BY: Jason M. Sanin
It was an interesting season for Kevin Love in the 2014-2015 campaign. He started the year as an ineffective starter, was relegated to the bench for key parts of certain games, and was injured before he could make a real impact in the playoffs. Even with all of that, the Cleveland Cavaliers made it to the NBA Finals, prompting many to ask exactly what Love’s value to the team is. We will soon find out the answer to that question, as Love has opted out of his current contract with Cleveland, with his decisions having an impact on what basketball betting experts think of them going forward
For Kevin Love, this decision could come down to money. By opting out of his contract, he could be signed by Cleveland for more money than any other team can offer him by rule. So it is entirely possible that Love’s opting out is just a formality for him to cash in and take advantage of the NBA’s increasing revenue to get paid what he feels that he is worth.
With that said, Cleveland would be foolish to offer him a massive, long term contract after his performance last season, where it was unclear at times just what Love’s role was with the team. Given Love’s history of injuries, and how thin Cleveland’s bench looked while being torn apart by the Golden State Warriors in the NBA Finals, it would be smarter for them to spend intelligently on Love and fill their bench with reliable role players to surround LeBron James.
Does Prestige Matter More?
The most interesting part of Kevin Love’s first (and maybe final) season in Cleveland was just how unneeded he seemed at times. For a player who made over $20 million per season to not even be needed in the fourth quarter of some games was a huge shock, and sent a message that Love needed to be a better defensive presence if he wanted a truly defined place on the Cavaliers when games were at their final stages.
As a result, it’s possible that we could see Love bolt for a team that will look to him as their main scorer and rebounder, similar to how we saw him used as the lone star on the Minnesota Timberwolves before he was traded to Cleveland for number one overall picks Andrew Wiggins and Anthony Bennett, a move that many tipsters saw as just cause to make Cleveland favorites to win the 2015 title.
Two such destinations for Love to be treated that way again would be the Los Angeles Lakers and Portland Trailblazers. Los Angeles is a young team, with Kobe Bryant as its only real star, but Bryant is now often injured and not as effective as he was years ago, meaning that Love would be relied upon heavily to perform. Portland, meanwhile, just lost all-star LaMarcus Aldridge, who plays a similar role to Love, making Love a logical replacement.
Wherever he ends up, Kevin Love will want to have a better year than he did last season in Cleveland. Whether or not he can make that happen and reclaim the form that made him a star in Minnesota remains to be seen.