Kevin Love silenced many rumors when he said in January that he plans to opt in for next season with the Cavs, but rival executives have begun to question whether Cleveland would want to re-sign Love for the maximum salary if he were to opt out, according to Chris Broussard of ESPN (video link). Many executives think Love will leave the Cavs, perhaps to sign with the Lakers, Broussard also says, reiterating earlier reports that the power forward has denied amid continued insistence that he’d like to stay in Cleveland. The Cavs haven’t given any indication that their desire for Love has waned, Broussard cautioned.
Love has missed the last two games because of a minor back ailment, and when he has played, he’s often sat out during fourth quarters. He hinted of frustration earlier this month with a role that has him acting as more of a spot-up shooter than in the past, though he’s mostly remained upbeat even amid a downturn in his scoring and rebounding averages and shot attempts per game. The Cavs have taken off despite the failure of Love to once again become the dynamic force he had been in years past with the Timberwolves, with Cleveland having gone 24-6 over its last 30 games to climb comfortably into second place in the Eastern Conference.
The 26-year-old has a player option worth $16.744MM for next season, but he’d likely be in line for a higher salary on a maximum-salary contract if he were to opt out and if a team were to make such an offer. The Cavs have plenty of other concerns this offseason, when all but five of their players can hit free agency, making it a distinct possibility that the team will have to pay the luxury tax next season if it returns largely intact.
The Celtics are reportedly among the teams planning a run at Love if he opts out, and he’d reportedly be willing to at least take a meeting with the Lakers if he becomes a free agent. In spite of his insistence that he wants a long-term future in Cleveland, the majority of Hoops Rumors readers believe he won’t remain on the Cavs next season.