On Tuesday, Cleveland Cavaliers forward Kevin Love committed to the twelve-man Team USA roster that will compete in the 2020 Summer Olympics held in Tokyo, according to league sources. Love, who averaged 12.2 points, 7.4 rebounds and 2.5 assists per game last season, will be joining a Team USA squad that already features superstars like Kevin Durant, James Harden and Damian Lillard.
Joining Love, albeit in a reserve role, is Cavaliers point guard Darius Garland. On the night of the 2021 NBA Draft Lottery, Cleveland general manager Koby Altman shared with the media that Garland was invited to join the Team USA Select Team in Las Vegas in July. The Select Team, coached by Miami Heat head coach Erik Spoelstra, will practice and scrimmage with the twelve-man roster before the main team heads over to Tokyo.
Jarrett Allen, Love’s frontcourt partner in Cleveland, meanwhile, has told Team USA officials he is not interested in joining the twelve-man roster, according to league sources. While it is disappointing for Cleveland fans to not be able to see two Cavaliers represent the United States at the XXXII Olympiad, it makes sense why Allen elected not to. In August, Allen will be a restricted free agent and according to sources, doesn’t want to risk anything playing for Team USA in Tokyo, according to those same sources.
“Jarrett plays a role that's considered a dinosaur by some in today's NBA," said one unnamed Eastern Conference executive. "That already makes it tricky to negotiate his contract. Why would he risk possible injury going out there for the United States? It could cost him millions of dollars if it were to happen."
If Allen were to sign an extension with Cleveland it would likely be a four-year, $90 million contract. According to sources, the Cavaliers are determined to retain their young center and will likely match most offers Allen could sign with another team. The same source also said that Allen would prefer to stay in Cleveland because the Cavaliers are an organization that, "finally made him feel wanted".
Like Garland, Love also gets the opportunity to play with some of the best in the world and add more to his Hall of Fame resume. But, the improved quality of the team surrounding Love also helps the Cavaliers as well.
“That’s a tremendous honor for us,” said Cleveland general manager Koby Altman. “Darius getting to go against that caliber of player every day in practice, at his age, is tremendous. I think people are taking note nationally of how good Darius has become and his talent level. For us to get that call about Darius today, we’re thrilled.
“To have two guys in the system, working out in Vegas, is going to be great.”
For Garland, being able to play alongside some of the best in the world and learn from one of the league's best coaches will be massive for his development. He'll also have to go up against the likes of Jrue Holiday and Devin Booker on a daily basis as well which will only hone his craft further. According to sources, the tides are shifting towards the Cavaliers being Garland's team already and this time with Team USA will only make that happen sooner.
Like Garland, Love also gets the opportunity to play with some of the best in the world and add more to his Hall of Fame resume. But, the improved quality of the team surrounding Love also helps the Cavaliers as well. It's no secret at this point that Love's mammoth four-year, $120 million extension was a mistake in hindsight for Cleveland. The former All-Star just cannot stay consistently healthy at this point in his career. That, and when Love's frustrations with his situation with the Cavaliers (the team has lost 159 games since he signed the extension) boiled over into the media, it became clear that a breakup for both parties was mutually beneficial through a trade.
The problem with that is the fact that Love is oft-injured and makes so much money. At this point, it felt like a buyout was inevitable for Love and the Cavaliers would have to carry his salary on their payroll for a bit longer. But, this opportunity with Team USA gives Cleveland a ray of hope for still trading Love. If Love were to play well for Team USA, then opposing teams would likely warm up to the idea of trading for him, especially contenders. Thankfully, international play is tailormade for Love's playstyle at the five and due to the overwhelming strength of the United States squad, it will likely provide some strong exhibitions for the Cavaliers forward.
It also helps that Love's skillset is valuable in today's NBA – he can space the floor and provides tertiary playmaking at his position. If his value is bolstered by his time spent with Team USA, then teams like the Portland Trail Blazers or Philadelphia 76ers would probably be interested in trading for him. There's still plenty of time between now and then but one thing is for sure: the Cavaliers, and their players, will benefit from Olympic basketball this offseason.
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