Cavs, Kevin Love Complete Buyout; Heat In Lead To Sign Him

3:46pm: The buyout is now official and Love has been waived, the Cavs announced in a press release.

Kevin Love had an outstanding run with the Cavaliers, including memorable on-court moments, four NBA Finals appearances and an NBA Championship in 2016,” said president of basketball operations Koby Altman. “Kevin represented the organization and the city of Cleveland with the utmost charm and professionalism during his nine seasons in Northeast Ohio. 

“He also embodied everything a franchise would want in a player, and the admiration and gratitude we have for him will ultimately land his jersey in the rafters of Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse. We thank Kevin for his impact and wish him nothing but the best, knowing that he has solidified his place in the hearts of Cavaliers fans and this organization forever.”

11:07am: The Cavaliers and Love have completed a buyout, reports ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski (via Twitter). Wojnarowski confirms that Miami is the frontrunner to sign Love, but says he intends to talk to to the Sixers before finalizing a decision.

9:29am: The Heat have emerged as the frontrunners to sign Kevin Love once he finalizes a buyout agreement with the Cavaliers, according to Shams Charania of The Athletic (Twitter link).

As Charania explains, other teams with interest in signing Love believe he favors Miami due to the Heat’s ability to offer a defined role, as well as their position in the standings.

The Heat are currently the seventh seed in the East, but have a three-game cushion on the eight-place Hawks and are within striking distance of the Knicks and Nets, the two teams directly ahead of them for the East’s final two guaranteed playoff berths.

Miami has been on the lookout all season long for power forward help following P.J. Tucker‘s exit in free agency last summer. Caleb Martin has served as a de facto starter at that spot for much of the season, but the 6’5″ wing lacks the size to match up with stronger, more physical fours.

Love, who has been out of the Cavs’ rotation and is said to be nearing a buyout, can’t replicate what Tucker did for the Heat last season, since he’s not as stout or as versatile defensively. But the 34-year-old can bring some size, scoring, and rebounding to a Miami team that ranks 26th in the NBA in offensive rating (111.1) and 27th in rebounds per game (41.4).

Love’s averages of 8.5 PPG and 6.8 RPG on .389/.354/.889 shooting in 41 games (20.0 MPG) for the Cavs this season are somewhat underwhelming, but he put up 13.6 PPG, 7.2 RPG, and a .430/.392/.838 shooting line in a similar role (22.5 MPG) across 74 appearances for Cleveland last season.

The Heat have an opening on their 15-man roster, so no corresponding move would be necessary to add Love, though there are still a few steps to go before the move can become official. The Cavs will need to formally buy out and waive Love, then he’ll spend two days on waivers. Once he become a free agent, Miami would still need to hold off a last-minute push from rival suitors to make things official with the five-time All-Star.

The Suns are among the teams believed to have interest in Love, while the Lakers were also reportedly “kicking the tires,” ESPN’s Brian Windhorst said during a TV appearance (YouTube video link).

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