INDEPENDENCE — Kevin Love’s return to the Cavaliers could be days away.
The All-Star forward, who has only played four games this season, took part in a full-contact, 5-on-5 scrimmage Thursday, a major step in his recovery from left foot surgery.
“He actually did pretty well,” Cavs coach Larry Drew said following the encouraging workout. “Moved around really well. Got a little winded, which is expected. It’s the first time he’s really been in a contact situation where we actually went up and down and there was actual contact. I thought he moved really well, shot the basketball well.”
Love has been out since late October after undergoing surgery on his left foot, which he injured in Cleveland’s exhibition opener against Boston. The 30-year-old tried to play through the pain early in the regular season before doctors recommended surgery.
The Cavs have been anxiously awaiting Love’s return. Initially, the club hoped he would be back in the lineup by the end of December. Then his returned was bumped back to mid-January. Now, they’re pleased he’s coming back at all.
Cleveland hosts Dallas on Saturday, but Drew said it would be “pushing it” for Love to play then.
“We’re just kind of waiting to see how he is after going through a full practice with contact,” Drew said. “We’ll see how he is when he comes in tomorrow. If there are no setbacks, we’ll have another practice and see how he does. But I can’t project when he will actually be ready to play a game.”
Drew was excited to see Love run and get roughed up by teammates.
“We know he can shoot the ball, but just his movement is what’s been really encouraging,” Drew said. “How he’s been moving around, how he’s been planting, how he’s been cutting. Because any time you come off any type of injury that deals with a leg, a foot, an ankle, whatever, you’re always looking to see how a guy responds to contact.
“It’s one thing to go out and get shots up on your own. But when you actually have people kinda banging with you, knocking you off your course. That can take a toll on you. We’re hoping there are no setbacks, right now it looks like there aren’t any. We’ll see how he is tomorrow.”
After facing the Mavericks, the Cavs host Boston on Tuesday.
The 30-year-old Love signed a four-year, $120 million contract extension last summer. He had hoped to keep the Cavs in playoff contention as they rebuild in their first season since LeBron James left as a free agent.
But the Cavs have been hit hard by injuries — forward Tristan Thompson is still out with a sprained foot— and are just 11-41.
Drew has been encouraged by the team’s recent play. The Cavs have won two straight heading into their matchup with the Mavericks.