shot at seeing what they’re missing out on. Following the Cavs’ 104-100 win over the Heat, Love shared his rationale for asking out of a team that secured its second-straight winning season on Wednesday.

“I felt like I could still play and I know I can still play,” Love said, per Chris Fedor of “Sometimes you have to give yourself up and sacrifice. I wanted to be out there and be a part of something bigger than myself. I didn’t think I was at the point yet where I was going to sit there and watch.”

If Love wanted time on the floor, it makes sense that he left for warmer hardwood. Love was a DNP-CD in Cleveland’s eight games before the All-Star Break. Not coincidentally, the Cavs went 7-1 during that stretch.

Love: Buyout Request ‘the Hardest Thing’ Ever

Even though Love has received the playing time he craved before the buyout, the All-Star admitted asking out was a tough decision.

“Professionally, it was the hardest thing I ever had to do without question,” Love said. “I think you guys know how much I love Cleveland and Ohio. All the fans there have always supported me and the team. Naturally, winning there makes it bigger than guys like myself, Kyrie (Irving), Bron (LeBron James). Even here I look up and see the championship banners and I’m like, ‘That’s special.’ I go back to Brecksville and I’m like, ‘We did that. We really did that.’ That was incredibly hard to do after eight and a half seasons.

Ultimately, though, Love chose playing time over playoff ambitions. The Cavaliers likely have a higher playoff floor, given their status as the East’s No. 4 seed and the Heat’s status as No. 7.

But that doesn’t necessarily mean Cleveland’s playoff ceiling is higher than Miami’s.

Though the Cavs are unquestionably more talented than the Heat, Miami owns one trait that Cleveland lacks in abundance: experience.

Mitchell Not Worried By Cavs’ Lack of Experience

Aside from Donovan Mitchell, the Cleveland Cavaliers have little meaningful playoff experience under their belts. Darius Garland and Evan Mobley have never appeared in the postseason, while Jarrett Allen‘s experience is limited to just nine games, the last eight of which have been losses.

But Mitchell isn’t worried about the Cavs’ lack of experience haunting them.

“Obviously, it’s no secret that we lack the experience,” Mitchell said, per Chris Fedor of “When people talk, we’re not in their top 3 or whatever it is, and that’s fine, but the biggest thing for us is we believe we can not just make the playoffs but make a deep run. It’s all a learning experience and about continuing to get better, so, when we get to the playoffs, whatever seed we are, we’re ready.”

The Cavaliers face the Heat tomorrow night, a rematch of yesterday’s contest.

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