Gregg Popovich received plenty of flak for giving Cleveland Cavaliers veteran Kevin Love a spot on the U.S. men's national basketball team ahead of the Tokyo Olympics after one of the worst seasons of his career.
After the team's first practice at UNLV Tuesday, Popovich explained that Love will be worked harder than many other players on the roster.
"We're going to work his a-- off the next four to five weeks and demand a lot," Popovich said, according to ESPN's Brian Windhorst. "That's going to definitely get him back into the rhythm he needs to be in to continue to play. I think that's one of the big reasons he wanted to do this, so he can get himself back to who he was."
Windhorst notes that Popovich decided to offer Love a spot on the team because his ability to shoot and be rough in the paint fighting for rebounds will be "valuable" going up against some of the European squads Team USA will face in Tokyo.
Love, however, played just 25 games for the Cavs last season due to a calf injury. He averaged 12.2 points, the lowest since his rookie campaign, 7.4 rebounds and 2.5 assists per game while shooting 40.9% from the field and 36.5% from deep.
The 32-year-old has also played just 103 games over the past three years due to injuries and hasn't played for Team USA since the 2012 London Olympics.
It certainly won't be an easy tournament for Love, and it's unclear how much he'll actually play. However, a lot is riding on his performance at the Tokyo Games. If he plays well, the Cavaliers might finally be able to trade him this summer.
Cleveland has been trying to trade Love over the past two seasons, but his injuries, declining performance and hefty contract have prevented the team from offloading him.
Despite all the negativity, Love says he'll do what it takes to succeed in Tokyo.
"I'm 13 years in now, I've heard it all," Love said. "All I can do is go out there and chase the game, let everything fall into place and just bust my a-- and see what I can do for this team.
"I do believe if it's on me to have to pivot in my career for a team to win, I'm more than willing to do that. I do feel like on [the Cavs] or whatever team I end up on or USA team, this is definitely something I can continue to progress in."