Kevin Love's back spasms have vanished. Those trade rumors won't go away.
Cleveland's All-Star forward expects to play Saturday night in New York after missing the last two games with a lower back issue he said is now "under control." The 28-year-old practiced Friday and said afterward that he's confident he won't miss any more time.
"We're hoping that we've got a pretty good handle on it now," Love said. "It's always hard to kind of tell when you can't see it. It's not quite like a concussion in that way, but as far as not being able to see the injury and it spasmed, and having to deal with that for a week or maybe five days at a time, it's tough and it lingers. But I feel like we've got a pretty good handle on it now."
But while Love's back trouble has eased, the speculation about his future persists.
For weeks, Love has been mentioned in trade speculation involving the Knicks and Carmelo Anthony. Although the teams have not publicly acknowledged any talks and a Love-for-Anthony swap straight up is highly unlikely, it remains a hot topic around the NBA as the Feb. 23 trade deadline approaches.
Cavaliers General Manager David Griffin would like to add some pieces — a backup point guard and rim-protecting big man — to Cleveland's roster and it's obvious that Love could bring the team multiple players in a trade. But Love's contract (an average salary of $22.6 million over the next four seasons) limits potential partners and the Cavaliers would need to replace his 19.9 points and 11 rebounds per game.
The Cavaliers could deal Love, but finding the right match isn't so simple. Love laughed when the rumblings of him landing in New York were mentioned to him following practice.
"I predicted that," he said. "I said it doesn't matter if I have an All-Star year or its one start or the other, it's always going to be there, right?"
But while fans and media members discuss the possibility of the NBA champions dealing one of their best players, Love doesn't think he'll be traded.
"I don't," he said. "I expect to be here for a long time."
Fines handed down
The NBA has fined Hawks forward Taurean Prince and Heat forward James Johnson $25,000 each for their roles in a scuffle during Wednesday's game in Miami.
Prince was ejected midway through the fourth quarter for pulling down Hassan Whiteside from behind as the Heat center went up for a shot. Prince was given a flagrant-2 foul. Johnson then retaliated in Whiteside's defense and was ejected after getting a technical foul.
That was about the only moment in which the game was competitive after halftime. The Heat beat the Hawks 116-93. The NBA announced the fines Friday.