Kevin Love has been linked to trade rumors in the last couple of years but the five-time All-Star has remained in Cleveland, even after the latest trade deadline.
Last December, the Cavs were reportedly willing to listen to offers for Love’s services. Love had just signed a four-year $120.4M extension last summer and looked like he wanted to remain in Cleveland. However, after the Cavs’ free fall this season, the trade that everyone has been anticipating may become a reality.
The Cavaliers are ready to listen to offers for Kevin Love, sources tell @wojespn.
Here's Woj on the trade market for Love: pic.twitter.com/M5BprMtAkG
— SportsCenter (@SportsCenter) December 7, 2019
Love reportedly said he preferred to be traded to a contender and that didn’t come as a surprise after his Cavs made four consecutive trips to the NBA Finals during LeBron’s last four seasons there. With Cleveland’s current line-up may be at least five years from making the postseason, Maybe he doesn’t feel like he’s part of the plan anymore and it might be good if he moves to another team.
The season is still suspended and the latest rumors are that it is going to be shut down for good. If that is indeed the case, then the next order of business for the NBA will be the draft, then free agency. Love isn’t a free agent as he still has three years on his Cavs contract but with the situation in Cleveland, it won’t be a surprise if Kevin Love requests for a trade.
Let’s take a look at the possible trade partners for the Cavs this summer:
Portland Trail Blazers
Last December, it was reported that Kevin Love would prefer playing for his hometown. And that’s not surprising because we’ve seen many NBA players wanting to play for their hometown teams. We saw Dwyane Wade play in Chicago, and last season, Kawhi Leonard and Paul George for the LA Clippers. So Kevin Love going to Portland is not a new issue.
The Blazers struggled for form this season as they were hurt by injuries to frontline players like Jusuf Nurkic, Rodney Hood, and Zach Collins. They acquired Hassan Whiteside and signed Carmelo Anthony but despite having a very good line-up on paper, the Blazers were out of the Top 8 in the West when play was suspended. With Damian Lillard and C.J. McCollum now 29 and 28 years old, respectively, the Blazers’ time to win is now or never.
There were rumors that the Blazers could be breaking up the Dame-CJ tandem because of the team’s poor performance this season but if the Blazers can acquire Kevin Love then the plot could change.
The Blazers were expected to trade Hassan Whiteside’s expiring contract at the deadline but they didn’t. Maybe they plan to keep him next season but I don’t think he will be worth the $27M he made this season. The scenario could be Portland re-signs Whiteside to a smaller deal and they could trade Jusuf Nurkic, and Trevor Ariza plus draft picks for Kevin Love.
Kevin Love has a very good relationship with Phoenix Suns GM James Jones. Th3 39-year old Jones was Love’s teammate in 2016. After winning two titles in Miami, Jones followed LeBron James in Cleveland and he added a third ring with the Cavs. Jones has a good young core in Phoenix led by Devin Booker, Deandre Ayton, Kelly Oubre Jr., and Mikal Bridges. Phoenix started well this season but was 26-39 when the season was paused.
Booker is unquestionably Phoenix’s star and Ayton should be there with him in the long run while the rest of the cast for me is trade assets. Kevin Love would be the veteran presence that this team needs to go to the next level. We’ve seen how Booker has improved over the years and Ayton seems to be the right big man for the Suns. Phoenix has $91M in guaranteed salaries for the 2020-21 season. The Suns will still be within the projected $115M salary cap next season if they will trade Kelly Oubre jr. and/or Mikal Bridges plus draft picks for Kevin Durant.
I know Oubre has plenty of potentials and is just 24-years old. But if the Suns want to make that leap, they need someone like Kevin Love who not only has the scoring prowess to help Booker and the rebounding ability to help Ayton but also the championship experience. I’m not sure if Kevin Love is looking at Phoenix right now but he once said that Jones was one of the best teammates he’s ever had. Jones wasn’t considering any trades last December but after how the season has unfolded, he might want to get Love on board to help him win next year.
The Miami Heat made a huge leap this season. After missing the playoffs last year, the Heat traded for Jimmy Butler and were able to sign three high-quality rookies in Tyler Herro, Kendrick Nunn, and Duncan Robinson. The arrival of Butler, these three rookies, and the All-Star season put up by Bam Adebayo quickly made the Heat contenders in the Eastern Conference.
Kendrick Nunn has taken over the starting point guard chores from Goran Dragic and the Heat has played a fast tempo style. Dragic will be a free agent this summer and the Heat will free up $19M if he leaves Miami.
The Heat has a total of $82M in guaranteed salaries for the 2020-21 season and they have more than enough cap space to pick up Kevin Love.
They will probably toss in the underperforming Andre Iguodala and exercise the player option on Goran Dragic to facilitate this trade.
Dragic has fallen out of place in Miami’s current style although he made the most of the diminished role given to him this past season. Meanwhile, Love’s ability to knock down the three-ball fits well with the abilities of Miami’s young core. Love and Butler will provide the team with leadership and the Heat can be title contenders right away.
The Boston Celtics had a great 2019-20 season thanks to the emergence of Jayson Tatum as an All-Star and Jaylen Brown having his best year ever. Boston also acquired a terrific point guard in Kemba Walker and they also had a better season from Gordon Hayward. But while you think that this is already a perfect team for the future, maybe you are incorrect.
I know that Brad Stevens doesn’t mind about the player positions but when you look at his roster, the likes of Jayson Tatum, Jaylen Brown, and Gordon Hayward play much alike. There is no question that the three of them have proven that they can play together but what if Danny Ainge would be interested in adding a rebounding big who can shoot better than Daniel Theis.
This has been Boston’s makeshift center but if they can land Kevin Love, he would be a better option. Not only is he the much better scorer, but Love is also a former league rebounding leader who can be a demon off the glass if needed. Hayward has a player option left in his contract and given his performance and recent injury, I think he will pick it up knowing he won’t get the same salary elsewhere right now. Ainge may not necessarily be interested in Love but to get three Love for the next three years, and Hayward for at least just one year, he may be tempted to go for Love.