To a man, the Cleveland Cavaliers cautioned their grand experiment would take time.
But as their season now heads into its second half, the clock sounds painfully loud.
Timberwolves owner Glen Taylor probably should have just wished Kevin Love well when his franchise traded its three-time All-Star to Cleveland last summer.
Instead, he did what he always does: He answered questions plainly, honestly.
Just moments after the Wolves proudly welcomed newcomers Andrew Wiggins, Anthony Bennett and Thad Young at the Minnesota State Fair, Taylor made national headlines by questioning how Love would adjust to third-wheel status behind LeBron James and Kyrie Irving. He wondered aloud whether the Cavs might actually insist Love play some defense.
His words sounded petty then but ring true for now.
Love forced his way out of Minnesota, saying all he ever wanted was to win. Last week, he sat with his head down in Phoenix after his team had lost its sixth consecutive game — its first one with James back after an eight-game injury absence — and for the ninth time in 10 games.
When a Minneapolis reporter approached, the only thing that differentiated the scene from any night the previous six years was equipment guy Clayton Wilson didn’t shuffle by to pick up sneakers Love had set out at his locker postgame.
Love didn’t play in the fourth quarter of a 107-100 loss to the Suns. Cavs rookie coach David Blatt sat him down in favor of Tristan Thompson, just like Love didn’t play late in a game at Orlando last month. In Thursday’s victory over the Lakers in Los Angeles, he sat near game’s end because of back spasms and missed Friday’s victory over the Clippers because of them.
Hours before he played in Phoenix, the Northeast Ohio Media Group quoted Love saying he will opt-in this summer for the final year of his contract and stay in Cleveland at least another season. That came just days after reports had him headed to Los Angeles after season’s end.
“Well, that’s not what I really want to talk about right now,” Love said. “Just a few days ago, they were saying something completely different. I just want to win basketball games.”
Tick, tick …
The Cavaliers reached the midway point of their season with Friday’s win over the Clippers in Los Angeles. At 21-20, they are sixth in the East, even behind Milwaukee, in a season of change that brought Love in August and added Denver’s Timofey Mozgov and New York’s J.R. Smith and Iman Shumpert two weeks ago in trades a skeptic might deem desperate. In between, they lost injured Anderson Varejao for the season.
At one point, they had won eight consecutive games, 12 of 15 and were 17-10 shortly before James went out injured.
It wasn’t supposed to be this way, right? Media reports and social-media speculation have questioned Blatt’s immediate future and Love’s long-term future, and much was made when James pushed Blatt out of the way Tuesday while Blatt argued with an official. Both men said James simply protected Blatt from getting a technical foul.
Of course, it was supposed to be this way. The Cavs had said — and continue to say — it’ll take time.
But is time running out?
“Look, time is not something that any of us have a lot of,” Blatt said philosophically. “You have to maximize when you can and as you can. I’m a realistic person and I know when you put a lot of moving parts together on the fly, it’s not always the smoothest thing. At the same time, we’ve got good, good players and good, good pieces and we will find our way, without a doubt.”
Tick, tick, tick …
NBA SHORT TAKES
The Bucks' Brandon Knight did an interview in London last week.
Bound for Europe
NBA Commissioner Adam Silver didn’t make it to Mexico in November, but he traveled to London for Thursday’s Milwaukee-New York game and articulated his vision for the NBA’s future in Europe.
He predicted the NFL likely will put a team in Europe before his league but said he sees a day when there will four NBA franchises there — not just one.
Silver said the league’s complex schedule necessitates a European division, not just a single team. That would mean four franchises in countries — England, Spain, France, Germany — that have or will have NBA-quality arenas.
“We’d have to put both feet down,” Silver told reporters. “We’re not there yet. I know that as much growth as we’ve seen, we have a long way to go before we can sustain four franchises in Europe. On the other hand, I believe it’s our manifest destiny to expand.”
Trader Dan never rests
Danny Ainge is back at it.
Boston’s general manager wheeled and dealed his team to the 2008 NBA title by swapping young players and draft picks he had accumulated until he was able to place Kevin Garnett and Ray Allen beside Paul Pierce.
Now he is collecting pieces again. He has made nine trades with nine different teams since the start of the season, including four trades made in five NBA business days ending Thursday. The Celtics now could have as many as 14 picks — including six first-round picks perhaps — in the next two drafts. Last week, Ainge made two separate three-way deals, including one that sent forward Jeff Green to Memphis.
Where the Rivers meet
Ainge acquired guard Austin Rivers from New Orleans one day, traded him to the Los Angeles Clippers and Rivers’ dad, Doc, the next. According to the Elias Sports Bureau, Rivers will become the first son in NBA history to play for his father. Coby Karl briefly was a Denver Nugget in 2010, but never played for his father. George Karl was on medical leave battling throat cancer.
WOLVES' WEEK AHEAD
Monday: 1 p.m. at Charlotte (No TV)
Wednesday: 7 p.m. vs. Dallas (FSN)
Friday: 7 p.m. vs. New Orleans (FSN)
Player to watch: Anthony Davis, Pelicans
LeBron James and Kevin Durant are nice, little players, but here’s the future. Singular in both talent and eyebrow, he has nine 30-point, 10-rebound games and four 25-point, 10-rebound, five-blocked shot games already this season.
"I'll carry you to the bus if you want."
Wolves rookie Zach LaVine to veteran Mo Williams after Williams scored a franchise-record 52 points in a streak-busting victory at Indiana on Tuesday and then asked the rook to carry something to the bus for him.