Kevin Love is on the verge of a buyout agreement with the Cleveland Cavaliers and he’ll have suitors once he hits the open market.
Love injured his thumb earlier this season but has fallen out of the rotation in recent weeks. The veteran big man is averaging 8.5 points and 6.8 rebounds while shooting 35.4 percent from beyond the arc this season. Love is making $28.9 million this season.
The buyout negotiations nearing a conclusion were first reported by Shams Charania and Jason Lloyd of The Atheltic. They also mentioned a potential suitor for Love in the Miami Heat, who are five games back of the Cavs in the Eastern Conference standings.
“The Cleveland Cavaliers and Kevin Love are finalizing a contract buyout, with the Miami Heat expected to emerge as a suitor for the five-time All-Star should the sides finalize parting ways,” Charania and Lloyd wrote.
While the Cavaliers value Love as a veteran leader in the locker room, he’ll now get a chance to earn minutes elsewhere and Cleveland will have an open roster spot. Miami has an open roster spot waiting and would value Love off the bench behind Bam Adebayo, per The Athletic.
Via Charania and Lloyd: “The Heat have an open roster spot and have canvassed the market recently for a big man, sources said. Miami could offer Love a reserve role with ample minutes behind All-Star Bam Adebayo.”
Love will likely have other suitors. A reunion with LeBron James with the Los Angeles Lakers would be interesting and the Golden State Warriors could also utilize his unique skill set.
Cavaliers Knew Lack of Minutes Wasn’t Easy for Love
The buyout is a bit of a shocker, considering that Cavs GM Koby Altman said on February 9 that he didn’t expect it to go that way.
“I have not been approached by them at all and I don’t anticipate it either,” Altman told reporters. “Not one time since I’ve been here have they approached me about that. I think we’re asking Kevin to make another sacrifice this year to do what he’s doing right now, which is be a great teammate, stay positive every day, stay ready and work on your body, work on your shot, work on everything to be ready for when that opportunity comes next.”
He’s averaging career lows in minutes (20.0) points (8.5) and rebounds (6.8) but the younger Cavs are thriving as the 38-23, good for fourth in the East.
“It’s not easy for Kevin,” Altman said. “I’ve had a conversation with him, and he wants to play. I think he’ll have an opportunity to play again this year, but where we’re at now, I think J.B.’s really comfortable with the rotation that we have.”
Love Highly Respected in Cleveland
As news of the buyout spread, Cavaliers fans and media members gave Love his flowers. He is the lone piece remaining from the Cavs’ 2016 championship team and has stuck around through some tough years in Cleveland.
“2016 was truly unforgettable and Kevin Love will always be a legend in Cleveland. Wish him nothing but the best, whatever comes next,” Camryn Justice of News 5 Cleveland tweeted. “No. 0 will no doubt have a place in the rafters one day.”
Remember his contributions during that title season was a common sentiment.
“Woah. The end of an era for a Cavalier great and a world champion in 2016,” John Fanta of Fox Sports tweeted. “Kevin Love is always going to hold a special spot in Cleveland sports. He gave nine years to the wine and gold, and delivered 9 points and 14 rebounds in that epic Game 7 to win the NBA title in ‘16.”