Since LeBron James’ departure from the Cleveland Cavaliers, Kevin Love’s future remains a central question. Through it all, Love sits still a member of the Cavaliers despite the obvious signs that a change of scenery is necessary. The former All-Star big man is now presenting a $60 million headache.
Cavaliers acquire Lauri Markkanen
Love‘s status in Cleveland became more uncertain after the franchise recently acquired big man Lauri Markkanen.
The Cavaliers pulled the trigger on a three-team sign-and-trade deal that involves sending Larry Nance Jr. to the Portland Trail Blazers and a 2023 second-round selection to the Chicago Bulls. Meanwhile, the Trail Blazers moved Derrick Jones and a lottery-protected 2022 first-round pick to the Bulls.
Markkanen inked a four-year, $67 million deal to join the Cavaliers, which seemingly demonstrates the team is moving on from Kevin Love. However, the former star big man is now presenting a $60 million headache for the franchise.
Kevin Love isn’t letting the Cavaliers escape their $60 million headache
The Cavaliers’ decision to acquire Markkanen effectively pushes Love into a tough spot.
Over the last several years, he’s dealt with constant trade rumors. However, it’s now shifted toward contract buyout discussion as Cleveland presents all the signs the team has moved on from him.
However, Love isn’t interested in moving his way toward buying out the remaining two years of his contract, valued at roughly $60 million. His agent recently spoke to Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN, voicing that the 32-year-old’s strong sentiment.
“There have been no talks with Cleveland on a buyout, nor is there any interest from Kevin in doing a buyout,” Schwartz told ESPN.
A contract buyout would present the Cavaliers the opportunity to save money while giving him the chance to sign elsewhere. At the moment, Love holds no desire to head in that direction as it would require him to agree to lose out on a significant chunk of money in his remaining deal.
He likely believes he won’t make up that money over that span of his remaining contract. Meanwhile, Love’s value has dropped as he’s struggled to recapture All-Star form while experiencing difficulty staying healthy. All those factors have forced him into the corner of keeping a headstrong approach.
Kevin Love is holding himself back from a promising situation
Love may not want to venture into contract buyout talks, but it’s hard to ignore the number of promising scenarios that could line up if he chose to head that route.
The Cavaliers are far from a team ready to compete for an NBA title, which may eventually be enough to push him to a buyout. If he heads into free agency, the Los Angeles Lakers are a possibility.
Love holds the connection to LeBron James, while his former collegiate teammate Russell Westbrook is now in the fold. Meanwhile, he could pursue a homecoming to the Portland Trail Blazers, as he has previously spoken highly about playing with the franchise.
“Who wouldn’t want to play with Dame Lillard, first of all,” Love said on “Posted Up” podcast with Yahoo Sports‘ Chris Haynes in May. “Dame, he’s special. He’s amazing. I claim Portland when they ask me where I’m from. It’s where I spent all of my formative years. I grew up in Portland. When people ask where I was born, obviously I say L.A.
“But Portland is always going to be a special place in my heart. Whether it be at the end of my career, whether it be in six months, or whatever it may be, if I was wearing a Portland jersey, that’s special. That’s playing at home.”
Ultimately, it’s on Love’s shoulders to bite the financial bullet if he wants a better opportunity to compete for another NBA title.
Contract figures courtesy of Spotrac.