For several years Kevin Love’s massive contract has been a financial anchor on the Cleveland Cavaliers’ salary cap. However, with the five-time All-Star in the final year of his deal, he reportedly is a chip that could be included in a trade by the team this summer.
When Cleveland gave Love his four-year, $120 million dollar contract before the 2019-2020 season, most around the league knew it was not a beneficial deal for the team. However, with native son Lebron James having left them for a second time two years before, the organization clearly felt they had to hold on to one of the few good pieces left from their 2015-2016 championship team.
Over the first three seasons of the deal, Love has clearly continued his age-induced decline. While he is a strong NBA starter, he is far from a player deserving of around $30 million per season. The contract has made the former Timberwolves star untradable. That is until now.
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On Thursday, Cleveland.com’s NBA reporter Chris Fedor told the Hoopshype podcast that if the organization wanted to make moves to improve the team, after their first winning season in four years, they may finally be able to package Love in a deal for an upgrade talent.
“Him being in the final year of his contract and making around $30 million means it opens up trade possibilities for the Cavs,” Fedor said. “If they want to get involved in Zach LaVine, Donovan Mitchell, Tobias Harris, or some other higher-priced guys like Harrison Barnes, and they feel like they’d be a better fit, Kevin is their way of doing it. His contract matches some of these upper-echelon players that could be available in a trade this offseason.”
Assuming the Cleveland Cavaliers do target a star this summer, here are three possible trade scenarios that could include Kevin Love.
Cleveland Cavaliers get Tobias Harris, 76ers get cap flexibility
- Trade: Tobias Harris and Dylan Windler to the Cavaliers, Love to 76ers
While the suggestion has been that the Philadelphia 76ers will look for another All-Star to combine with superstars Joel Embiid and James Harden, that could be difficult if they prefer to hold on to rising talent Tyrese Maxey. If their pursuits are fruitless, Kevin Love could be an interesting option that brings rebounds, three-point shooting, and cap flexibility.
For the Cavaliers, landing a player like Philly’s Tobias Harris is certainly an upgrade over Love. While he is on the books for several more years at a big cost, he is younger, with fresher legs, and would be a worthwhile veteran star to pair up with Darius Garland. For the 76ers, if Love doesn’t prove beneficial, he is a free agent the following year and they are free of Harris’ $39 million contract in 2023-2024. Giving them some funds they can use elswhere.
Cavs get Gordon Hayward and 2023 1st round pick for Love
- Trade: Gordon Hayward and 2023 first-round pick to Cavaliers, Kevin Love to Hornets
Similar to the Harris going to Cleveland, the Charlotte Hornets could see long-term benefits to adding Love if they can move Gordon Hayward and the $61 million he is owed the next two seasons. There is no doubt that Hayward’s injury history is a major concern and the deal could be a net loss for the Cavs.
However, if healthy he improves the small forward position immensely. And they could certainly use more reliable scoring after being a bottom-five scoring team this season. If a first-round pick in the 2023 draft is included in the deal, it would be a worthwhile risk for the Cleveland Cavaliers to improve the team now and in the future.
Cleveland swaps Love for Mike Conley, Jr.
- Trade: Mike Conley, Jr. and Royce O’Neale to Cavaliers, Love to Jazz
In Fedor’s talk with Hoopshype, he also mentioned the fact that Mike Conley, Jr. has long been a favorite of Cavs coach JB Bickerstaff. While the organization doesn’t need a point guard, Conley would be hugely beneficial as a veteran leader to help this young team continue to learn how to win on a consistent basis. No disrespect to Love, but he has not been a winner for most of his career unless Lebron James was around.
Conley, Jr. would be excellent as a pseudo-player-coach and someone to help Garland mature into their franchise guard for the next decade. For Utah, Love would certainly be an upgrade over O’Neale at power forward and eventually frees up cap space for the team after next season.