The Cleveland Cavaliers need to buy out Kevin Love's contract

There's no point in having the former All-Star on their roster anymore and the Cavaliers have to do right by Love.

In a surprising turn of events, Cavaliers All-Star forward Kevin Love announced that he would be withdrawing from playing in the Olympic Games in Tokyo. According to sources, Love's nagging calf injury, which sidelined him for the majority of last season with Cleveland, is the reason why Love will remain in the United States.

"I am incredibly disappointed to not be heading to Tokyo with Team USA," Love said in a statement released by agent Jeff Schwartz, "but you need to be at absolute peak performance to compete at the Olympic level and I am just not there yet."

This time with Team USA was supposed to be a reset for Love. For his mind. His health. His game. His morale. His perceived value. After a frustrating three-year stretch dotted not only with injuries but also losses, public outbursts, conflicts with management, and trade rumors, this was Love's first opportunity to prove he could still be a player in this league. It was a chance to play in meaningful games for the first time in years, to be back in a winning environment surrounded by some of the NBA’s best players as opposed to Cleveland’s inexperienced roster that often sparked his frustration.

Love spent 10 days with Team USA in Las Vegas preparing for the XXXII Olympiad and during that time looked off in exhibition play. In his two appearances against Nigeria and Argentina Love averaged 0.5 points, 2.5 rebounds, 2.0 assists, and 0.5 steals. Love was never expected to have a prominent role on Team USA's roster but according to sources, the hope was that Love could boost his trade value this offseason. But, after multiple oft-injured seasons, this latest blow has more or less cratered Love's status around the league.

It's no secret at this point that Love wanted out of Cleveland soon after signing a mammoth four-year, $120 million extension that kicked in during the 2019-20 season. Since signing that extension three years ago, Love has only appeared in 103 of 219 games for the Cavaliers. With over $60 million remaining on his contract, it feels like Cleveland trading Love is out of the question at this point. So, it seems like he's going to have to go through another season in Cleveland since, according to sources, the former All-Star is not considering retirement at this time.

League sources also say that if and when Love enters his eighth season with the Cavaliers, he will be expected to play a reduced role with the team. Cleveland is prioritizing the future and if the team does select Evan Mobley third-overall in the 2021 NBA Draft (the Cavaliers seem to be locked in on Mobley, per sources), they will want to give the rookie lion's share of minutes at the power forward position, where Love typically starts. There's also reserve forwards Larry Nance Jr. and Dean Wade, who are both also in the team's future plans as well, that will soak up even more of Love's minutes.

That means that Cleveland will be paying $31.3 million for a bench player that will likely hardly come off the bench next season. That's unacceptable and unrealistic for both the Cavaliers and Love. That's why if Cleveland is unable to find a suitable trade partner for Love they need to buy out the remainder of his contract. It's a tough pill to swallow for all parties involved but it's the reality of the situation. For Love, it would allow him to move on and spend the remainder of his career playing for a contender. According to sources, if Love were bought out then the Portland Trail Blazers, the Brooklyn Nets, the Golden State Warriors, the Los Angeles Lakers and the Los Angeles Clippers would be interested in his services. But, due to his injury history, age and contract, none of those aforementioned teams are remotely interested in trading for him.

For the Cavaliers, meanwhile, the cost of stability and normalcy in your organization may finally have a price tag. Unfortunately, it's going to cost them $60.2 million over the next two seasons depending on how much money Love is willing to leave on the table during negotiations. If this contract buyout ends up being similar to Blake Griffin's with the Detroit Pistons, then Love could realistically give up $13.3 million. That means the price tag for the Cavaliers would reduce to $46.9 million over the next two years.

That number is a lot more palatable for Cleveland compared to Love's initial price tag. If they want to break it up over the next two seasons, it would also give the Cavaliers an additional $6.6 million to play around with in free agency. Or, another route for Cleveland would have them stretch the remainder of Love's salary over five seasons to the tune of $9.4 million per year. If they were to do that, the Cavaliers would suddenly have $15.6 million in cap space to play around with. They could then sign Jarrett Allen to a five-year, $100 million extension and still have an additional $7.3 million to round out the remainder of the roster.

Knowing this, along with the fact that Cleveland general manager Koby Altman is on the hot seat heading into next season, it feels like the Cavaliers will consider stretching the remainder of Love's salary if they were to waive him. The ability to create additional financial flexibility now to pursue free agents like Alex Caruso or Doug McDermott is invaluable to a team like Cleveland looking to compete right away. All of this, of course, hinges on what the Cavaliers do with Love. It's a sad way to see his Cavaliers career end like this but it's for the best for all parties involved.


Thanks for reading!

Let’s stay in touch. The Right Down Euclid newsletter is a recap of the week’s top stories.

Sign up for free now. You can unsubscribe any time.

This site uses cookies to provide you with a great user experience. By continuing to use this website, you consent to the use of cookies in accordance with our privacy policy.

Scroll to Top