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David Blatt tried to clarify comments about Kevin Love not being a ‘max player’

David Blatt, perhaps already under siege as Cleveland Cavaliers head coach, arguably created an unnecessary and unneeded mini-controversy with comments he made about Kevin Love following the team’s 103-84 loss to the Sacramento Kings on Sunday. On Monday, he did his very best to clarify what he meant, perhaps in an attempt to take away some of the perceived sting of the potentially inflammatory comments.

After Sunday’s loss, the team’s fifth-straight and eighth in its last 10 (and not coincidentally the eighth game in a row LeBron James has missed), Blatt bristled at a reporter’s suggestion that Love is a “max player,” saying “But Kev’s not a max player yet, is he?”

Many interpreted that Blatt’s comments were intended as a very public critique of Love. But to hear it from Cavs coach, that is nowhere near the truth.

Blatt went into defensive mode during Monday’s team practice in Phoenix ahead of the Cavs’ game with the Suns on Tuesday, arguing that if there’s any perception that he was ripping one of his three star players, it was unintended as well as subsequently misinterpreted.

“I really don’t pay a lot of attention to social media but I think my comment was either misunderstood or misconstrued,” Blatt said, per the Cleveland Plain-Dealer. “I was simply saying that with our team, he does not have a max contract because we aren’t allowed to talk to him about anything until after the season is over.

“That was really where I was going with that. I think that’s very unfortunate the way that turned out. That’s the way of the world sometimes. I guess I have to be clearer in my thoughts.”

As noted by several outlets, while Love technically isn’t a “max player” in the purest sense of the term, the four-year, $60 million extension he signed with the Minnesota Timberwolves was just a shade under the maximum deal allowed under the NBA’s Collective Bargaining Agreement. Love’s contract terms call for a $17 million player option next season, which means he could exercise the opt-out provision in the deal after this season. To make such a comment that can be interpreted in an unflattering manner — notwithstanding whether it was unintended or not — arguably wasn’t the wisest move by the first-year coach given Love’s uncertain future status with the team.

Love, meanwhile, tried to downplay the perceived severity of Blatt’s comments. After reportedly having a one-on-one with his coach, Love implied that any concerns regarding the meaning behind the comments have been quelled.

“There was obviously a reaction, not from me,” said Love. “I wanted to get the context of it all but once I got the context and what he was talking about, he’s right. We can’t talk about anything about this summer or contracts or anything of that nature so I just let it roll off.”

(photo credit: David Richard-USA TODAY Sports)