It’s been an interesting year for the Cleveland Cavaliers. No, not the kind of interesting that keeps you glued to the TV every time the wine and gold play. Interesting in a way that makes you wonder what in the world is going on in Northeast Ohio, and with Kevin Love.
No Love in Cleveland
The Cavs have lost 13 of their last 14 games and sit at 5-18 on the year. That’s just one game better than… the Knicks. This team was 4-5 at one point and while that’s not great, it was enough to get talks of a potential eighth seed started. Those talks have quickly turned into mock draft conversations.
With rookie Darius Garland looking nothing like a top five pick and everybody not named Tristan Thompson or Kevin Love scuffling, it is time for this team to make some moves. General manager Kobe Atlman has made a few moves since joining the club in the summer of 2017. Some have been good, such as the trading of George Hill and Kyle Korver last season. Others, such as the Isaiah Thomas deal, have not been great.
What to do?
Altman now has a decision to make with the future of Kevin Love. With the star forward reportedly wanting traded to a title contender, Altman should do his best to oblige. Love is 31 and saw four straight trips to the NBA Finals, so it’s understandable he wants to return to the big stage. A weakened 2020 free agency pool should also give Altman and the Cavs a little leverage in this situation.
Late last week, reports surfaced that the Cavs were open to trade offers for Love.
This makes sense, yet, doesn’t make sense at the same time. Love is under contract through the 2022-2023 season. If the Cavs are competitive by then, he would certainly be a key part of their success. That’s a big if, however, as these Cavs seem earlier in their rebuild approach than many thought.
Future Portland Trail Blazer?
Love is set to make over $31 million each of the next two seasons, and just under $29 million in his final year on his contract. That won’t necessarily be easy to move, but some teams have already expressed interest. Love himself has also noted a desirable landing spot, the Portland Trail Blazers.
That’s a little head scratching considering the initial report was that Love wanted to be shipped to a title contender. Yes, Portland was in the Western Conference Finals just one year ago. However, they are just 9-15 so far this season and seem far from what they were in 2018-2019. They also are in the bottom third of the league defensively via teamrankings.com, and defense is not exactly Love’s strong suit.
Will it Work?
The problem for Portland is finding a way to make this work financially. It would certainly require the dealing of Kent Bazemore, whose contract is set at about $19 million this season. After him, a flurry of role players like Zach Collins and Skal Labissiere would need to be involved. A first round draft pick from Portland to Cleveland would also be required.
There are also unofficial rumors of additional teams expressing interest in the power forward.
The Nuggets and Celtics have hefty money tied up with some of their guards, but that’s not what Cleveland needs. With so much invested in Garland and Collin Sexton, the Cavs probably won’t be looking for more backcourt depth. They have two expiring contracts of their own in Jordan Clarkson and Brandon Knight that they will look to move before the trade deadline.
It’s clear that Love’s extension has not worked out well for the Cavs. With reports of players not buying into John Beilein’s system, it may be time to clean house a bit. Not saying that Love was one of those players that talked, however, he seems to be a likely candidate.
Finding a trade partner will not be easy for Altman. He won’t be looking to take on any long-term contracts, rather, he’ll be looking for those expiring. With the size of Love’s contract, it will be difficult to make the finances work out.
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