Kevin Love would’ve ‘really loved’ Cavs’ LeBron James-Kyrie Irving duo to have had one more go

Photo by Jason Miller/Getty Images
Photo by Jason Miller/Getty Images /

In a recent interview, Kevin Love essentially said how it would’ve been great for the Cleveland Cavaliers’ former LeBron James-Kyrie Irving duo to have had one more go.

It’s tough to say that us Cleveland Cavaliers fans maybe still haven’t completely gotten over how things ended regarding Kyrie Irving‘s departure. I’m fine with it now, but it was shocking at the time when Irving requested a trade, and the Cavs’ initial return after dealing Irving to the Boston Celtics before the 2017-18 season didn’t end up being a good one.

Eventually after another set of 2018 deadline deals, it was nice to see at the time and more so in the 2018-19 season and some into this season, that Jordan Clarkson ended up contributing in a big way for the Cavs.

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Larry Nance Jr. eventually came with Clarkson as being dealt by the Los Angeles Lakers, too, near that deadline, and he’s one of the Cavs’ most productive players now. For both, that didn’t include in the 2018 postseason, really, though.

Anyhow, in a recent interview with The Athletic‘s Jason Lloyd (subscription required and h/t Bleacher Report’s Tim Daniels), Kevin Love said he would’ve “really loved” for the Cavs’ LeBron James-Irving duo to have one more go at it, which is not surprising.

Love touched on how even if it did turn out to be the last run for James and Irving in Cleveland, alongside two still current Cavs in him and Tristan Thompson, along with feasibly other pieces, such as Kyle Korver and J.R. Smith, it still could’ve led to another good shot at a championship.

The Cavs did eventually get to the 2018 NBA Finals, but Love himself was banged up in a physical seven-game first-round series against the Indiana Pacers before that, and Cleveland needed seven games to beat the Celtics, who were without Irving, in that years’ Eastern Conference Finals.

Love had some good outings in that postseason, and Korver, George Hill, Thompson and even Jeff Green came up with some big moments, but the Cavaliers were clearly carried by James. LeBron had 34.0 points, 9.1 rebounds, a postseason career-high 9.0 assists, 1.4 steals and 1.0 blocks per game in that 2018 playoff run for Cleveland, as documented by Basketball Reference.

Factoring in that massive workload James ended up having for the Cavs sans Irving in that postseason run where Cleveland was evidently not close to as explosive offensively without Irving, I get where Love is coming from here in wanting to have seen even just one more run for the James-Irving duo in The Land.

That’s realistically combined with him, TT, Smith and Korver, and perhaps other pieces, such as Iman Shumpert, too. Shumpert also previously stressed how he would’ve liked for the Cavs’ prior core of their runs to three consecutive NBA Finals appearances with Irving to have had more time together, too.

Kyrie’s handle, three-level scoring and his competitive fire combined with terrific scoring in the Cavs’ 2016 NBA Finals run, to go with other postseason runs, of which Love seemingly hit on, could’ve given the Wine and Gold a better chance at winning one more ring.

Of course, Cleveland with Irving still lost in just five to the Golden State Warriors then with Kevin Durant in 2017, but the Cavs still were right in three of those five games.

Also, as Love touched on with Lloyd, the Cavaliers were seemingly unstoppable aside from when they were playing Golden State with the James-Irving duo with Irving’s gravity as a scorer, James all-around play and the spacing Love and others could provide. The Cavs would’ve had much more of a chance to beat the Warriors in 2018 as well, even if they wouldn’t have ultimately won.

Love did acknowledge how things weren’t always the smoothest between James and Irving, though, which is well-documented, but Love still believes on the floor, one more go would’ve been awesome to be a part of with that duo and others.

Furthermore, given the constant coverage/questions about his future with the Cleveland Cavaliers, Love emphasized how LeBron’s last Cavs’ season was similar to that of Michael Jordan‘s with the Chicago Bulls in 1997-98, where there was that sort of thing day-to-day.

Plus, just as there was in Chicago in ’98, as shown in “The Last Dance,” there was seemingly “the shift toward a rebuild for the future,” as a growing tone, as Daniels highlighted from Lloyd’s piece.

Now, with LeBron on the Lakers, the Cleveland Cavaliers are focused on continuing on in their rebuild, and currently, they still view Love as a core piece for them to help out youngsters such as Collin Sexton, Darius Garland and Kevin Porter Jr., but I still can see why Love would’ve wanted to see the James-Irving duo have one more run alongside him and others at a ring.

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Kyrie did have two years left on his previous deal when the Cavs dealt him, but the now-Brooklyn Net and James didn’t eventually have their fourth championship run. Granted, as LeBron Wire’s Erik Garcia Gundersen pointed out, there were “several reports” involving Irving being “offered in trades prior to his request,” and that “he only pushed for one once he found out.”

On the plus side, the then-Nets pick the Cavaliers received as part of the initial return for Irving from Boston ended up being Sexton, who has exceeded expectations.

Also, thus far this season, Sexton has led Cleveland in scoring with 20.8 points per game, and he was really rolling leading into the NBA’s novel coronavirus-induced season suspension.

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I do again get Love’s take as far as wanting to have seen that ultra-lethal James-Irving duo having one more go with the Cavs, though.