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Kevin Love is back after missing seven weeks with a broken hand. What does his return mean for the Cavaliers?
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David Aldridge: They will, ultimately, have a chance to become the best version of themselves this season with Love in the middle. He’s made it clear he doesn’t like playing center, but we’re down to crunch time now, and with the days in between playoff games I suspect Love will remain Cleveland’s starting center in the postseason, relegating Tristan Thompson to the bench. The Cavs have no chance of becoming a good defensive team this year, so the only way they can go deep in the playoffs is to outscore people. With his ability to stretch the floor and rebound at both ends, Love gives them their best chance of doing just that. He’ll allow Larry Nance, Jr., to come off the bench with Jordan Clarkson for a high-energy second unit that should be able to score out of transition more, which would further help the Cavs’ “get to 110” formula for postseason winning.
Steve Aschburner: It means good things for the Cavaliers and even better things for Love, who will be more appreciated now as that team’s second-best player. The Cavs, not getting for a variety of reasons the boost expected from GM Koby Altman’s trade-deadline moves, needed help. Love, no longer the third wheel after LeBron James and either Kyrie Irving or the unknown of Isaiah Thomas that loomed over 2017-18’s first half, brings his considerable offensive skills and his size as a one-man cavalry. There still might be things to blame by season’s end in Cleveland but Love, for a change, won’t be one of them.
Shaun Powell: Love can only have a positive impact on the Cavs by being the No. 2 option. After losing Kyrie Irving and then seeing the Isaiah Thomas experiment fizzle, the Cavs now turn to someone who can, and must, ride shotgun. The trick for Love is meshing with a rotation that was changed drastically while he was out. His return is the reason why everyone should’ve taken the Cavs’ recent struggles with a grain of salt. They’re still the team to beat in the East, with all due respect to the Raptors (hint: it has to do with No. 23).
John Schuhmann: On paper, it means a lot. The Cavs’ other two centers — Larry Nance Jr. and Tristan Thompson — can’t shoot, so Love’s presence gives them another shooter on the floor, which obviously makes a huge difference offensively and gives Cleveland a higher ceiling. But Love’s return in itself also means nothing. Over the last two seasons, success for the Cavs has been more about the urgency with which they play (especially on defense) than who is on the floor. This has been a pretty mediocre team all season (that 18-1 stretch was against a lot of bad teams) and through Tuesday, the Cavs are a minus-26 with James and Love both on the floor. So having the two together again does not automatically solve the team’s problems.
Sekou Smith: It means the Cavaliers got their second-best and most important player back in the mix just in time for this team to start their late-season rally. It also means LeBron James eases back into a familiar comfort zone that doesn’t require him to serve as the first, second and third option (now he can be just the first and second). Most importantly, though, is that the time before the playoffs being used to get everyone comfortable with their postseason roles. The pressure is off of newcomers (relatively speaking, of course) George Hill, Rodney Hood, Larry Nance Jr. and Jordan Clarkson to play above and beyond their normal ways to try to make up for the absence of an All-Star/walking double-double in Love. Having Love healthy and available for the playoffs means everything for a Cavaliers team dealing with one issue after another, the latest being coach Ty Lue’s indefinite absence for heath reasons.
Report: Pau Gasol to join Trail Blazers
Free agent center Pau Gasol has agreed to a one-year deal with the Portland Trail Blazers, according to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski.
Free agent Pau Gasol has agreed to a one-year deal with the Portland Trail Blazers, league source tells ESPN.
— Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) July 24, 2019
Gasol, 39, who was limited to just 30 games last season because of a variety of injuries, has career averages of 17.0 points and 9.2 rebounds over 17 NBA seasons.
Report: Furkan Korkmaz returning to 76ers
Free agent forward Furkan Korkmaz has agreed to a two-year contract to return to the Philadelphia 76ers, according to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski.
Free agent forward Furkan Korkmaz has agreed to a two-year contract to return to the Philadelphia 76ers, agent Mike Lindeman of Excel Sports tells ESPN.
Korkmaz, 21, brings back a rotational forward with the ability to spread the floor with his shooting. The loss of JJ Redick in free agency – and Kyle Korver’s decision to choose Milwaukee over Philadelphia – brought some increased urgency to keep Korkmaz on the Sixers roster.
The 21-year-old Korkmaz, who was the 26th overall pick in the 2016 NBA Draft, averaged 5.8 points and 2.2 rebounds in 14.1 minutes last season.
Report: Kevin Love to withdraw from World Cup
Cavaliers forward Kevin Love is the latest player expected to withdraw from Team USA’s training camp for the FIBA World Cup, according to The Athletic’s Shams Charania.
Sources: Cleveland Cavaliers star Kevin Love is expected to withdraw from Team USA’s training camp for World Cup. Toronto Raptors All-Star Kyle Lowry remains committed on USA roster and is expected to be recovered from thumb surgery and return midway through camp in L.A.
— Shams Charania (@ShamsCharania) July 24, 2019
This news comes just one day after Damian Lillard reportedly withdrew from the World Cup. Love, who played in just 22 games last season because of a shoulder injury, averaged 17.0 points and 10.9 rebounds in 2018-19.
During the previous two weeks, James Harden, Anthony Davis, Eric Gordon, Zion Williamson and CJ McCollum reportedly decided not to compete in the World Cup this year.
Although the guard ranks will be somewhat depleted of NBA stars, Team USA continues to have a deep pool of players available.
Team USA still has strong blend of youthful players and veterans; this summer’s training camp will provide platform for emerging young players such as Donovan Mitchell, De’Aaron Fox, Jayson Tatum, Kyle Kuzma and Myles Turner, with gritty vets like Lowry, PJ Tucker and Thad Young. https://t.co/b8T16mdn8G
— Shams Charania (@ShamsCharania) July 24, 2019
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