Kevin Love plans to opt in and remain with the Cavaliers for 2015/16, as he tells Chris Haynes of the Northeast Ohio Media Group. Love has a player option worth more than $16.744MM for next season, and though he’d stand to earn more than that if he were to sign a new contract, whether with the Cavs or any other team, it appears he’ll remain under his existing deal.
“I think that we will figure it out here, so I don’t plan on opting out or any of that,” Love said. “I plan on being here. As far as leaving my options open, I mean sure, it’s always there. At the end of the day, it’s always good to have something but no, I plan on being here.”
Many executives thought Love would test the market this summer, Haynes writes, but Love restated his long-term commitment to Cleveland. Opting in would allow Love to hit free agency in the summer of 2016, when execs assume the salary cap will surge to around $90MM. Still, Love can accomplish the same if he opts out and signs a one-year deal or a two-year deal with a player option. Jason Lloyd of the Akron Beacon Journal wrote this past weekend that Love was unlikely to sign a long-term deal with the Cavs this summer so that he could maximize his earnings, but not necessarily because he wanted out.
Cavs coach David Blatt made an odd statement late Sunday suggesting that Love isn’t a maximum-salary player, though Blatt backtracked and Love said he’s not upset about it. Love’s numbers are down significantly this season as he and the Cavs have struggled to mesh. Still, the 26-year-old remains a marquee talent.
A pair of reports suggested that Love had interest in joining the Lakers for next season, but Love denied that and has continually insisted that he has no desire to leave the Cavs, even amid his admiration for the Knicks franchise. He’s said in the past that he, Kevin Durant and Carmelo Anthony have spoken about playing together. Anthony is in the first of a five-year deal with the Knicks, but Durant’s contract, which contains no option clauses, expires in the summer of 2016. That would align his free agency with Love’s if Love indeed opts in.
The absence of Love from the 2015 free agent market would clearly weaken the class, though there are still several intriguing names set to go up for grabs. Love’s teammate LeBron James has a player option for next season, too, and while he’ll almost certainly re-sign with the Cavs, it appears he won’t rule out a departure.
Love is in his seventh year in the league, so he’d be eligible for a starting salary of roughly 30% of the salary cap in his next contract. That 30% max is more than $17.695MM for this season, and that number will no doubt rise for next season, so Love figures to miss out on some significant money should he opt in.