“The Miami Heat have emerged as leaders to sign five-time All-Star Kevin Love after he completes buyout with Cleveland, league sources tell @TheAthletic @Stadium. Interested teams believe Miami’s ability to offer a defined role and playoff positioning are leading factors,” Charania tweeted Saturday morning.
It’s no surprise Love is looking for a more defined role wherever he goes next. Despite being available and healthy, Love hasn’t played yet for Cleveland in the month of February. Coincidentally, the Cavaliers were undefeated in February before a tough loss to the Sixers Wednesday night.
Nonetheless, Love believes he can still contribute to a team. According to Jason Lloyd of The Athletic, Love is champing at the bit to get back out on the floor wherever he ends up next.
“Love wants to play and didn’t like falling out of the rotation completely. His next destination, whether Miami or elsewhere, will likely be a place where he believes he can get on the court again.”
Cavs Working to Prevent Heat Destination?
So a move to Miami is all but guaranteed, right? It makes sense as a destination, given what Charania noted and the Heat’s lack of depth in the frontcourt.
But as ESPN’s Brian Windhorst explained, it’s not quite that easy.
“Certainly Miami would be a good fit because they need size and shooting,” Windhorst said on the Dan Patrick Show on February 17. “I don’t know if the Cavs are going to allow that as part of the buyout. That’s part of what I think is under discussion.”
Not only is Miami a conference rival, but the Heat also projects to be a potential playoff opponent for the Cavaliers. Though just seventh in the East, a strong run from the Heat or a dropoff in play from Cleveland could see the two sides meeting as early as the first round of the postseason.
It’s unclear whether Love would still be included in a playoff rotation when/if a matchup with the Cavs were to occur. The later the playoffs go, the tighter rotations get, with regular-season contributors sometimes squeezed out to prevent lineup liabilities against better opponents. Love is hardly the defender he once was, and it’s not difficult to imagine a Cavs pick and roll shredding him down the line.
Suns Expressing Interest in Love Signing
The Heat aren’t the only would-be contenders interested in landing Love’s signature.
The Phoenix Suns, who just pulled off a blockbuster swap for Kevin Durant — also have Love on their radar, per Windhorst.
“A team in the Western Conference I’d keep an eye out for is the Phoenix Suns. The Suns have been doing some background research into Kevin over the last 24 hours,” Windhorst said. “And don’t forget — James Jones, the team president, was teammates with Kevin Love when they won the championship in 2016 with the Cavs. The new-look Suns have a roster spot, have a bunch of money they can still pay to free agents, so keep an eye on the Suns as a contender for Kevin Love.”
The Suns project to be one of the league’s favorites to win the Finals this season after trading for Durant. With a roster consisting of Durant, Chris Paul, Devin Booker, and Deandre Ayton, Phoenix boasts no shortage of All-Star talent, even without adding the five-timer Love.