Kevin Love: To Stay or Not To Stay
It’s no question that power-forward Kevin Love helped out the Cleveland Cavaliers this season. Although Love sacrificed his double average that he had held since his sophomore season, the Cavaliers have praised Love for his attributions to the team. However, after facing a season-ending shoulder injury in game 4 of the first-round series against the Boston Celtics, Love will have a long time off of the court to think about next season.
Love has a player option for the 2015-16 season which would pay him in the midst of $16 million. The option gives Love many options in deciding what he wants to do next season.
The foremost decision Love can make is to opt in on the player option and stay with the Cavaliers for the season. Opting in would guarantee Love $16.7 million next year, and then he would then have two options: he could either sign a 5-year max deal with the Cavaliers which would pay him $143 million, or he could enter into free agency which would only allow him to sign a 4-year deal with the max salary of $106 million. In a January interview with Chris Haynes, Love said that he planned on opting in to remain with the Cavaliers for the season. However, a lot has happened since January.
If Love decides to opt out and test free agency this year, there are a plethora of teams that he could go to. The one team that has expressed the most interest in him is the Los Angeles Lakers. The Lakers, after coming off of one of the worst seasons in franchise history, are set up with a max-level salary cap and the possibility of three draft picks. The Lakers will be trying to lure in some big name players in the league, considering the 2015-16 season may likely being Kobe Bryant’s last. Love will most likely be the Lakers best hope at landing a superstar, although that possibility is still up in the air. Love, a standout player at UCLA, has already made it known that he loves playing in the West. With the likelihood of Kobe retiring after this season, Love would come to the franchise knowing he would be the future of the club. The only thing that may hinder this deal would be the question of what position he would play at the Lakers. Julius Randle will be coming off an injury and will most likely be the Lakers starting power forward next season. This would mean that Love would have to play center or even small forward, a position that would not fit him very well, as protecting the rim is not something he is known for.
Another option for Love if he opts out is to go to the Celtics, the team that is partially responsible for his injury. The Celtics are a very young, yet talented team. Danny Ainge has traded away all of the key players from the team, opening up the salary cap and has also managed to add a few draft picks, which they are hopeful will lead them to grab some more young talent. The Celtics have placed Love very high on their free agency wish list; he can rebound, he can shoot and he is a very good passer for his size. Boston is in need of a star player that will be able to propel them further into the playoffs next season.
Love has a lot of thinking to do, and the fate of the Cavaliers, who seem to be a bit over-matched in their series with the Bulls, will also play a role in what Love ultimately decides. Love has a deadline of June 30 to notify the Cavs of whether he is going to opt in or out.
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