Free-agent forward Kevin Love announced he will be re-signing with the Cleveland Cavaliers. In a first-person essay for The Players Tribune, Love said he has "unfinished business" that needs to be solved.
Love will sign a five-year maximum contract that is expected to be worth $110 million, according to ESPN's Brian Windhorst. The Cavaliers quickly agreed to a long-term extension with Tristan Thompson as well that could total $80 million.
"Yeah, of course I've heard the free agency rumors. But at the end of the day, and after meeting with my teammates (it turns out pools are great meeting places) and with the front office, it was clear Cleveland was the place for me," Love wrote in his announcement. "We're all on the same page and we're all in. We have unfinished business and now it's time to get back to work."
(The pool quip refers to a fan snapping a picture of Love and LeBron James meeting by the pool in Las Vegas).
Love arrived in Cleveland to much fanfare last year, but never quite found his groove as the third option behind LeBron James and Kyrie Irving. The playoffs could have given Love a chance to step up on the big stage, but a shoulder injury sidelined him in the first round. It was far from the ideal debut in Cleveland.
None of that stopped Love from insisting he wouldn't leave the Cavaliers, however, even as rumors swirled that he might prefer a bigger role elsewhere. On May 31, Love said he expected to play for the Cavaliers on opening day next season, and a week later, he doubled down when asked again about his plans. The message from Love was clear even as the outside world speculated on his situation.
Expectations were high for Love entering his first year in Cleveland after the monster numbers he put up in Minnesota. The 26-year-old couldn't sustain the 26-point, 12-rebound production in a smaller role with the Cavaliers, but still showed he could be effective as a shooter and rebounder.
Love remains one of game's best at attacking the boards, and even in a down year, averaged nearly 10 rebounds per game. He also sustained his above-average three-point shooting, hitting 37 percent of his five attempts per game. After spending so much time as the cornerstone with the Timberwolves, Love had to adjust to a lesser role.
While Love struggled to fit in at times in Cleveland, the Cavaliers were a juggernaut in the second half of the season and cruised in the first round before he suffered the shoulder injury. With Love out and Kyrie Irving hurting as well, Cleveland changed its identity on the fly, but the lack of offense without those two ultimately doomed them in the NBA Finals against the Golden State Warriors. Love's defense may leave a lot to be desired, but the Cavaliers needed his spacing and skill offensively, and that'll come in handy next season and years to come.
Love should feel more comfortable in his second season in Cleveland, and head coach David Blatt will surely try to find more creative ways to get his star power forward involved offensively. Blatt will also be tasked with figuring out how to divvy up the minutes in a loaded frontcourt, which is a nice luxury to have, but could prove problematic if not managed correctly.
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