You almost have to wonder why it doesn’t happen more often.
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Players want to be around the action, so they ride the bench and hang out with the team even while recovering from a health setback. It’s cruel to have your health taken away from you during a season, whether you’re a top starter or fringe rotation member, and most players cannot stand being away from the game even if their year was cut short by injury. Kevin Love’s season, infamously, was cut short by injury during the first round of the playoffs as he underwent surgery for a separated shoulder following a collision with Boston’s Kelly Olynyk.
And now he needs a bit of an ice-down following another collision with a teammate after his team’s Eastern Conference championship celebration from last week. From Chris Haynes at Northwest Ohio Media Group:
“I walk out there, the teammate will remain nameless, I go up and give him a big hug [and I said] 'congratulations' and he takes his arm and he goes, 'Ah yeah man, good game' and just hits me right on the arm," Love playfully explained. "Some of the front office staff who was out there with me kind of had to grab me and said, 'Are you OK?'"
It turns out that while orange and yellow confetti was falling from the rafters and while the trophy presentation was going on, Love was in excruciating pain.
"I had one of those moments where I was like, 'Oh man, I'm going to have to go back to the locker room. How is that going to look? Will I have to have to sit down?' So I just tried to take a deep breath, calm myself and got home and iced as quickly as [possible]," Love said.
Love recently returned to the Cleveland bench, after being cleared to travel with the team, to wild applause from the Cavalier faithful as his new’ish team dispatched the top-seeded Atlanta Hawks. It’s to the big forward’s credit that he joined his teammates as they celebrated the Finals berth, as one could turn understandably mopey after losing out on a healthy postseason run – Love’s first after seven years in the NBA.
Instead, Love took part in the festivities. And while he didn’t rule out declining his player option (thus making him an unrestricted free agent) this summer, he did give the assembled press every indication that he’d like to stick it out as a Cavalier no matter what happens in the team’s Finals matchup against Golden State.
"I truly haven't even thought about it but as I mentioned, I expect to be suiting up for Game 1 [of next season barring any setbacks]," Love said. For the Cavaliers, a reporter asked.
"Yes sir," he responded.
It’s the best move for all involved, really.
The Cavs did not fully take advantage of Love’s significant offensive gifts this summer, which is fine to an extent. It takes a while for these sorts of things to gel, and though the Cavs probably didn’t play to their potential offensive in the regular season, it’s hard to argue with the team’s current placement. By opting in, Love will make $16.7 million next season, he’ll have another crack and developing what should be a devastating triptych with LeBron James and Kyrie Irving, and he’ll have a set stage to make as much as humanly possible with a free agent deal in 2016 – when the salary cap is expected to rise by perhaps as much as $25 million.
Now, whether or not Love will cash in with Cleveland that summer is up to anyone’s best guess. An unending amount of changes could take place between now and July of 2015, much less now and July 2016, events that could have Love looking elsewhere.
For now, just mind your steps around the guy on the bench. The sling should have tipped you off, guys.
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