8:28am: Love acknowledged not having returned any of Olynyk’s calls, as Chris Haynes of the Northeast Ohio Media Group wrote after a one-on-one with the Cavs power forward, Love is saving the conversation with Olynyk for later, but Love insists that he’s moved past the incident, Haynes writes.
“Oh yeah. I’m over it,” Love said. “I’m just trying to get healthy.”
8:21am: The Cavs have “a legitimate fear” that Kevin Love will leave the team in free agency this summer, as Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! Sports said in an appearance on the Dan Patrick Show (video link; transcription via Kurt Helin of ProBasketballTalk.com). That’s in spite of his his repeated insistence that he plans to remain in Cleveland, a January proclamation that he would opt in, and shoulder injury that threatens to keep him out for training camp next season. Still, rumors have persisted, and before the injury, people around the Cavs and the rest of the league believed the All-Star power forward wouldn’t hesitate to leave Cleveland, as Wojnarowski wrote last month.
The Celtics had closed the gap on the Lakers as a preferred destination for Love before the injury, Wojnarowski reported then, but Sean Deveney of The Sporting News wrote this week that the Lakers are well out in front among non-Cavs alternatives. Celtics forward/center Kelly Olynyk caused the injury when he hooked Love’s arm as the two were chasing a loose ball, and Olynyk and his camp have continually reached out to Love and his people in hopes of arranging a chance for Olynyk to apologize to Love in private, Wojnarowski writes in a full story. Love, who had a “legitimate loathing” of the Celtics in the immediate wake of the injury, has turned away the effort so far, according to Wojnarowski.
Love has a player option worth more than $16.744MM for next season, but he would earn an estimated $18.96MM in 2015/16 if he opts out and signs a maximum-salary deal. Hitting free agency in 2016 would let him take advantage of a salary cap that preliminary projections show zooming from $67.1MM to $89MM, but those same projections indicate that another giant leap, to $108MM, is due in 2017. That summer of 2017 is complicated by the specter of the mutual option the league and the players union possess to opt out of the collective bargaining agreement, and there are no guarantees that the structure of the contracts that Love and anyone else could sign would be the same.
Thus, it might behoove the Jeff Schwartz client to either opt in this summer or sign a new contract that allows him an out after one season. If he becomes a free agent this year with the intention of doing so again in 2016, there would be no greater financial advantage to signing with the Cavs this summer as opposed to another team with the capacity to give him the max. The NBA’s built-in edge for incumbent teams applies to raises on multiyear deals and the length of contracts, neither of which would be factors in a single-season arrangement.