ESPN reported on Monday that the Cavs were preparing for Love’s prolonged absence, suggesting a month’s rest may heal the nagging left toe injury that has forced him to sit out the last four games. Friday’s news is of far more serious concern. The team said in statement that Love likely won’t return to basketball activity for at least six weeks, potentially pushing his return back multiple months.
Of course, this is not entirely bad news for a team that is clearly turning its focus to improving lottery odds. Over the past week, the Cavaliers fired coach Tyronn Lue, only to have his replacement deny accepting the interim job, and guard J.R. Smith publicly acknowledged his desire to be traded. Fellow veteran Kyle Korver is also reportedly on the market, and Love was thought not be too far behind.
Love averaged team highs of 19 points and 13.5 rebounds before being shelved four games into the season. The 30-year-old signed a four-year, $120 million contract extension over the summer that keeps him under contract through 2023. He may still be an attractive asset to a contending team, but Friday’s surgery only complicates the significant investment for potential suitors. Love has missed more than 20 games in six of his 11 NBA seasons, five of his last eight and each of the last three.
Six weeks would keep Love out until mid-December, when the Cavs will be 30 games into the season and likely locked into a race for the bottom of the Eastern Conference standings. Further delays in his rehab would leave Love sidelined until closer to midseason, when the best course of action for a team in rebuilding mode may be to audition a healthy Love for a couple months before the trade deadline.
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