FRIDAY, 11:16am: Love threw cold water on Smith’s report in response to a question from Chris Haynes of the Northeast Ohio Media Group (Twitter link). In his apparent denial, the power forward referenced a recent controversy over a hand gesture that he and Kyrie Irving made in a game recently that some thought was a reference to marijuana use. “Whatever we were doing with our hands is about as true as me going to the Lakers next year,” Love said to Haynes.
MONDAY, 12:14pm: Kevin Love made it clear that he wanted to play with LeBron James and the Cavs this past offseason before the trade that sent him to Cleveland, but “indications are” that he’ll consider opting out and that he still has interest in playing for the Lakers, according to Sam Smith of Bulls.com. Love possesses a $16.744MM player option for next season, but he’d stand to make significantly more on a new maximum-salary deal if he were to opt out.
Reports last season previously connected Love to the Lakers, who seemed the front-runners to land him one way or another as of the February trade deadline, though Love downplayed such talk. Still, Love played collegiately at UCLA, as Smith points out, and the Lakers, like many teams, have had interest in the sharpshooting power forward for quite some time.
The Cavs will have Love’s Bird rights come next summer, and while the Lakers couldn’t give him a fifth year or 7.5% raises the way Cleveland could, the purple-and-gold are still poised to have enough cap room to give Love a four-year max deal with 4.5% raises. The fifth year wouldn’t necessarily be attractive to the Jeff Schwartz client, since a short-term contract would allow him to re-enter free agency after the salary cap and maximum salaries jump because of the league’s new $24 billion TV deal, set to kick in for 2016/17.
Love indicated his intention to remain with Cleveland long-term shortly after the August trade that brought him from the Wolves. He said that a desire to win motivated him to push for the swap, and the Lakers, who won their first game of the season Sunday night, appear a ways from contention. He emphasized to reporters during the preseason that playing for a winner means more to him than performing in a large market.