Kevin Love turns 30 in September, and could have been a free agent next summer. Instead, the former All-NBA player was lavished with a 4-year, $120 million extension from Dan Gilbert and the Cavaliers.
It’s a head-scratching deal for Cleveland with only one logical conclusion: Gilbert didn’t want his Cavs to fall into an abyss the way they did last time LeBron left. But everyone has forgotten the positives that came out of that period: The Cavs were so bad, they ended up getting lucky in the lottery and landing Kyrie Irving.
This Kevin Love contract prevents them from falling in sub-20 wins territory and getting another franchise player. Or even getting in position to get a franchise player. And that’s why I don’t like this new deal.
Can you build a contender around Love? The Timberwolves couldn’t when Love was a 20-10 player in his early 20s; he’s probably not a 20-10 guy anymore, and you wonder if his injury-history – he’s missed significant time the last two years, and three of the last six – and lack of athletic ability heading into his 30s is a red flag.
The top three teams in the East appear set – Boston, Philadelphia, Toronto – and after that, Washington, Indiana, Miami and Milwaukee are scrambling for seeds 4-7.
Which leaves one spot for the Cavs, who will have really interesting decisions to make on where to get offense from. LeBron averaged 27-9-7 (in the regular season; it was 34-9-9 in the playoffs) and was the offense. Now you’re looking at …
C Tristan Thompson
F Kevin Love
F Cedi Osman
G JR Smith
G George Hill
I don’t think Collin Sexton starts in October; by December/January, he should. The 2nd unit will feature Jordan Clarkson and Larry Nance (both of whom I actually like). I have no idea how Kyle Korver fits into this team.
Even if Sexton exceeds all expectations and wins Rookie of the Year, and Love can recapture his 20-10 form and Cedi Osman plays a full season like he did two games in Summer League … is Cleveland’s ceiling 6th? If the East is beset by injuries, maybe an absolute best-case scenario of 5th?
And then you’re stuck in the middle for at least two more years, with no high draft picks.