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NBA Daily: Love’s Injury Further Derails Cavaliers

As if things in Cleveland couldn’t get any worse, All-Star forward Kevin Love will miss the next six weeks or more.

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On the court struggles. Off the court drama. Head coach job security concerns. Trade rumors. Free agency apprehension. Locker room tension. Abrupt retirement talk. We’re certainly missing a few storylines. But if the 2017-18 Cleveland Cavaliers were a daytime soap opera, the group would undoubtedly be up for top honors in the Best Drama category.

The latest bit of drama for the franchise to overcome is an injury to All-Star forward Kevin Love. According to an ESPN report, Love will miss the next six to eight weeks after suffering a fracture in his left hand during Tuesday’s loss versus the Detroit Pistons.

Love had surgery on the same hand back in October 2009 and returned to the lineup on December 4 that year. According to reports, the Cavaliers said Love received X-rays at Little Caesars arena and the results revealed a non-displaced fracture in the fifth metacarpal. More tests are reportedly scheduled to take place back in Cleveland on Wednesday.

Love is averaging 18.2 points and 9.6 rebounds on 40 percent shooting from three-point range in 47 games this season. At 28.5 minutes per court appearance this season, Love is averaging the second lowest playing time of his career. Love was selected for his fifth All-Star appearance in early January, but his recent injury will likely keep him on the sidelines. Last season, Love endured the same fate after undergoing knee surgery February 14, 2017. The procedure forced him to watch the All-Star festivities instead of participating.

The tenth year veteran has become somewhat of the mainstream scapegoat when the Cavaliers (29-21) struggle and underachieve. But in Love’s defense, the veteran has been the second best Cavaliers player on the roster — by far this season.

The drama surrounding the Cavaliers is mind boggling for a team that has reached the NBA Finals in three consecutive seasons and entered the campaign as favorites to return a fourth straight time.

At the head of the team’s uncertainty is the long term status of four-time league MVP LeBron James. The future Hall of Famer will be an unrestricted free agent next summer and he has been known to leave situations that appear to be on the brink of collapse. Between James’ cryptic social media messages and those in the media monitoring where his children enroll in school, there is no shortage of speculation about LeBron’s future.

There have been rumors about the future of head coach Tyronn Lue with the franchise. Former league MVP Derrick Rose left the team abruptly early in the season and was reportedly considering retirement due to reoccurring injuries.

The team had to wait for the return of Isaiah Thomas, acquired in the deal that sent Kyrie Irving to Boston, to return from a nasty hip injury. Thomas has struggled mightily in 10 games with the franchise, averaging 15.3 points and 3.9 assists in 10 appearances since returning to action. The guard is shooting a woeful 39 percent from the floor and a putrid 27 percent from three-point range in 26 minutes per contest.

Back to free agency. James isn’t the only player in Cleveland’s locker room eyeing free agency this summer. Dwyane Wade, Rose, Jeff Green, Jose Calderon and Channing Frye are in the last years of their respective deals. Guard Iman Shumpert has a player option worth $11 million next season and could also choose the free agency route this summer.

Almost every Cavs player on the roster, except for James, has been linked in a trade rumor, with center Tristan Thompson at the top of the list. The veteran big man is owed $51 million through the 2020 season.

The Cavaliers appear to be falling apart, imploding, right before our eyes. However, if the playoffs started today, would you bet your hard earned money against any team in the Eastern Conference stopping them from reaching a fourth straight NBA Finals? Love’s injury is just the latest episode of the Cavaliers’ season in drama.

Lang Greene is a senior NBA writer for Basketball Insiders and has covered the NBA for the last 10 seasons

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