Big things happen heading into the NBA Draft. One of them is Kevin Love opting out of his one remaining year with the Cleveland Cavaliers. He still is most likely going to re-sign with them, but the Los Angeles Lakers, Boston Celtics and even the Phoenix Suns are going to try and get his attention.
Love was due to make $16.7 million, the final season of the extension he signed in 2012. However, not that he’s a 7-year veteran, he has the opportunity to sign a much bigger deal, and he’s going to be looking for the max, which means over $100 million over five seasons from the Cavaliers, or just under $90 million over four years if he signs for anyone else.
The Cavaliers want Love to stay, but for this price? With Love and J.R. Smith opting out, the Cavaliers are now at $65 million, just under the cap. LeBron James might also opt out of his deal and bring it down to $44 million, but obviously they’re going to need to re-sign him as well. There’s Tristan Thompson who needs a new deal. In short, the Cavaliers can easily go over $93-95 million, which means a lot of luxury tax in order to pretty much keep the same team from last season.
There’s also the matter of Love and his ego. He and LeBron James aren’t the best of friends, but they get along on the court, and that’s what matters, isn’t it? Maybe Love, relegated into a third scoring option during the season, something that took him time to adjust to and once he finally got completely comfortable in it he got injured, wants to be the number one guy?
While staying with the Cavaliers means his best shot at competing for a title, there are other options out there. The Boston Celtics have been big fans of his for quite some time. The Celtics don’t have major re-signings to do, and have the cap space to sign Love and make him their number one player. How interested is he? There’s a good coach a lot of guys like to play for and it’s a team on the rise, but even with Love, it’s not going very far in the playoffs next year.
On to the Lakers, who are in contention for every big name free agent among other things. Again, the appeal is clear. It’s Los Angeles, and it’s the Lakers. But it means playing next to Kobe Bryant, probably in his last season, and it’s never easy playing alongside someone who doesn’t want to share the spotlight (like LeBron James) but also isn’t that good. But if Love is patient, he’ll have himself his own team in one year.
And what about the Suns? They’ve been trying to make themselves a lucrative free agency destination for a number of years. They have the cap space and a pretty nice, young crew running which is worth 9th, 10th in the West. Add a quality player like Love (who isn’t as well respected around the league as he was a year ago or maybe two) and you have a very good team in the making. But the Suns always seem like a step or two behind the “big boys” of the NBA, which means Love might not even give them a shot at pitching him an offer.