Kevin Love, the last remaining member of Cleveland’s “Big Three,” will stay in The Land longer than originally expected. Love has signed a four-year contract extension with the Cavs worth $120 million. The extension locks Love up for a total of five years, as he still has one year remaining on his 2015 max extension. All told, Love will make $145 million over the next five years.
Cavs GM Koby Altman and Love announced the deal at Quicken Loans Arena in front of the construction crew working on the arena’s renovations. Love even took a selfie with the workers and signed some hardhats.
“We are very excited to announce Kevin’s long-term commitment to the Cavaliers and Cleveland. This quickly became a partnership the second we began these discussions. Collaboration and winning matter greatly to Kevin and that was reflected in this extension,” Altman said.
Love, for his part, talked about how much he has grown to love Cleveland and playing for the Cavs:
When I first came to Cleveland, I came with a long-term mindset. I came here to win. We developed a culture here that reflects that. I’m super excited and I couldn’t be happier. It’s a big commitment for me and it’s a big commitment from the Cavaliers, so I want to thank Dan Gilbert, Koby Altman and the entire organization. I enjoy playing here, I’m excited about the team that we have and look forward to our future together. Cleveland fans have been special from day one and I’m also looking forward to continuing to be a part of this great community.
What Does the Move Mean for the Cavs?
The move comes as somewhat of a surprise. After LeBron James bolted for the Lakers in free agency, many expected the Cavs to blow up their roster and go into full rebuild mode. After all, the Hawks will get the Cavs first round draft pick in 2019 if it falls outside of the top-10. That alone seemed like a good reason to tank and look towards the future — which, in theory, would mean trading Love.
Make no mistake, Love alone doesn’t guarantee the Cavs will make the playoffs. It’s still possible the Cavs could keep their draft pick next year.
However, Love being on the Cavs for the 2018-19 season does substantially reduce the chance of their pick falling in the top-10. The Eastern Conference is top heavy with the likes of Toronto, Boston, and Philly leading the pack. The Cavs will be one of a handful of teams battling for the last few playoff spots next year.
Love will serve in a veteran leadership role for up-and-coming young players such as Collin Sexton and Cedi Osman. He will also return to being the first option, a role he excelled in during his time playing for the Timberwolves. It will be interesting to see how Love adjusts to being the primary offensive weapon after spending four years as a secondary role behind the likes of LeBron James and Kyrie Irving.
This move signals that Gilbert and Altman are determined to remain competitive in the second post-LeBron James era. Will they compete for championships right away? No, of course not, but their future is a little brighter today than it was yesterday.
The Cavs, as currently constructed, will have around $25 million in cap space to use in 2019 and a whopping $70 million in 2020. These figures could and will change, but the point is, the Cavs retained financial flexibility even while keeping Love — a luxury they didn’t have during LeBron’s most recent stint in town.
What Does This Mean for Kevin Love?
Love’s contract extension is reminiscent of what happened with Chris Bosh after LeBron left the Heat. Bosh signed a max deal in 2014 when James went back to Cleveland. Now Love has done the same.
For Love, it probably represents his last major payday in the league. It gives him financial security as he ages and his career winds down.
Love already having an NBA title under his belt probably made his decision a bit easier, but it also sounds like his decision was about comfort. He enjoys playing for the Cavs and has embraced the community.
Cavs fans, myself included, have often asked the organization to trade the All-Star power forward over the past four years. He was the subject of numerous potential trades to improve around LeBron. Yet, through it all, Love is remaining loyal to The Land. That’s no small thing.