Multiple sources have informed The Ringer’s Kevin O’Connor that pricey Cavaliers power forward Kevin Love would prefer to be traded to his hometown Trail Blazers. Love, a native of Lake Oswego, Oregon, is in the first year of a four-year, $120.1MM contract.
The big man, 31, missed 60 games last season with various maladies. Injuries also hindered his availability during the 2017/18 season. Love missed 23 games that year, his last All-Star season.
O’Connor opines that the expiring contracts of center Hassan Whiteside (who is earning $27.1MM) or wing Kent Bazemore ($19.3MM) could be used in a deal with Cleveland. Cavaliers center Tristan Thompson, currently earning $18.5MM in the final year of his deal, could also be a good fit in Portland, O’Connor notes. Injured center Jusuf Nurkic is expected to return to the floor for Portland well before the playoffs commence.
The 10-15 Blazers are seeded 11th in the competitive Western Conference at present, but they are just two games back of the 11-12 Suns, the current No. 8 seed in a crowded race for the bottom of the playoff bracket.
Even with the eighth seed in the Eastern Conference fairly open (the 11-12 Magic currently occupy that position), the 5-18 Cavaliers face an uphill battle to make the playoffs. Anonymous leaks suggest player dissatisfaction with new head coach John Beilein, and their young guards, Darius Garland and Collin Sexton, have both struggled to perform thus far this season. With Love apparently wanting out, too, the Cavs may be best served cutting their losses and stockpiling whatever assets they can extract from an interested trade partner.
O’Connor notes that the Suns and Nuggets may also be candidates for Love’s services ahead of the February 6th trade deadline.