Cleveland Cavaliers head coach Tyronn Lue had to deal with some criticism after he was named the NBA's Eastern Conference All-Star coach with just three games under his belt, but now he's the one handing out critiques after his power forward, Kevin Love, was left off the All-Star roster.
Dave McMenamin of ESPN.com provided Lue's take on the snubbing:
I just thought, in this league it's always been about winning and winning has always been rewarded. Being No. 1 in the East and Kevin being one of four guys in the NBA to average a double-double on a winning team, I've just never seen being a first-place team and getting one guy in. I've never seen that before.
As McMenamin pointed out, Lue's math is off a bit. Love is scoring 15.7 points and grabbing 10.8 rebounds per game and is actually one of seven players on winning teams to average a double-double. Lue's argument is diminished even more so considering Detroit Pistons center Andre Drummond is the only one of the aforementioned group who was named to the All-Star team.
Love is a three-time All-Star but did not receive that designation in his first season with Cleveland when he finished averaging 16.4 and 9.7.
The power forward said he felt like the teams were "well picked" but will still use the snub as motivation, per Fox Sports Ohio:
FOX Sports Ohio @FOXSportsOH
Is there any extra motivation for @kevinlove being left off of the @NBA All-Star team? #Cavs https://t.co/GUdJrLp8M81/29/2016, 9:14:16 PM
McMenamin said there have been rumblings that Love and Kyrie Irving being left off the roster was a result of the untimely firing of Lue's predecessor, David Blatt, who was let go after the Cavaliers started 30-11. LeBron James was voted by the fans as a starter, but it was the coaches who named the reserves. James danced around the subject when asked, per McMenamin:
"I haven't seen any of the coaches speak out on it, so I really haven't noticed it much," James said. "But, we got to earn our respect, as a team and as a franchise we got to continue to earn our respect. It's just another notion of that."
There is no way to ever know if this was the coaches' way of protesting Blatt's firing, but it's not like the other power forwards on the East roster aren't deserving. Chris Bosh is averaging 19.2 points and 7.6 rebounds for the 25-21 Miami Heat, while Paul Millsap is dropping 18.0 points, 8.8 rebounds and 3.4 assists per contest with the current No. 4 seed Atlanta Hawks.
Chris Fedor of Cleveland.com said the coaches got it right by leaving Love off the roster:
Overall, his numbers aren't bad. They're actually pretty good. But that's not the standard. Being All-Star worthy is a different conversation, one reserved for the top performers at their respective positions in the first half of this season.
Beyond that, Love's argument is hurt by what he's done in December and January, the months when All-Star resumes tend to get solidified.
Love is averaging 13.0 points on 118-of-308 (38.3 percent) from the field, including 40-of-128 (31.2 percent) from three-point range to go with 10.1 rebounds.
When it comes to All-Star Games, there are always going to be snubs, and it's worth arguing that Love should be in Toronto for the festivities. However, with numbers down from a year ago and other deserving players on the roster, this feels more like a coach just sticking up for his player.