Cavaliers power forward Kevin Love seemed almost like a courtesy pick for the U.S. men’s basketball camp, which has started training camp in Las Vegas.
Love is coming off a career-worst season, missing most of the year and averaging 12.2 points and 7.4 rebounds. He seems to understand the Cavs are counting on him to bounce back, and that the U.S. needs for him more to more than just show up.
He also understands the criticism from fans and trade rumors that follow.
“In a way I understand [the criticism] because I came off a season where I didn’t play that many games and wasn’t at the top of my game,” Love said, via ESPN’s Brian Windhorst. “For me to come here, I feel I have a lot to prove.”
Love, 32, is also said to be attempting to increase his trade value, and a strong performance with the U.S. this summer could enhance such a cause. A recent report said the Nets are Love’s preferred destination should be traded or receive a contract buyout from the Cavs.
But for now, the focus is on the Tokyo Olympics, which tip off later this month.
“We’re going to work his ass off the next four to five weeks and demand a lot,” U.S. coach Gregg Popovich said after the team’s first practice at UNLV, via Windhorst. “That’s going to definitely get him back into the rhythm he needs to be in to continue to play. I think that’s one of the big reasons he wanted to do this, so he can get himself back to who he was.”
Love has two years and $60 million left on his contract. He said his job is to do his best for the Cavs, but also left the door open for the possibility that he may be somewhere else.
“I’m 13 years in now, I’ve heard it all,” Love said. “All I can do is go out there and chase the game, let everything fall into place and just bust my ass and see what I can do for this team.
“I do believe if it’s on me to have to pivot in my career for a team to win, I’m more than willing to do that. I do feel like on [the Cavs] or whatever team I end up on or USA team, this is definitely something I can continue to progress in.”
Along with Love, the U.S. roster consists of the following players: Kevin Durant (Nets), Damian Lillard (Trail Blazers), Bradley Beal (Wizards), Bam Adebayo (Heat), Devin Booker (Suns), Jerami Grant (Pistons), Draymond Green (Warriors), Jrue Holiday (Bucks), Zach LaVine (Bulls), Khris Middleton (Bucks) and Jayson Tatum (Celtics).