While most teams spend the All-Star Break recovering and readying for the NBA’s grueling playoff push, the Cleveland Cavaliers spent the time off by shuffling the roster.
As Donovan Mitchell battled out Jayson Tatum for All-Star MVP honors, the Cavs’ front office busied itself with finalizing a buyout for franchise legend Kevin Love. And shortly thereafter, Love announced his decision to join the Miami Heat, Cleveland’s conference rival.
After officially arriving in South Beach Tuesday, Love dropped his first statement as a member of the Heat.
“It’s the third chapter,” Love said in a video posted by the Heat on Twitter. “Being part of the Miami Heat is a special thing, man. All I care about is winning. I’m excited to be a part of this and to know a lot of guys on the team. Obviously, Pat, Andy, Coach Spo, and the entire coaching staff. I’m excited and ready to get on the floor. Heat Nation, I’m excited. I know we get back to work on Friday, so let’s go.”
Love will look to provide some frontcourt depth to a Heat team that could desperately use it. While big man Bam Adebayo joined Mitchell at the All-Star Game this season, the Heat have relied on a revolving door of options to back him up, not unlike what the Cavs have done most of this season with swingmen.
How much Love is able to contribute is another issue altogether. An injury to his hand has left people to debate whether any dip in production is a result of that injury or his age.
Love’s Absence to be Felt in Cavs’ Locker Room
Regardless of his on-court contributions, there’s no doubt that Love was a major factor in Cleveland’s locker room.
Evan Mobley, Cleveland’s second-year stud, shared exactly what it means to lose a guy like Love.
“It definitely hits you emotionally,” Mobley told Nate Ulrich of the Akron Beacon Journal. “All the guys are going to miss him for sure, and I just hope he does great wherever he goes.”
“It just sucks because of who he is, everything he has done for us and what he means to us,” the player told Fedor on Thursday. “It just sucks. Not having him around will be tough.”
With any luck, Danny Green will slide into that elder statesman role occupied by Love this season and last. While most of the team (apart from Mitchell) have little to no playoff experience, Green is a multi-time Finals winner who knows what it takes to survive a deep playoff run.
Green was signed by Cleveland two weeks back when his buyout with the Houston Rockets was completed.
Mitchell Admits He Wanted All-Star MVP Award
Around the same time and several states west of Ohio, Mitchell put on a spectacular performance at the All-Star Game.
Mitchell finished with 40 points, 10 assists, and six rebounds — an eye-popping stat line by any typical indicator.
But it wasn’t quite enough for Mitchell to land All-Star MVP honors. Instead, the award went to Boston Celtics superstar Jayson Tatum, who finished with a game-high 55 points, six assists, and 10 rebounds.
After the game, Mitchell admitted that he and Tatum both had a feeling they could win the award and, as a result, both were competing for the award,
“We were talking about it,” Mitchell said of himself and Tatum, per CavsNation. “Alright let’s go get it, Donovan Mitchell shared during the postgame press conference. “And at the end of the day, he caught fire. And it’s all love.”
It’s not the last time Mitchell will likely have a chance to compete with Tatum for hardware this season. With both teams in the top half of the Eastern Conference’s playoff race, the Cavs and Celtics both project to be difficult postseason outs.