With a player option for the 2015-2016 season, it’s going to be very interesting to follow what Kevin Love decides to do this offseason: Opt in for another year with the Cleveland Cavaliers or seek a bigger deal in free agency, with plenty of teams willing to offer him a maximum contract.
Love isn’t going to be playing anymore in these playoffs (his first ever postseason). Kelly Olynyk made sure of that, and maybe closed the door on the Cavaliers winning the championship in 2015.
Love, after years of being THE man in Minnesota, became a third option on offense for the Cavaliers. He has had his ups and downs with David Blatt and maybe perhaps with LeBron James as well, but his contribution in the postseason was vital, stretching the floor, his rebounding and his passing ability, despite the team’s attempt to narrow him down into the stretch ‘4’ role.
For every free agent, including Love, there are two aspects to consider when making a free agency decision. The contention probability and the financial one. Finances become more complicated this offseason because of what should happen with the salary cap, potentially rising to over $90 million. This might persuade a lot of players to take shorter deals, even for less money.
Love will make $16.7 million next season on his player option. If he opts out and signs a max contract with someone, he’ll be making almost $19 million on the first year of that deal. Opting out doesn’t necessarily mean leaving the Cleveland Cavaliers. He can re-sign with them as well. But maybe it’s worth giving up just over $2 million in order to be in an excellent position to maximize his profits when it’s time for a new contract in 2016.
Professionally, staying with the Cavaliers (who can lose LeBron James with a player option for next season) makes sense. Kyrie Irving is staying, and so is Timofey Mozgov and J.R. Smith. The core foundation of their successful run isn’t going anywhere.
The Lakers, Knicks and Celtics, among other teams, will be trying to sign Love for a max deal. The Lakers have been mentioned more than anyone because he played college ball for UCLA. But their prospects of doing something next season are small. Playing next to Carmelo Anthony and Kobe Bryant doesn’t sound too alluring either.
Love might want to feel like THE man again with a different team, something that won’t happen in Cleveland regardless of what deal he decides to take. Right now he’s probably depressed about his season ending prematurely, but pretty soon he’ll be starting doing the calculations of what’s the best thing for his NBA future.