INDEPENDENCE, Ohio -- He's unable to help his teammates in the NBA Finals, but injured forward Kevin Love intends to play for the Cavaliers next season.
Love, sidelined by a left shoulder injury that required surgery, can opt out of his contract after this season. But the three-time All-Star indicated yesterday -- in his first comments since having his shoulder repaired -- that he'll stay with Cleveland.
Love was asked if there is any question that he will return next season. "I truly haven't even thought about it,'' he said, "but as I mentioned, I expect to be suiting up by Game 1 of next year."
For the Cavs?
"Yes, sir," he said.
Love, who has lost nearly 15 pounds during his recovery, said it has been difficult to watch from afar as his teammates advanced to the NBA Finals, which will begin Thursday at Golden State. But he said he's excited for them and looking forward to traveling to away games for the first time since getting hurt.
He has exchanged text messages with Celtics center Kelly Olynyk, who yanked Love's arm from the socket while going for a loose ball in Game 4 of their opening-round playoff series. After that game, Love said he believed Olynyk intentionally tried to hurt him, but he feels differently now.
"I initially was very emotional about the play," he said. "I think everybody thinks, 'Oh, he's going to be able to come back, pop it right in,' but at the time when it happened, I kind of knew. And about a week went by, I reached out to Kelly, sent him a text and said, 'Hey, it's all good. It was a tough play.' And we just move on from there."
After not making the playoffs during six seasons with Minnesota, Love arrived in Cleveland via trade last summer with the hope of winning a title. Now he's a spectator.
"That's the hardest part," he said. "I had really wanted this, wanted to be a part of this run, and then that fourth game in the first series, got hurt on a tough play. So it's something that I look at as an opportunity. I think all injuries are. And I'll continue to work and try to get healthy over the summer and come back ready to play Game 1.
"I'm super-happy for these guys, proud of these guys. And there's times where I've felt down because of my shoulder and they've been here to pick me back up. And that's kind of how it's been the whole year."