Kevin Love will opt out of his contract with the Cleveland Cavaliers and become a free agent this summer, reports ESPN’s Marc Stein.
Now, let’s get this straight from the start: Love is far from a sure bet to leave Cleveland. In fact, it’s probably in his best financial interest to re-up with the Cavs for something like two years with another opt-out for next summer, when Love can cash in on the massive salary cap hike or have an extra year of security as he recovers from shoulder surgery. Cleveland would also own Love’s Bird Rights in that scenario, allowing them to offer more years and bigger raises on his next contract.
Love is in a bit of an awkward situation, however. It’s in every big-time player’s best interests to enter free agency in 2016, when many teams will be flush with cash, and max-contracts will be tied percentage wise to the highest salary cap ever. Love, however, may see his value diminish if he struggles for another year in Cleveland. His averages of 16.4 points and 9.7 rebounds last season were the first time he didn’t average a double-double since his rookie year.
If Love continues to fit awkwardly in Cleveland, who made the Finals without him, he could play himself out of a max-deal. The Cavs themselves may be okay going forward with Tristan Thompson and replacing Love with cheaper labor, an idea recently floated out by Grantland’s Zach Lowe. It’s then possible Love jumps to a team willing to pay him the max this summer—Houston, Dallas and Portland are some clubs that come to mind. The Rockets could be an especially interesting destination, and they would seem to be interested after their failed pursuit of a stretch-four in Chris Bosh last summer. Portland could be in the mix if they lose LaMarcus Aldridge in free agency.
Clearly, there are lots of moving parts here before players start jumping ship. The NBA’s silly season is just beginning, and there’s a long way to go before we call it on Love’s time in Cleveland, but it’s certainly a situation to watch.
Photo via Associated Press