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Jalen Rose’s favorite token white guy, Kevin Love, better invest in some icepacks. With the U.S. men’s national basketball team having started practice this week, head coach Greg Popovich made it a point to address Love’s conditioning and performance. “We’re going to work his a– off the next four to five weeks and demand a lot,” said Popovich, per ESPN’s Brian Windhorst.
A controversial add to the Olympic team roster because of both his complexion, and his ho-hum recent production, Popovich is hoping to unearth the Kevin Love of yesteryear “(Working hard is) going to definitely get him back into the rhythm he needs to be in to continue to play.” Popovich told Windhorst. “I think that’s one of the big reasons he wanted to do this, so he can get himself back to who he was.”
Just demanding a lot might not be enough. Pop would be wise to seek out an assist from Lady Luck to get the 32-year-old Love back to playing at a respectable level. In the last three seasons, he’s played in just 103 games for Cleveland. In the limited time he’s been healthy (he saw action in just 25 games this season), the results haven’t been great. He’s coming off the worst season of his career, after posting averages of just 12.2 points and 7.4 rebounds.
Fortunately for Love, the minimal numbers haven’t had an effect on his hefty salary. He has two years and a guaranteed $60 million left on his (up until this point, untradeable) contract. He earned more than $1 million per game played in the 2020-2021 season. Proving there’s decent pay in the understaffed Cleveland job market.
A successful (and healthy) Olympic run for KLove would do a lot to increase his value around the league, something that’s not lost on the current Cavalier: “I’m 13 years in now, I’ve heard it all,” Love told Windhorst. “All I can do is go out there and chase the game, let everything fall into place and just bust my a– 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.”
He’ll have plenty of opportunities. He’s one of just four “bigs” on the US roster. Joining Draymond Green, Kevin Durant and Bam Adebayo.