Just a few short seasons ago the Cleveland Cavaliers were one of the best teams in the NBA, then Lebron James left. Since then the Cavs have been one of the worst teams in the NBA. The Cavs roster has been blown up since their 2016 NBA title. Only Matthew Dellavedova and Kevin Love remain, and Love may be on his way out.
Kevin Love was a huge score for the Cavaliers right after they landed another huge score in singing Lebron James. The Cavaliers gave up basically two number one overall picks for Love, in Anthony Bennet and Andrew Wiggins. Love with James and Kyrie Irving helped the Cavs make four straight NBA finals and win the franchise’s only championship.
But now things are different. The Cavaliers have rebuilt. They are now a young team loaded with potential stars like Darius Garland and Colin Sexton. The veteran Love does not seem to fit.
The Cavaliers have looked to trade Love, but his massive contracts prevent this. Love is still owed over 90 million dollars the next three seasons and is scheduled to make 31 million this season.
Love also wants to play for a title contender, and most contenders do not have the assets to trade for Love and to be able to stay competitive at the same time.
One team that does have the assets that could potentially swing a trade for Love is the Brooklyn Nets. Yes, the Nets, the same team which just acquired James Harden’s colossal contract. The Nets could send Joe Harris (16 million), Spencer Dinwiddie (11 million), and DeAndre Jordan (10 million), totaling 37.7 million dollars, for Kevin Love (31 million) Javale McGee (4 million), and Dylan Windler (2 million), totaling 37.6 million. Obviously, the Nets would need to find draft picks as well, which would be a problem.
This trade though would leave the Nets with no depth. They’d have one of the best starting fives in NBA history with Irving, Harden, Durant, Love, and McGee; but after that 5 they’d have to rely heavily on guys like Jeff Green, Landry Shamet, Bruce Brown, and a host of G-league call-ups. Not ideal for any team during a long season where covid and injuries can strike at any time.
Speaking of injuries, that is of concern for any team wanting to get love. Since 2016 Love has missed significant time every season. In 2017 he missed 22 games, in 2018 he missed 23 games, in 2019 he missed 60 games, in 2020 he missed only 9 games, but in 2021 he has played in just 2 games. In his 13 year career, he has appeared in 75 or more games just 4 times.
it is unlikely that the Cavs can find a trade partner for Love, so the next logical step will be to buy him out. Once bought out Love would be free to sign with any team in the league. He will likely choose a title contender. But which team?
There are really only a handful of teams that Love will consider. The best fits are going to be good offensive teams that can hide his defensive liabilities and teams that could legitimately make the conference finals.
#5 Miami Heat
The reigning eastern conference champions Heat are struggling thus far this season, but they have had massive injuries and are just getting healthy. The Heat have two all-stars in Jimmy Butler and Bam Adebayo and very solid role players in Goran Dragic and Tyler Herro.
The Heat could offer Love a roster spot by cutting one of many players with only a season remaining and could give him ample playing time.
#4 Los Angeles Clippers
The Clippers would be higher on the list if they had room for Love and he was not redundant. The Clippers have Nic Batum, Serge Ibaka, Ivica Zubac, Patrick Patterson, and Marcus Morris who all do the same things pretty much that love does, and they are under contract longer.
Still, the Clippers goal is to win a title and talent helps. Love would not see the minutes he would with other teams but they would be a nice fit for him.
#3 Brooklyn Nets
As discussed before, the Nets have a star-stacked team capable of winning a title. They also have a need for additional bigs and one that can spread the floor. All things Love can do.
The one thing that could hurt the Nets is simply money. Do they have the money to sign Love? The Nets currently have almost 164 million dollars in committed payroll. They also have gaping holes else were in terms of depth.
#2 Los Angeles Lakers
The defending champion Lakers remade their roster again last year and sure up several holes. They do still have one hole. A big man that cans stretch. Again, this is where love would fit great.
Love is also from the LA area having gone to school at UCLA. He also plays very well with Lebron James and could be a great companion piece to Anthony Davis.
The Lakers, like the Clippers, however, do have pieces that fit the same role as Love. Montrezl Harrell, Kyle Kuzma, Markeiff Morris, Marc Gasol, and even Anthony Davis, all can do the same things Love can do.
#1 Utah Jazz
Seeing the Jazz here might surprise many, but the Jazz have a couple of things these other teams do not. The Jazz have only 14 players on their roster, meaning they have an open roster spot. They also have their bi-annual exception, which could allow them to pay Love more than these other teams.
The Jazz, who currently have the best record in the NBA, also have a very good team that is deep. The Jazz have two all-stars in Donovan Mitchell and Rudy Gobert and two semi-all-stars in Mike Conley and Bojan Bogdanovic.
Love also would not be competing for his role with the Jazz in the same way he would with other teams. Bogdanovic is more of a 3 and ball-handler and Favors plays down low most of the time. He would likely take minutes away from Georges Niang.
The biggest factor in where Love goes is still the Cleveland Cavaliers. The Cavs may make the playoffs in the eastern conference and having a former all-star like Love who could help them would be a nice asset to have.
Additionally, a buyout would likely cost Love millions. Is he going to turn down 90 million dollars for a title shot, when he already has a title. It is also unlikely he would ever make that amount of money through the remainder of his career.