Portland Trail Blazers star point guard Damian Lillard requested a trade to the Miami Heat over two months ago, yet he’s still a member of the Blazers with the start of the 2023-24 NBA regular season approximately a month and a half away.
Heat big man Kevin Love touched on the uncertainty surrounding the Lillard trade talks right now.
“There certainly are challenges because I think in life the unknown is scary or misleading and something that can rub people the wrong way,” Love told the Miami Herald. “But I think part of being a veteran and my role as one of the leaders or somebody who has some influence, the relationships with my teammates and understanding who might be coming and who might be going. Finding that common ground and seeing how I can get the best out of them and understanding the fluidity of a season, understanding that things can change so fast in a season and in this business. Making sure guys are right mentally and that can be any player on the roster. Whether it be Kyle [Lowry], who is in his 18th season, whether it be Tyler [Herro], who was hurt and who has been in discussions all summer long, Duncan [Robinson], who was in and out of the lineup last year, [Nikola Jovic], who just came off a silver medal and who has played all the way through the summer, the younger guys.
“There are so many different dynamics on the team and finding ways to get the best out of guys is going to be huge for me. So wearing different hats and at the same time being just authentically and unapologetically myself is the best way to approach it and go about it. But it is definitely multi-faceted and layered, but this is the NBA. This type of stuff is just constant and always in motion.”
Love was selected with the No. 5 overall pick in the 2008 NBA Draft after a one-season stint playing college basketball at the University of California, Los Angeles. He was one of the best players in the nation during his single season with UCLA, the 2007-08 season, as he averaged 17.5 points, 10.6 rebounds, 1.9 assists and 1.4 blocks per game in 39 games played with the team (38 starts).
Love also scored the ball with impressive efficiency from the field, as he converted 55.9 percent of his field-goal attempts and 35.4 percent of his three-point attempts.
His contributions translated into a whole lot of wins for the Bruins. They finished the 2007-08 season with a fantastic 35-4 record and made it all the way to the NCAA Tournament’s Final Four, where they lost to the University of Memphis by a final score of 78-63. Love scored 12 points and grabbed nine rebounds in the loss.
The 6-foot-8 big man has played for three teams — the Minnesota Timberwolves, Cleveland Cavaliers and Heat — across his 15 seasons in the NBA. He averaged 7.7 points, 5.7 rebounds and 1.9 assists per game in 21 appearances with Miami during the 2022-23 regular season (17 starts).
Arguably Love’s best season in the NBA came during the 2013-14 season when he was a member of the Timberwolves. He was arguably the best power forward in the league, as he averaged 26.1 points, 12.5 rebounds, 4.4 assists and 0.8 steals per game in 77 regular-season games (all starts).
Those numbers were good enough for Love to earn an All-Star nod as well as a spot on the All-NBA Second Team.
Love is no longer the player he was with the Timberwolves during the early part of his career, but he was still a valuable member of the Heat team that reached the 2023 NBA Finals. Expect Love to continue to serve as a productive role player for the Heat during the 2023-24 regular season.