Kevin Love’s move to the Miami Heat became official on Monday when the team dropped an announcement confirming his signing. He won’t be the only new big man in South Beach, though, as the club also confirmed the acquisition of fellow vet Cody Zeller.
Love is the headliner, however, and arguably team president Pat Riley’s biggest signing since Caleb Martin was first brought on board back in September of 2021. For his part, Heat star Bam Adebayo is already dreaming up ways in which he and Love can pair up and make opposing clubs pay inside and out.
“It’s exciting. We’ve got fresh legs on the team,” Adebayo told the AP’s Tim Reynolds, via NBA.com. “We’ve got a guy like Kevin Love, who has been through those wars, came back from 3-1 (during the 2016 NBA Finals between the Cleveland Cavaliers and Golden State Warriors). You’ve got a battle-tested guy like that who has won. It’s big for us.”
While the on-court possibilities are worth getting excited over, Love’s impact on the Heat’s payroll/ability to sign other players isn’t insignificant.
Heat Insider Drops Details on Kevin Love’s New Deal in Miami
As reported by the South Florida Sun Sentinel’s Ira Winderman in the wake of Love’s big move, the Heat used the remaining $3.1 million of their bi-annual exception to add the five-time All-Star to their roster through the end of the year.
It was a transaction made possible by Miami’s jettisoning of Dewayne Dedmon ahead of the trade deadline. Just because the Heat were able to find the money earlier in the month, though, doesn’t mean that Love’s signing was made painlessly.
By putting their bi-annual exception to use, Riley and Co. triggered the hard cap. In other words, they cannot exceed the luxury tax apron of $156,983,000 for the remainder of the league year (ending on July 1).
This isn’t a huge concern for the team this season as the trade deadline has come and gone and the roster is currently full. By using the exception on Love now, though, the Heat won’t have access to it during this summer’s free-agent frenzy or at any point next season.
Having said that, if there’s a belief that Love can help get the team back in line for a Finals return this season, that’s probably something you have to live with as a franchise. And while Love has had a down year in 2022-23, he’s not long removed from averaging 13.6 points and 7.2 rebounds per game and shooting 39.2% from deep in 2021-22.
Love Buyout Was About Respect
Given the teams’ proximity in the Eastern Conference standings and similar postseason goals, one has to wonder whether the Cavs will rue the day they essentially paid Love to go play with Adebayo, Jimmy Butler, Tyler Herro and a Heat team that could give them fits in the playoffs. He was also a nice insurance policy to have on the bench.
According to the Akron Beacon Journal‘s Ryan Lewis, however, the Cavs wanted to reward Love for his contributions to the organization.
“In reality, allowing Love to walk free isn’t a move being made because it’s the right basketball-centric roster decision. It’s partially a nod to all Love has done for the franchise over nine years,” Lewis wrote. “…For nine years, he was a fabric of the Cleveland sports universe. One day, his jersey will be raised into the rafters.”