It’s hard to believe it’s almost been seven years since the Cleveland Cavaliers traded for Kevin Love to create their big three of Love, LeBron James, and Kyrie Irving. Love, though, has been the only one still playing in Cleveland, as he signed an extension with the Cavs in 2018. However, while it was surprising enough that he outlasted both James and Irving, it appears he may even outlast yet another one of the Cavs’ stars: Collin Sexton.
Kevin Love has been involved in trade rumors for years
There hasn’t been a season in recent memory without Love trade rumors. Even back during the James-Irving-Love days, the former UCLA star was always the one involved in the speculation.
Despite his significant talent and what he gave those Cavs teams, Love was the third option of the Big Three. Many believed that if Cleveland wanted to prolong its championship window with Irving and James, Love would have to get traded at some point for a more valuable asset.
However, Irving was the first to leave. He wanted out of Cleveland and eventually got traded to the Boston Celtics. A year later, James left the Cavs for the Los Angeles Lakers, making Love the last remaining member of the Big Three.
Also in 2018, Love signed a four-year, $120 million contract extension with the Cavs, putting him on their books until 2023. That hasn’t quieted down the trade rumors, though, but, just like during the Big Three days, the Cavs seem to be having a hard time finding a trade partner for Love.
His injury history probably has something to do with that. According to Cleveland.com, Love has missed 116 games since signing his contract extension. He only played in 25 games during the 2020-21 season and averaged 12.2 points to go with a career-low 7.4 rebounds.
The Cavs may trade Collin Sexton first
Collin Sexton was the first building block of the post-Big Three era. The Cavs selected him with the eighth pick in the 2018 NBA draft, which was the pick they received from the Celtics in the Irving trade. His rookie season was also James’ first season on the Lakers.
He has since developed into a solid scorer. Sexton averaged a career-high 24.3 points in 2020-21 on a career-high 47.5% shooting.
However, despite Sexton being the Cavs’ leading scorer, it appears they don’t want to pay him. According to Sports Illustrated’s Jeremy Woo, Sexton is extension-eligible this offseason and could reportedly want a max contract.
The Cavs’ big man, Jarrett Allen, is also looking for a new deal, as he is a restricted free agent, and they are reportedly planning on giving him a $100 million-plus extension this offseason, per Terry Pluto of Cleveland.com. So, to stay flexible financially, Woo reported that the belief around the NBA is that the Cavs prefer to trade Sexton. The fact they now have the No. 3 pick in the 2021 draft could also play a role in a Sexton deal getting done.
So, why would the Cavs want to move on from their leading scorer? Well, in addition to not wanting to pay him, Sexton is not much of a facilitator. He averaged 4.4 assists this season and averages 3.4 for his career. Darius Garland, the Cavs’ fifth overall pick in 2019, not only went from averaging 12.3 points in his rookie year to 17.4 this season, but his assists jumped from 3.9 to 6.1.
Given Garland’s abilities, he may be the better choice to pair with Allen, and the Cavs could potentially replace Sexton’s scoring with their third pick in this year’s draft, as well as the player they’d receive in a swap for Sexton.
But what about Love?
Kevin Love may outlast yet another Cavs star
The trade rumors surrounding Kevin Love are actually pretty quiet right now. It’s hard to trade someone who is set to make $60 million the next two seasons, as that 2018 contract extension continues to prove to be a huge mistake.
In May, Cavs general manager Koby Altman said, “When we talk to the younger group about leadership, Kevin does that on and off the court. We want him to be here. We signed him to an extension for that reason, to be here when we want to make that next step. We’re going to hopefully rely on him heavily next year after a significant summer. … He needs to get his body right,” per Cleveland.com.
Chris Fedor of Cleveland.com also reported earlier this month that sources had said there hadn’t been any buyout talks between Love and the team.
So, as of now, it looks like Love will be in Cleveland a little while longer, which is something we have been saying since 2015. Just like LeBron James and Kyrie Irving before him, Collin Sexton could be yet another star to leave Cleveland before Love does.
At this point, he might as well wait for LeBron’s second return.