The Cavs’ Uphill Battle to Trade Kevin Love Just Took an Even Bigger Hit

When LeBron James left the Cleveland Cavaliers for the second time during the summer of 2018, Kevin Love shockingly signed a four-year, $120.4 million extension with the Cavs. It was a move no one in the NBA saw coming since Cleveland was about to embark on a rebuild, and Love was an aging player better suited to play for a contender.

As expected, the Cavs have been terrible ever since James left for the LA Lakers. Cleveland won 19 games during the 2018-19 season and 19 in 2019-20 before the campaign was suspended in March due to COVID-19. Love appeared in 77 games for the Cavs in the past two seasons. He averaged 17.4 points and 10.1 rebounds while shooting 43.2% from the field and 37.1% from beyond the arc.

The Cavs have been trying to trade Love for a while since it doesn’t make sense for the veteran to play on a young squad at this stage of his career. Since his contract is so lucrative, though, Cleveland hasn’t had much luck in finding a trade partner for Love, and the team’s uphill battle to trade the five-time All-Star just took an even bigger hit.

The Cavs have a talented young core in the second post-LeBron James era

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In the second post-LeBron James era, Collin Sexton, Darius Garland, Cedi Osman, Kevin Porter Jr., and Isaac Okoro headline the Cavs’ roster. Kevin Love and Andre Drummond are the two All-Stars on the team, but most executives around the NBA believe both guys will be gone from Cleveland sooner rather than later.

Sexton is off to an explosive start in 2020-21. Through the Cavs’ first three games, the 21-year-old is averaging 27.0 points while shooting 59.3% from the field. Cleveland has been looking for a franchise point guard ever since Kyrie Irving requested a trade in 2017. It looks like Sexton will be that guy for the Cavs.

Even though Cleveland is off to an impressive 3-0 start in 2020-21, it would be a major surprise if the franchise makes the playoffs. They are still really young and could trade Love and Drummond at the 2021 trade deadline.

A Drummond trade could happen soon since he becomes an unrestricted free agent in the offseason of 2021 and is probably looking to get paid. The Cavs can’t risk losing Drummond without getting anything in return, so it wouldn’t be surprising to see the former Detroit Pistons star get moved.

However, a trade involving Love may not happen after the latest bad news involving the future Hall of Famer.

Kevin Love will be out three to four weeks with a right calf strain

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Kevin Love will miss the next three to four weeks with a strained right calf. His trade value continues to decrease for the Cavs.

In two games this season against the Pistons and Philadelphia 76ers, Love is averaging 9.5 points and 6.0 rebounds. The one-time champion makes $31.3 million this season and next campaign. Love is set to earn $28.9 million in 2022-23, the final year of his contract.

Rival teams aren’t going to give the Cavs a grand haul for Love, who has been injury-prone his entire career. At this point, Cleveland may have to hold onto Love or move him for scraps to get off his monster contract.

Kevin Love should get his number retired with the Cavs one day

Kevin Love has career averages of 17.2 points and 10.0 rebounds with the Cavs. He’s 11th in franchise history in win shares and third in rebounds per game.

Since he was on the 2015-16 team that won the championship over the Golden State Warriors, Love should get his No. 0 retired by the Cavs one day. His play on the court speaks for itself, and Cleveland wouldn’t have defeated the Warriors without Love’s contributions.

The California native’s biggest impact on the Cavs organization, though, may have come during the 2017-18 season when he opened up about his mental health issues. After Love openly talked about his battles with depression, hundreds of people worldwide thanked the Cavs star for sharing his story and helping them come to grips with their own problems.

So while the Cavs face a big dilemma with Love and his future with the franchise following his latest injury, he should still be celebrated by the team and fans down the line.

Stats courtesy of Basketball Reference.