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The Cleveland Cavaliers annual midseason slump has been ripe with drama in 2018. The latest episode has centered around a report by ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski, which details how several players questioned the legitimacy of Kevin Love calling out of work sick following their annihilation at the hands of the Oklahoma City Thunder on Sunday.
Few could blame Love for going out afterward and drowning his sorrows at the bottom of a bottle, but Love denied faking an illness in his response to the reports. On Tuesday, New York Daily News columnist Frank Isola identified Isaiah Thomas as one of the players who led the witch hunt.
With the Feb. 8 trading deadline looming the next three weeks will be fascinating, starting with the dead-man-walking Cavs, who were described by one person close to the team as being in “utter chaos.” ESPN reported that during a team meeting Kevin Love became yet again the convenient scapegoat. A source told The News that Isaiah Thomas led the charge against Love, who turned up ill for Saturday’s embarrassing loss to Oklahoma City and went home after playing just three minutes.
Ironically, Thomas was supposed to be the player Love had a preexisting bond with. If Thomas is turning on Love already, this can’t sit well with the beleaguered Cavs forward.
Overall, it’s just the latest mini-drama for the Cavs to address. The Cavaliers’ ship has patched up breaches in their hull before, but they appear to be capsizing and sinking to the point of no return. The Miami Heat are nipping at their heels in the Eastern Conference standings, their defense is the NBA’s worst and LeBron James will be a free agent this summer.
If the Cavaliers are lucky, this is the nadir of their latest midseason malaise. Not to belabor the analogy, but Cleveland may have to consider handing out life vests and abandoning ship if they can’t shore up their internal divisions. Channing Frye and Iman Shumpert will likely be transferred to the Sacramento Kings’ underwater vessel in exchange for George Hill any day now.
Love has prime real estate on the trade block, but Thomas could be on the outs soon as well. Thomas is a free agent after the season and he’s becoming a negative influence on the team ecosystem. His Cavs teammates are reportedly having trouble incorporating his ball-dominant style, it remains to be seen how much his hip injury has altered his quickness and rumors involving the Cavs trading Thomas have already been floated.
One thing is clear: Koby Altman will have some tough decisions to make as the Feb. 8 trade deadline approaches.
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