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NBA Finals: Trend of stars teaming up has worked out well for Kevin Love

Cleveland Cavaliers center Kevin Love shoots before Game

Cleveland Cavaliers center Kevin Love shoots before Game 3 of basketball's NBA Finals between the Cavaliers and the Golden State Warriors, Wednesday, June 6, 2018, in Cleveland. Credit: AP / Carlos Osorio

CLEVELAND — Things could get very interesting for the Cavaliers this offseason and in the NBA as teams continue to try to align stars in an effort to beat the Warriors. Kevin Love, for one, is all for that approach.

“I think if you have a chance to win in this league, you have to go for it,” he said.

The Cavaliers entered Game 4 of the NBA Finals on Friday night on the brink of elimination, trailing the Warriors 3-0. Cleveland’s next loss could be the end of LeBron James’ time in Cleveland for a second time.

James left in 2010 for Miami to play with Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh, and they won two titles together. Since the acquisition of Kevin Durant, the Warriors have become a super-team, and the Cavaliers don’t have the players to beat them. So many expect James and history to repeat itself.

He can and will get criticized, but it has worked for James. He’s played in eight straight NBA Finals, winning three titles, including one against the Warriors in 2016 before they signed Durant.

When James returned to Cleveland in 2014, he tried to follow a blueprint similar to the one in Miami. Kyrie Irving already was on the Cavaliers, and James worked the phones and recruited Kevin Love to leave Minnesota and join him. Love ultimately was traded to the Cavaliers for 2013 No. 1 pick Anthony Bennett and 2014 No. 1 pick Andrew Wiggins.

So the stars-teaming-up approach has worked for Love as well. The All-Star power forward was putting up big numbers with Minnesota, but he went from never making the playoffs with the Timberwolves to four straight NBA Finals appearances playing alongside James.

“I can remember when I had missed the playoffs six straight years,” Love said. “I kind of decided that I wanted to win and ended up being in a bunch of trade scenarios and ended up here and winning in 2016. Teamed up with LeBron and Kyrie and all those guys that won in the 2016 team.”

It is hard to predict the near future in Cleveland. There is a chance that James will stay, but the general consensus is he’ll be looking to form another super-team that can hoist more trophies. With Irving in Boston now, the window of opportunity has closed on the Cavs.

Love understands there’s always uncertainty involving his future. He seems to be on the trading block every summer. If James leaves, the Cavaliers could go all-in on a rebuild and move Love. He said he hopes to be back in Cleveland next season, but if he is, the Cavaliers may be only a one-man gang.

“I always wanted to be here, always wanted to win here,” Love said. “But it’s probably going to come up. It always does. It’s also good to be wanted. But at the same time, it’s going to be interesting to see what happens. We just don’t know.

“There’s been so much overhaul and so many things that have happened this year, particularly with our team, that you just don’t know when July comes and free agency hits. There could be something interesting that comes up for this team.”

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