Kevin Love won’t be able to help the Cavaliers down the stretch this season.
The All-Star forward will miss at least six weeks after undergoing arthroscopic surgery on his left knee Tuesday, a blow to the defending NBA champions as they try to lock up the top seed in the Eastern Conference and home-court advantage in the playoffs.
Love, who is having his best season with Cleveland, had a “loose body” removed from his knee by orthopedic surgeon David Altchek in New York, the Cavs said. Altchek surgically repaired Love’s shoulder during the 2015 playoffs.
The Cavs said Love will be sidelined approximately six weeks, which would have him returning by April 1. The playoffs start that month.
The 28-year-old former UCLA star had complained of soreness and swelling in his knee following Saturday’s 125-109 win over Denver. The team did not disclose results of an MRI and said Monday that Love would seek a second opinion.
Love is averaging 20 points and 11.1 rebounds in his third season for the Cavaliers, who are in Minnesota to play their second-to-last game before the All-Star break.
Love, who recently missed some games with back spasms, finally seems at home in Cleveland after two sometimes turbulent seasons. He has blended in with fellow stars LeBron James and Kyrie Irving, giving the Cavs a “Big 3” as potent as any trio in the league.
His absence will put further stress on Cleveland’s depth and could force general manager David Griffin to make a major move before the Feb. 23 trading deadline. Love’s name had been floated in trade rumors for weeks, but following some recent strong performances, Coach Tyronn Lue dismissed the notion that the four-time All-Star was going anywhere.
The Cavs have been dealing with injuries all season.
Guard J.R. Smith is recovering from surgery to repair a badly broken thumb, and the Cavs traded center Chris Andersen, who suffered a season-ending knee injury in December.
Griffin added shooting specialist Kyle Korver in a trade, and the team is expected to sign Derrick Williams for the remainder of the season after giving him a 10-day contract last week.