On Tuesday afternoon, as Team USA took on Slovenia as a tuneup for the 2014 FIBA World Cup, the focus of the basketball world shifted away from Anthony Davis, Derrick Rose and the rest of that squad gearing up for international competition. Love was officially introduced by his new team, one that should finally get him to the postseason after years of failed seasons with the Minnesota Timberwolves.
As general manager David Griffin said right off the bat, the Cavs had been trying to get Love for over a year:
Naturally, LeBron James played a key part in the pursuit. So too did David Blatt, the Cavs' new head coach. In fact, Blatt expressed his desire for a floor-spacing big long ago, per Griffin:
And in Love's own words, it didn't take very long for him to figure out where he wanted to be during the 2014-15 season. As soon as James was on board, he was going to follow suit, assuming the T-Wolves and Cavs could come to a reasonable agreement:
Love would later reveal that he was James' first phone call, which had to make him feel quite coveted.
That said, it's impossible to forget that Love only has one year left on his contract. At the conclusion of the 2014-15 campaign, he can hit the open market and choose where he plays next, whether that sees him remain in Cleveland, go home to California with the Los Angeles Lakers or flee for a team that hasn't yet become a prominent destination.
Will he choose Cleveland?
On his first day holding a Cavs jersey, Love intimated that he's willing to commit to the franchise for more than one year, though the power forward curiously indicated he and the front office hadn't discussed any long-term deals:
That stands in contrast to the lack of harmony that had been evident as part of the Cleveland narrative in recent years. The culture is quickly changing, as indicated by the Kyrie Irving contract extension, the James homecoming and the Love acquisition:
Love was also particularly happy about the potential for on-court chemistry.
Revealing that he believes the NBA is transitioning to more of a court-spacing game, he appeared quite excited to be filling that role—and so much more, of course—for the Cavaliers:
Rebounding will be more of a challenge next to Anderson Varejao, but it's not as though he's going to struggle on the boards. He thrived next to Nikola Pekovic while he was still with the Timberwolves and should continue to assert himself as a dominant force after a missed shot:
Chances are, Love will remain one of the best glass-eaters in the NBA, regardless of which team he plays for. I suppose his jersey number won't affect that skill either, though it was the subject of much discussion during his presser:
Another popular topic was his relationship with James.
Not only did he not see this move coming, but Love revealed that he started building up a relationship with the four-time MVP during the 2012 Olympics in London. He was a floor-spacing big under Mike Krzyzewski back then while working toward a gold medal, and now he'll be hoping to win another title alongside James.
But, as the two-time champion told him, that's going to take some mental preparation. After all, Love has never played in so much as a playoff game, much less a deep postseason run that requires immense physical and mental readiness:
Thus begins a new era in Cleveland.
Gone are the days in which Irving and Dion Waiters attempted to generate offense during one loss after another. Departed are the seasons that resulted in lottery finishes and led to multiple No. 1 picks. No longer will the Cavaliers serve as a punching bag for the rest of the NBA.
With James and Love teaming up, there's finally reason for optimism.
And lots of it.
You could see that plastered across Love's face as he sat on the stage next to Griffin, grinning from ear to ear for the first time in a while—at least in a public, basketball-related setting. Part of the reason has to be that the Cavaliers, unlike the 2010-11 Miami Heat, now appear to be, as Bleacher Report's Ethan Skolnick writes, "the darlings of the NBA's myth-making media establishment."
Whatever the reason, if there was one biggest takeaway from his first appearance as a member of the Cavs, it was how happy Love looked, an emotion that stands in stark contrast to the one at the end of his tenure in Minnesota.