UPDATE (Feb. 19): Kevin Love plans to sign with the Heat after the veteran forward cleared waivers, per ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski.
The last remaining piece of the Cavaliers’ 2016 title team appears to be on his way out of Cleveland.
Kevin Love and the Cavaliers are in the process of finalizing a contract buyout, according to The Athletic’s Shams Charania and Jason Lloyd. The 34-year-old forward, whom the Cavs acquired in 2014 after LeBron James returned to the team, has been out of Cleveland’s rotation since logging 12 minutes in a Jan. 24 game against New York.
Now, Love will search for a new team that can offer him a better opportunity to contribute down the final stretch of the regular season and during a potential playoff run.
What led Love and the Cavs to part ways? And where could he go when he officially becomes a free agent?
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Why did Cavaliers buy out Kevin Love?
After a strong start to the 2022-23 season, Love suffered a thumb injury in November that seemed to impact his shooting touch. He hit 40.4 percent of his 3-point attempts from Oct. 19 through Nov. 21, but since that hot month, he has dropped down to 31.1 percent from deep.
Love eventually fell out of the Cavaliers’ rotation in late January, and he had been “telling confidants recently that he was weighing the possibility a buyout,” according to Cleveland.com’s Chris Fedor.
Through 41 games, Love is averaging a career-low 8.5 points and 6.8 rebounds while shooting 38.9 percent from the field and 35.4 percent from the 3-point line.
Kevin Love contract details
Love signed a four-year, $120.4 million deal with the Cavaliers in 2019. It is unclear how much of his 2022-23 salary ($28.9 million) he will give back in order to complete a buyout agreement with the team.
|Love’s salary||$28.9 million||$31.3 million||$31.3 million||$28.9 million||UFA|
Kevin Love landing spots
Charania and Lloyd reported that the Heat are “expected to emerge as a suitor” for Love, as they have “canvassed the market recently for a big man.”
Beyond All-Star center Bam Adebayo, Miami is lacking frontcourt options. Love would receive the minutes that he desires, and the Heat would be able to throw out lineups with more size and shooting.
Los Angeles Lakers
Pretty obvious, right? Love developed strong chemistry with James during their Cleveland years, running pick-and-pop plays and connecting on long outlet passes.
One potential issue here: Los Angeles already has a lot of forwards. James, Anthony Davis, Jarred Vanderbilt and Rui Hachimura would be blocking Love’s path to the court.
Golden State Warriors
As NBC Sports Bay Area’s Monte Poole noted earlier this month, Love’s rebounding, shooting and passing abilities would make him a nice fit in the Warriors’ system.
However, Golden State’s biggest issue at the moment is, as Draymond Green described it, not having a “collective will” on defense. Love isn’t fixing that problem.
Portland Trail Blazers
Could Love find his Carmelo Anthony moment in Portland?
Love has previously said that it would be “special” to play with Damian Lillard on his hometown team. This could be his best opportunity to make that dream happen.