THURSDAY, 2:51pm: Love has officially opted out, reports Eric Pincus of Basketball Insiders (Twitter link).
WEDNESDAY, 1:21pm: Kevin Love is opting out of his contract with the Cavaliers and will become a free agent, reports Marc Stein of ESPN.com (Twitter link). The deadline for Love to make a decision isn’t until Thursday, as Chris Haynes of the Northeast Ohio Media Group reported earlier (on Twitter), so the power forward still has the power to change his mind if he wants. The league has no mechanism for players to officially turn down options, as those with player options simply allow the deadline to pass if they don’t want to opt in, but Stein indicates that Love’s decision to opt out is final. Cavs GM David Griffin said last week that he was expecting Love to opt out but re-sign with the club in July, and Love has time and again said he intends to remain with Cleveland. Opting out is nonetheless an about-face for Love, who told Haynes in January that he would instead opt in.
Opting out would appear the wise financial play for the Jeff Schwartz client, since he’d make only slightly more than $16.744MM on the option but stands to make as much as the max, an estimated $18.96MM, if he indeed opts out. Some executives have been predicting that the Cavs will sign-and-trade him to one of his many suitors, given the success Cleveland had without him while he was out with a shoulder injury during the playoffs, though Griffin insists he wants to keep the core of his team together, as Grantland’s Zach Lowe wrote earlier this week. There’s little doubt the Cavs will put a max offer of their own on the table for him, as Brian Windhorst of ESPN.com wrote in late April, several weeks after ESPN colleague Chris Broussard had heard from rival executives who’d begun to question that prospect.
The Celtics and Lakers have been most frequently linked to Love over the past several months, even as the former All-Star has consistently batted down rumors that he’ll depart the Cavs. Love has nonetheless been a poor fit in Cleveland, which gave up Andrew Wiggins in the trade to acquire him, and Cleveland is reportedly staring at the possibility of a $100-110MM payroll as it seeks to keep its roster together.