Only five days away from what would have been his fourth All-Star Game appearance and first for Cleveland, star forward Kevin Love underwent surgery in New York City on Tuesday morning to remove a “loose body” from his knee. He is expected to miss at least six weeks.
Never fear, LeBron James is here. James had 25 points and 14 assists Tuesday.
While expressing empathy for his injured teammate before the morning shoot at Target Center, James made it clear his back is broad and his legs still sturdy, even though Love and starting guard J.R. Smith are out injured.
“I’ll rest when I retire,” he said.
“As long as I’m in the lineup, we’ve got a chance, all right. We’re good. Kev is out. Kev is out for an extended period of time. J.R. has been out. But I’m in the lineup. I’ll be suiting up. We got a chance against anybody, so I ain’t worried.”
And don’t worry about extra burdens placed upon a 32-year-old body that plays into June every year.
“No, no, it has been a burden on me since I was drafted,” James said. “Why does it change now? Ain’t nothing change. I’ll have my guys ready to play every single night.”
That next night was Wednesday against the Wolves, Love’s former team for six seasons.
Back to playing at an All-Star level after he was traded to Cleveland in the summer of 2014, Love is expected out until at least early April, just in time for the playoffs.
“He was having that All-Star year and this is [the level] he wanted to get back to after coming from Minnesota a couple years ago,” James said. “He was an All-Star and he obviously had to fit himself into a different role here. We all did. He finally got back to the point where he felt like he validated himself again in this league and then he has an injury like this.
“He’ll miss Sunday, which sucks, and he’ll miss eight weeks, which sucks. But we got guys who are ready.”
Pieces of history
White, blue and black Timberwolves jerseys with his former No. 7 hung in newly signed Cavaliers forward Derrick Williams’ locker before the game.
His mom collects and frames jerseys representing all the teams for which her son has played. That’s five NBA teams now after the Wolves’ former No. 2 overall pick in 2011 signed a 10-day contract with the Cavs last week.
“I like the city, the fans, the guys on the team,” Williams said about his two-plus years in Minnesota. “It wasn’t too long ago, I got drafted here. Every time I come back, I want to play well. Hopefully, it’s one of those nights again.”
Williams finished with 13 points and six rebounds in 23 minutes.
• Recently signed Wolves guard Lance Stephenson fell awkwardly during the second quarter and had to leave the game because of a sprained ankle. He was helped to the locker room and did not return.
• Wolves guard Zach LaVine underwent surgery in Los Angeles to repair a torn knee ligament. Wolves coach Tom Thibodeau said the surgery “went well.”
• The Cavaliers started veteran forward Channing Frye in Love’s power-forward spot. Guard Iman Shumpert returned to action after he missed three games because of a sprained ankle.