The Cleveland Cavaliers followed up their acquisition of Danny Green on the buyout market by releasing one of their own, Kevin Love. Love has been with the Cavaliers since 2014, and was most notably a part of the 2016 NBA championship team. The UCLA product had a bit of a rollercoaster tenure with the Cavaliers. Love has gone from a crucial third option on a championship team to a max-contract leftover on a tanking squad to valuable sixth man and veteran and now to surplus buyout player.
Love is 34, and his defense has taken a bit of a nosedive this season. What kept him on the court was his excellent shooting, but recently Love hasn’t been able to do that well either. There is speculation that a thumb injury he sustained in November has not fully healed, and is still bothering him significantly. Love was shooting 40% from three on essentially six attempts per game before the thumb injury. Love has been shooting 30% since that point.
The move itself is a bit odd. The Cavaliers don’t save any money on his huge contract that would have come off the books next year anyways and has been a beloved figure in the city and locker room. Love is also just one season removed from coming second in Sixth Man of the Year voting.
Who Was Driving This?
Love did slide way down the depth chart recently because his shooting was poor, but if it really is his thumb bothering him, once healthy he should have reintegrated well. The Cavaliers sport two of the best paint defenders in the league so the team has the defenders to hide him if he became a liability. Green can do what Love did, which is provide spacing and veteran leadership, but Love is already familiar with the team.
The Cavaliers said they weren’t considering buying him out just a few days ago, and earlier in the season expressed a lot of interest in re-signing him in the offseason, it’s unlikely this move came from the front office.
Love may have thought that he’ll be able to work his way back in the rotation and wants to go to a team where his minutes are more guaranteed. The Miami Heat are currently the front-runner to gain his services according to most sources, who desperately need a stretch-four.
Love will always be appreciated in Cleveland for his role on their lone championship team and really is the last vestige of that era. Cedi Osman, acquired in 2017, is now the longest tenured Cavalier.
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