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Kevin Love says he expects himself to return after New Year

Kevin Love, Cavs

Appearing on ESPN’s The Jump with co-host Rachel Nichols, YES Network’s Richard Jefferson and teammate Channing Frye, Cleveland Cavaliers power forward Kevin Love would discuss an array of topics, from teammate J.R. Smith’s trade request to an update on his recovery timeline following foot surgery.

On the latter topic, which isn’t as hot as the news that Smith wouldn’t rejoin the Cavs but more important — in regards to the team’s success — Love’s curious answer leaves some doubt about just how long he’ll remain in a wine and gold jersey.

“There’s just no telling at this time with the weight-bearing injury what it is going to be like moving forward, but I expect to be back sometime after the new year,” Love said.

That Love won’t be back until after the New Year is of note not only because, per The Undefeated‘s Marc J. Spears, he was initially expected to miss six weeks after his surgery. As the surgery was completed on November 2nd, that gave Love a mid-December return date.

However, Love doesn’t expect to be back until at least two weeks after that time. An insignificant difference perhaps but his extended timetable does keep him out just long enough for the team to lose enough games by the All-Star Break to make trading him one of their most reasonable options if they want to ensure they acquire a top-five or top-10 pick. Averaging 19.0 points and 13.5 rebounds per game this season prior to his injury and having shown himself as one of the league’s most skilled big men, Love’s absence through three weeks has put a noticeable dent in the team’s scoring, ability to find mismatches and second unit play.

Of course, having been re-signed to be the face of the franchise, Cleveland may not have much motivation to trade Love outside of securing a higher draft pick. That said, if “tanking” was part of the team’s plan, Love wouldn’t have wanted to return anyways; that’s what also makes the prospects of a Love trade so possible.

When the five-time All-Star returns to the starting lineup, there will be plenty of speculation on his future until the dust clears and he’s still on the roster after the trade deadline. Then, the rumors will be whispers waiting for the offseason to raise their voice once again.

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