Kevin Love sent shockwaves throughout the NBA on Wednesday, opting out of his contract with the Cleveland Cavaliers and turning the impending free-agency market into a frenzy.
Actually, not really. Love opting out of his contract should have surprised absolutely no one. Had he opted in, he would have made $16.7 million next season; by opting out, he’ll make around $19 million, even if he stays in Cleveland.
Which, ultimately, is what will likely happen.
“I think if I’m him, I’m coming back for one year,” Cleveland’s 92.3 The Fan host Andy Baskin said on CBS Sports Radio’s Ferrall on the Bench. “I don’t see why he would want to take anything long-term with the new TV deal coming up. Why wouldn’t you sign a one-year (deal) with your own option on the back end? That’s his best move. I don’t see any reason why he would want to do anything long term. There’s too much TV money out there. The CBA is coming up. If I’m Kevin Love, the best thing you could possibly do is come back to Cleveland. You get all that money. If he would have opted in, he would have cost himself like $3 million. So there’s no reason for him to opt-in. So unless he wants to go out there and sign a long-term deal with somebody else and maybe miss out on some money after the new TV deal, more power to him. But his best move, I think, is to stay here for at least one more year.”
Love, 26, averaged 16.4 points, 9.7 rebounds and 2.2 assists in 75 games last season. Those numbers were below his career averages, but he also played just 33.8 minutes per game – his fewest since 2009-10 – and went from being the first option in Minnesota to being the second or third option in Cleveland.
Despite his reduced role, Love said on May 31 that he plans on returning to Cleveland next season.
“He’s never said anything different,” Baskin said. “We all sit here and we write these things. It’s weird, though. I’m around it, and I’m questioning it sometimes. But he has never once said, ‘I’m not coming back to Cleveland next year.’ Never once. I defy anyone to go out and try to see where he actually said, ‘I’m not coming back next year.’ He has not said that.”
That’s good for Cleveland. Scott Ferrall, for one, believes the Cavs need Love – and Kyrie Irving – to win a championship. Some people, however, seem to think otherwise. They think think that the Cavs would be fine with Timofey Mozgov, Tristan Thompson and Anderson Varejao. Ferrall isn’t convinced.
After all, a stretch-4 like Love makes life a whole lot easier.
“I don’t know what they would do to replace Kevin Love,” Baskin said. “People want to say, ‘Well, look how far they got (without him). They won two games (against Golden State), they were two games away from winning the Finals and they didn’t have Kevin Love and they didn’t have Kyrie.’ Kyrie played in the first game – let’s not forget that – and they still lost that first game. That’s where I kind of have trouble saying I definitely think the Cavaliers would have won if Kyrie played. I don’t know that you can say that. I do know if they would’ve had Kevin Love and Kyrie Irving, it would have been a much different series.”