The Cleveland Cavaliers announced on Tuesday morning that Kevin Love signed a contract extension with the team worth $120 million for four years. Love only had one more year left on his deal coming into the offseason worth $25 million. There was chatter around the league about what the Cavs would do with Love after LeBron James departed for Los Angeles and left their lone All-Star with a cluster of players on bloated contracts. At present, it appears the Cavs have no intentions of trading Love. That is for the best interest of the team’s long-term plan.
LeBron forcing the Cavs hand into signing his friends, JR Smith and Tristan Thompson, to ludicrous contracts, and acquiring two extremely overrated and overpaid guards in Jordan Clarkson and George Hill has put the team in salary cap hell. These three players are under contract for the next two seasons, and there will be no chance to dump their salaries unless they are willing to part with future assets, which is not an option for the franchise post-LeBron. The Hawks also own the Cavaliers first round pick this season if that pick falls outside the top 10 stemming from the Kyle Korver trade back in 2017. The Cavs, by default, have no reason for tanking this upcoming season, which made it clear that they needed to resign Love, so he did not walk away for nothing in 2019.
None of this means that Love is going to be a Cavalier for any part of that extension.
Love is an All-Star caliber player, and likely will return to his Minnesota Timberwolves form now that the shadows of Kyrie Irving and James have now passed. Love averaged 26.1 points per game and 12.5 rebounds per game in his last season with the Wolves, and he has the potential to reach those stats as he returns to a familiar role. The Cavs have enough talent to earn the seventh or eighth seed in a weak Eastern Conference. If they can live up to those expectations, that will allow the team to pay their debt to the Hawks via their 2019 first round pick and send them into an offseason where they are one year away from getting off the Smith, Thompson, Clarkson, and Hill contracts. That same offseason is where I believe the Cavs will start to reopen trade talks for the 5-time All-Star.
Love will be coming off a year where hopefully he rediscovers his ability to play on a team without LeBron, and there will be teams that miss out on the highly anticipated 2019 free agency class that will be desperate for an All-Star. Blake Griffin’s trade to the Detroit Pistons is a prime example of this. Stan Van Gundy knew he was getting canned after the season, and he chucked up a Hail Mary by taking on Griffin’s ridiculous 5-year $171 million contract. The Pistons are now land-locked with their roster, and Van Gundy is no longer with the team. Love’s new contract is much more reasonable in price, he fits the modern NBA, and he is a shorter commitment than Griffin, making it very possible the Cavs could bring in a decent haul of assets for Love’s services.
If the Cavs deal Love in the 2019 offseason, then the roster will be filled with a young talent, great draft capital, and expiring contracts. This will give the franchise endless flexibility in the 2020 offseason to do as they please.
In the meantime, K-Love is currently sitting at home after signing his second massive NBA contract, taking his total NBA earnings to an astounding $250 million over his career. At this point, he probably does not give a fuck what happens to him from now on. If he gets traded now, who cares. He gets to leave Cleveland, and still make $30 million each of the next four years!
Love gets a great deal, and Cleveland secures an asset that they will be able to use to either maintain success, or mortgage for the future. Sounds like a win-win to me.
Photo Credit: SI.com