Kevin Love

Free Agent Rumors: Brown, Lakers, Bridges, Cavs, Heat, Love

The Lakers are “increasingly confident” about their chances of signing Bruce Brown using the non-taxpayer mid-level exception, multiple sources tell Jovan Buha of The Athletic.

The Denver Post first reported on Wednesday that the Lakers have “significant” interest in Brown. A subsequent report suggested that the Nuggets‘ free agent guard may receive offers worth more than the mid-level, which would be virtually impossible for L.A. to match. However, Buha’s latest report suggests the Lakers still feel good about their odds of landing the versatile guard.

As Buha details, there’s a path for the Lakers to re-sign D’Angelo Russell, Austin Reaves, and Rui Hachimura while also using the full mid-level exception, which would hard-cap their team salary at approximately $172MM. That path would require the club to decline Malik Beasley‘s $16.5MM team option and waive Mohamed Bamba, whose $10.3MM salary is non-guaranteed.

Here are a few more free agent rumblings from around the NBA:

  • The Cavaliers have interest in Hornets restricted free agent Miles Bridges, sources tell Chris Fedor of However, with only the mid-level exception to offer, Cleveland is a long shot to land Bridges, given that Charlotte would match a mid-level offer sheet “in an instant,” Fedor writes. Sources tell that Bridges’ camp is expecting a significantly higher per-year salary.
  • Elsewhere within his look at the Cavaliers‘ options in free agency, Fedor says Max Strus would be near the top of the team’s wish list if he’s attainable with the mid-level exception, which he may not be. Fedor adds that Cleveland is in the market for more forward depth in addition to a two-way wing, naming Georges Niang as a possible target.
  • The Heat and Kevin Love have mutual interest in working out a new deal, according to Barry Jackson of The Miami Herald. Miami only holds Love’s Non-Bird rights, so he’d likely have to accept a minimum-salary contract or something slightly above that if he wants to return.
  • In an entertaining piece for, Howard Beck speaks to a number of anonymous team executives about their expectations for the NBA’s 2023 offseason.

Heat Notes: Offseason, Vincent, Strus, Herro, Lillard, Beal

After an improbable run to the NBA Finals, the Heat face an offseason filled with important financial decisions, writes Anthony Chiang of The Miami Herald.

Miami has just seven players with guaranteed salaries for next season, but Victor Oladipo is almost certain to pick up his $9.5MM option after suffering a knee injury in the playoffs and the team is expected to guarantee Haywood Highsmith‘s $1.9MM salary. With an estimated cap hit of about $3MM for the No. 18 pick, the Heat will have roughly $176MM committed, putting them well over the projected $162MM luxury tax line and in sight of the new $179.5MM second apron.

Kevin Love, Max Strus, Gabe Vincent and Cody Zeller are all headed to unrestricted free agency, while Omer Yurtseven will be restricted if Miami makes a $2.26MM qualifying offer. In addition, Miami has already been linked to potential trades involving Damian Lillard and Bradley Beal.

“The goal is to win a championship, and this organization will do anything possible for that to happen,” Bam Adebayo said at Wednesday’s exit interviews. “I feel like everybody in here knows it’s a business. And that’s why you cherish the moments you go through with your teammates, with your brothers because you never know what can happen next year.”

There’s more from Miami:

  • The Heat hold Bird rights on Vincent and Strus, so they can go over the cap to re-sign them, although that would increase their tax bill, Chiang adds. Both players indicated that they plan to explore all their options. “Money plays a role, place plays a role, situation plays a role,” Vincent said. There’s a lot of things that factor in and I think it will all take care of itself throughout the summer.”
  • Tyler Herro didn’t address reporters on Wednesday, but coach Erik Spoelstra expanded on his decision to not use him in Game 5, per Ira Winderman of The Sun-Sentinel. Herro received medical clearance Monday afternoon after missing nearly two months following hand surgery. “It’s also my job, as the head coach, to protect him, and do what we think was best for the team,” Spoelstra said. “… And there’s no knowing for sure, but I do know that that was just a totally unusual circumstance that you can’t compare to anything else. But the good news is he’ll have a great offseason and he’ll be fully ready to go next year.”
  • With trade rumors flying around the Heat, Barry Jackson of The Miami Herald proposes a scenario in which the team could acquire both Lillard and Beal while keeping Adebayo and Jimmy Butler.

Nuggets Win First Title, Jokic Named MVP

The Nuggets secured their first championship on Monday night, completing a 4-1 series victory over the Heat with a 94-89 victory. The Nuggets joined the NBA in 1976 after the league’s merger with the ABA.

Nikola Jokic, the league’s two-time Most Valuable Player in the regular season, was named the MVP of the Finals, NBA Communications tweets. He had 28 points, 16 rebounds and four assists in the clinching victory. For the series, Jokic averaged 30.2 points, 14.0 rebounds and 7.2 assists per night.

Jokic and the team’s other star, Jamal Murray, carried the Nuggets throughout the playoffs. However, the team’s role players made some of the biggest plays in Game 5.

Bruce Brown had the go-ahead put-back in the late going and hit clinching free throws. In between, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope had a key steal and made two clutch free throws.

Denver is well-positioned to make a run at back-to-back titles and beyond. Jokic, Murray, Aaron Gordon and Michael Porter Jr. are all signed through at least the 2024/25 season. Caldwell-Pope has two more years left on his contract, though he can opt out next summer.

There’s a good chance Brown will go elsewhere. He will almost certainly decline his $6.8MM option and the team doesn’t own his Bird rights, limiting its ability to offer much of a raise.

Jeff Green and a handful of other veteran reserves will be unrestricted free agents, though the Nuggets have some quality young players on rookie contracts poised to take on bigger roles, including Christian Braun and Peyton Watson.

The Heat have some key players entering free agency, most notably Gabe Vincent, Max Strus and Kevin Love.

With the Finals decided, the 2023 NBA offseason is officially underway. The draft will be held in 10 days with free agency beginning the following week.

Heat Notes: Butler, Lowry, Love, Game 5

The competitive nature and gruff demeanors of Jimmy Butler and Kyle Lowry brought them together, first as friends and then as teammates, writes Nick Friedell of ESPN. They formed a bond as rivals earlier in their careers, and Butler was heavily involved in recruiting Lowry to Miami when he decided to leave Toronto two years ago.

“It wasn’t a pitch,” Lowry recalled. “(It was:) Bring your ass here.”

Kevin Love compares it to having two versions of Oscar the Grouch on the same team, but their shared approach to the game has fit right into the Heat Culture philosophy. Lowry desperately wants to win a title for his friend, and Butler recognizes Lowry’s role in sparking Miami’s run to the NBA Finals.

“Everything he is about is about winning,” Butler said. “Whenever you get with other guys that they’re only about winning, that’s all that matters. It’s not about stats, and about how many shots you get, not about how many stops you get, whatever you’re asked of to do to help the squad win — that’s why we rock with one another.”

There’s more on the Heat:

  • Butler’s commitment to leadership includes specialized pre-game handshake routines with all his teammates, Friedell adds in another ESPN story. They range from the complex to the obscene, but each represents a connection that Butler has with another player. “You’re talking about the journeys that I’ve had with so many different guys,” he said. “It’s all about making us smile, keeping it free flowing, no pressure, you’re not worried about nothing. Just two human beings, two brothers, two teammates, two guys that’s in the trenches together and you just come up with something out of nowhere, but it’s us.”
  • Love will be ready for Monday’s Game 5 after his wife gave birth to their first child over the weekend, per Joe Vardon of The Athletic. Love didn’t accompany his teammates on their flight to Denver, but he joined them late Saturday night.
  • A 3-1 deficit hasn’t dulled the Heat’s competitive instincts, Vardon adds. Coach Erik Spoelstra talked about the team’s situation as the “ultimate challenge,” and Butler said the players remain committed to their dreams of winning a title. “All the odds, 8 seed, dadadadada, nah, none of that matters,” he said. “It’s just two really good basketball teams. One has to get one win, and one has to get three.”

Cavaliers Notes: Bickerstaff, Mitchell, Love, Draft

The Cavaliers were disappointed by their first-round playoff exit, but they never considered making a coaching change, Kelsey Russo of The Athletic writes in a mailbag column. President of basketball operations Koby Altman said in a post-playoff news conference that the organization remains committed to J.B. Bickerstaff, and Russo doesn’t believe next season should be considered “make or break” for him.

The Cavs continue to show progress under Bickerstaff, reaching the 51-win mark this season for the first time in six years. They also claimed the fourth seed and gained some valuable playoff experience for a roster that largely lacked it. In addition, Bickerstaff has strong support from his players, Russo adds.

“Since Day 1, I fell in love with the culture that they built here,” Ricky Rubio said. “I fell in love with how J.B. treats everybody, and it’s something that, that’s why I came back. And, of course, when you see results, you can look back and say, ‘Oh, I wish he could do this or that better.’ But at the end of the day, in the heat at the moment, it’s super hard to really see sometimes. And I think what he built here is something special. He’s a great locker room guy.”

There’s more from Cleveland:

  • Lauri Markkanen had a breakout season in Utah, but Russo doesn’t think the Cavaliers would have been better off by holding onto him, Ochai Agbaji, and the collection of draft picks they gave the Jazz in the Donovan Mitchell trade. She points out that Markkanen benefited from returning to his natural position of power forward in Utah, which wouldn’t have happened in Cleveland with Evan Mobley on the roster. She adds that having a superstar in Mitchell is more valuable than the various pieces that were surrendered to acquire him.
  • The Cavs’ buyout decision with Kevin Love looks worse than it actually was because of Miami’s run to the Finals and Cleveland’s playoff failure, Chris Fedor of states in a mailbag column. He notes that Bickerstaff removed Love from the rotation because he wasn’t producing and the team had other players who were more effective. Back and thumb injuries contributed to Love’s down season in Cleveland, but he only shot 30% from the field in his final 15 games with the Cavs and was frequently targeted on defense.
  • Holding just the 49th pick in this year’s draft, the Cavaliers had to be disappointed by seeing so many prospects decide to return to school, Fedor adds. Sources tell Fedor that Kentucky’s Chris Livingston will work out for the team next week, and a session has been scheduled with Eastern Michigan’s Emoni Bates. Fedor also hears that Cleveland invited Kansas State’s Keyontae Johnson to work out, but he’ll probably turn it down because he believes he’ll be off the board by No. 49.

Heat Notes: Love, Herro, Vincent, Strus, Lillard

Kevin Love remained in the Heat‘s starting lineup Wednesday, but the results weren’t nearly as good as they were in Game 2, writes Anthony Chiang of The Miami Herald. After sitting out the series opener, Love provided a spark in Sunday’s win at Denver and helped to neutralize the Nuggets’ height advantage.

He sank a three-pointer about a minute into Game 3 and drew an early charge on Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, but Love wasn’t as impactful on Wednesday night. He played just 16 minutes with six points and two rebounds while shooting 2-of-5 from the field.

Miami had been 11-2 in the playoffs with Love as a starter before Wednesday, but the starting five was badly outplayed by Denver. They were outscored by 10 points in their 16 minutes together and allowed the Nuggets to take control of the game early in the third quarter. Coach Erik Spoelstra has just one off day to consider whether he wants to adjust his starters again before the series resumes Friday night.

There’s more from Miami:

  • The prospect of a Tyler Herro return appear less likely as the series wears on, Chiang adds. Herro has been able to practice, but he hasn’t received medical clearance yet to take part in games. The Heat have been listing him as day-to-day, but he hasn’t played since breaking two fingers on his right hand in Miami’s first playoff contest. “I don’t have another update for you,” Spoelstra told reporters before Game 3. “He is scheduled to have another full-contact workout (Thursday). He has not been cleared yet. So until he has been cleared, a lot of this stuff is really just hypothetical.”
  • The Heat didn’t get much production from their complementary players in Wednesday’s loss, notes Barry Jackson of The Miami Herald. After scoring 19 and 23 points in the first two games of the Finals, Gabe Vincent shot just 2-of-10 on a seven-point night. Max Strus was 1-of-7 and Duncan Robinson only took two shots in the game’s first 45 minutes before sinking two late threes.
  • Vincent and Strus are both in line for big raises in free agency, with a rival executive telling Darren Rovell of The Action Network that they may be able to land new contracts starting at $15MM per season. He also added that there’s a certain amount of risk for teams pursuing either player. “I’ve invested in players who had breakouts like these guys did and they turned out to be duds because they were just good in the system they were in,” the executive said. “If it doesn’t work out, you might never really know why. The teams that are going to be paying $12 to $15 million for Gabe Vincent and Max Strus are low- to mid-tier teams and they are going to be asked to do more on a consistent basis.”
  • Damian Lillard identified the Heat as a potential destination if he were to ask for a trade, but the Trail Blazers star said that’s “definitely” not happening if Miami wins the title, according to a tweet from NBA Central.

Heat Notes: Love, Herro, Butler, Adebayo

Erik Spoelstra made an important lineup change that helped the Heat draw even in the NBA Finals, writes Barry Jackson of The Miami Herald. Kevin Love, who sat out the last two games of the Eastern Conference Finals and the first game against the Nuggets, was back in the starting lineup Sunday to counteract Denver’s size advantage.

Love put up modest numbers with six points and 10 rebounds in 22 minutes, but the Heat outscored the Nuggets by 18 points while he was on the court. After the game, Spoelstra regretted that he didn’t try the veteran forward in the series opener.

“I didn’t have the foresight; that’s on me,” Spoelstra said. “We just went through what finished the previous series. Clearly we needed that size and physicality that Kevin brings.”

“That’s a great coaching adjustment, putting Kevin Love in the starting lineup,” Kyle Lowry added. “… Kevin is the ultimate pro. He changed our locker room with his energy and effort.” 

There’s more on the Heat:

  • Tyler Herro still hasn’t received medical clearance, but there are reports that he might be ready when the series resumes Wednesday night in Miami, Jackson adds. Herro was able to practice with the team on Saturday. “We’re really encouraged by the progress,” Spoelstra said. “He started doing contact work as soon as we got to Denver. We have to maintain perspective. We want to be responsible about this. We’re all excited and encouraged by his progress, but we’ll get back to Miami. All we’re doing is sticking to the process, trying to stack positive days, also understanding this is not trying to return to a game in December. This is the Finals. So there is a little bit of context to this.”
  • Jimmy Butler spent Saturday night working on his shot with personal trainer Chris Brickley, according to Ramona Shelburne of ESPN. He concentrated on taking the ball inside in Game 2, Shelburne notes, with 14 of his 19 shots coming from within 18 feet of the basket. He also got to the line five times after not shooting any free throws in the opener. “He just likes figuring things out,” Brickley said. “When he’s making those short shots, everything is different. So we worked on it.”
  • Bam Adebayo has been Miami’s best player through the first two games of the series, states Joe Vardon of The Athletic. Adebayo delivered 21 points, nine rebounds, four assists and two blocks on Sunday after a 26-point performance in Game 1 while matching up with Nikola Jokic. “Bam, we just can’t say enough of how difficult his responsibilities are in this series,” Spoelstra said. “To take arguably the toughest cover in the league for all the myriad of reasons that I don’t need to get into, and then he has to shoulder a big offensive role for us as well.”

Heat Notes: Butler, Shooters, Riley, Love

All-NBA forward Jimmy Butler had a fairly modest showing in the Heat‘s 103-94 Game 1 loss to the Nuggets, scoring 13 points on 6-of-14 shooting from the floor. He also chipped in seven rebounds, seven assists, a steal and a block in 38 minutes of action.

As William Guillory of The Athletic writes, the Heat need Butler to return to his “Playoff Jimmy” mode, the unstoppable force that propelled Miami to its second NBA Finals berth in his first four years with the team.

“I just think I’ve got to do a better job of getting the ball, demanding the ball, being more aggressive,” Butler reflected following a team practice Saturday. “Yes, they do have some really good defenders, but I have seen really good defenders before.”

Guillory notes that Butler averaged 29.9 PPG on 50.5% shooting from the floor, along with 5.6 APG, across his first 14 playoff games in this run. His shooting output has taken a significant dip across the most recent four contests. In those games, the 6’7″ wing has averaged 19.8 PPG on 38.4% shooting from the floor, plus 6.5 APG.

There’s more out of Miami:

  • A more assertive scoring night in Game 2 from Butler will unlock the team’s shooters following a lackluster Game 1 turn, opines Vincent Goodwill of Yahoo Sports. “They definitely follow suit whenever I’m aggressive on both sides of the ball,” Butler said. “So I have to be the one to come out and kick that off the right way, which I will, and we’ll see where we end up.” Miami swingmen Max Strus and Duncan Robinson shot 1-of-14 from the floor on Thursday.
  • Heat president Pat Riley remains hungry to win his 10th NBA title at age 78. He has won as a player, an assistant coach, a head coach and in his current role as front office leader. Several of Riley’s peers spoke to Josh Peter of USA Today about what drives the Hall of Famer. “You can see his fingerprints over all the stuff they’re doing down there,” Riley’s former Lakers teammate and colleague Jerry West told Peter. “I mean, they’re never going to quit and they’re never going to die.”
  • Heat power forward Kevin Love has had an up-and-down postseason run, shifting from a starting gig as recently as Game 5 of the Eastern Conference Finals to his third straight healthy scratch in Game 1 of the Finals. As Anthony Chiang of The Miami Herald writes, the 34-year-old is trying to remain prepared, whatever the role. “For me, what I’m doing is just staying ready,” Love said. “But certainly, the Nuggets are a very big team. You saw it in the first two rounds, how we matched up against both New York and Milwaukee. I think the luxury is I’ll be sitting there waiting. If my number is called, great. If not, I’m going to support these guys the best I can.” Love is appearing in his fifth NBA Finals, after starting in four straight for the Cavaliers from 2015-18.

Heat Notes: Highsmith, Herro, Injuries, Strus, Love

Haywood Highsmith may see consistent minutes throughout the NBA Finals after scoring 18 points in the series opener, writes Peter Baugh of The Athletic. Heat coach Erik Spoelstra played Highsmith more than 23 minutes off the bench in Game 1 and trusted him to share the responsibility of guarding Jamal Murray.

Earning playing time hasn’t been easy for the third-year swingman, who was barely used for most of the Eastern Conference Finals. He had a breakthrough performance when he scored 15 points in 36 minutes in Game 5 against Boston.

The 26-year-old has taken an unconventional road to the NBA Finals, playing at a Division II college and then being waived three times by the Sixers. Miami gave him an opportunity with a 10-day contract last season, and he earned two more before signing a three-year deal. He takes pride in being one of seven undrafted players on the team’s roster.

“(The Heat) see something in us that nobody else saw in us as undrafted guys, kind of like hidden gems,” Highsmith said. “They believe in us, and they do a great job with developing us and taking us up under their wing and just making us be the best players we can be.”

There’s more on the Heat:

  • Tyler Herro has been declared out for Game 2, but that doesn’t mean it’s certain that he won’t play, according to Barry Jackson of The Miami Herald. Jackson states that NBA rules allow teams to change the status of injured players, so Herro could be activated before Sunday night if he continues to make progress in his recovery from hand surgery. Jackson adds that Caleb Martin is listed as questionable with an illness that the team describes as a head issue, and Cody Zeller is questionable with a sprained right foot.
  • Jimmy Butler hasn’t lost faith in Martin and Max Strus, who combined to shoot 1-of-17 in Game 1, Jackson adds. Butler said he’ll still set them up for the same shots, and Strus remarked that he’s eager to put his scoreless night behind him. “You can’t dwell on it,” he said. “Luckily, it was only Game 1 so we got more to play. But I’m ready. I wanted to play right after the game was over.”
  • In an interview with Sam Amick of The Athletic, Kevin Love offers his perspective as a relative newcomer to Heat culture after signing with the team in February. “I think it’s definitely a level of focus and professionalism, attention to detail and winning at all costs, that is not always the case (with other teams),” Love said. “Or there’s moments throughout the season (where you have that focus with other teams), but this is all-in for all 82. And then after that, it’s taking it up even another notch. And I’ve felt that, and understood that, and I’ve only been here for three months.”

Heat Notes: Robinson, Vincent, Strus, Love, Haslem

The Heat‘s unexpectedly deep playoff run has improved the league-wide perception of several of the team’s key contributors, writes Barry Jackson of The Miami Herald.

According to a scout who spoke to Jackson, Duncan Robinson‘s contract – which has three years and $57MM left after this season – now looks more tradable as opposed to being a “complete albatross.” Meanwhile, players like Gabe Vincent and Max Strus, who are headed for unrestricted free agency, are poised to cash in nicely this summer.

“I’ve gone from thinking (Vincent) is a good $3MM backup to a $10MM, $11MM player; he’s worth that in today’s NBA,” the scout said. “The guy has produced when it counts, and that’s what teams are looking for. He has risen to the occasion. … He’s never afraid of the moment. You get high effort defensively. Decent play-maker, has toughness. To me, his value correlates a lot to his scoring, but he does do other things that teams value.”

Ira Winderman explores the same subject in a story for The Sun Sentinel, noting that ESPN’s Bobby Marks believes both Vincent and Strus could get starting salaries around the full mid-level exception ($12.2MM) when they hit the market in a few weeks.

Here’s more on the Heat:

  • Five undrafted Heat players – Vincent, Strus, Robinson, Caleb Martin, and Haywood Highsmith – played at least 20 minutes in Game 1 of the NBA Finals. While those players appreciated Erik Spoelstra‘s recent assertion that the fixation on their undrafted status is “disrespectful,” they also don’t want to dismiss the obstacles they had to overcome to become rotation players on a Finals team, per Anthony Chiang of The Miami Herald. “You want to be labeled as an NBA player, but you don’t forget the road you took to get here, you don’t forget where you started and where you came from,” Martin said. “That’s what makes it also very special. I think that’s why our connection is so great, because near half our team went through the same stuff. I think the fact that’s the case has also helped us get to this point. So just as much as it can get old, it’s also very special.”
  • Kevin Love‘s numbers since he joined the Heat have been modest and his minutes have fluctuated, but teammate Duncan Robinson believes the veteran forward has been a difference-maker off the court for the club. “I think he totally changed the whole dynamic of our locker room,” Robinson said of Love on The Old Man and the Three podcast (hat tip to Jackson at The Miami Herald). “Just his character, his levity, what he brought in terms of just connecting people, having a sense of humor. When you have a guy who’s played in four NBA Finals, won a championship, gets pulled from a rotation in the middle of a series and his immediate reaction is uplifting the guy that’s replacing him — that alone sets the tone down the line for everybody else.”
  • While Udonis Haslem admits it would be an “amazing” ending to his own career if the Heat win a championship this spring before he retires, he said this week that he wants a title more for his teammates than for himself. “I want it for the guys that haven’t won any,” Haslem said, according to Chiang. “I want it for Jimmy Butler. I want it for those guys more so than anything.”