Kevin Love opted out of his contract with the Cleveland Cavaliers on Wednesday morning, setting off rampant speculation around the league over whether the 26-year-old power forward will change teams this summer. Love's list of suitors reportedly includes the Celtics, Lakers, Suns and potentially the Trail Blazers, but Cleveland still holds the option of offering the biggest contract.
The Cavs can extend a five-year, $100 million contract to Love if they chose to, but it would likely result in a massive luxury bill for owner Dan Gilbert. What's even more interesting is that, according to Cavs beat writer Chris Haynes, LeBron James doesn't plan on recruiting Love back to the Cavs.
LeBron James won't be re-recruiting Kevin Love, I'm told. He believes Love understands he can be a part of something special. It's his call.— Chris Haynes (@ChrisBHaynes) June 24, 2015
Of course, that isn't to imply LeBron wouldn't welcome Love back. Still, the relationship between Love and James showed points of contention throughout the season. Read into LeBron's refusal to recruit Love as you want.
Why it might matter
Does this ring a bell?
Stop trying to find a way to FIT-OUT and just FIT-IN. Be apart of something special! Just my thoughts— LeBron James (@KingJames) February 8, 2015
James tweeted this after the Cavaliers had won 13 of their last 14 games. After he was pressed on the subject, James acknowledged that it had been a thinly veiled criticism of Love.
The insinuation from James was that Love wasn't bonding with the rest of the team. Love said he was confused by James' accusation, but the next few weeks would add fuel to the fire.
There was that team photo LeBron posted on Instagram that didn't include Kevin Love. There was also Love saying he thought his former UCLA teammate Russell Westbrook was the MVP of the league, and not James. Love admitted he and James weren't best friends. There were reports that James was "frustrated" by his relationship with Love.
If you subscribe to the old adage that where there's smoke, there's usually fire, perhaps Kevin Love and LeBron James really don't have much of a personal relationship left. Would that be enough to push him out of Cleveland?
Why it might not matter
At the end of the day, free agency usually comes down to two things: money and winning. With the Cavs, Love would be going back to a team that came within two victories of the 2015 championship. He would also be taking the most guaranteed money available to him.
The Celtics are going after Love hard, but would he really leave James and Kyrie Irving to join a plan based around Robin Lopez and 37-year-old Paul Pierce? The Lakers are interested too, but would Love even be able to make the playoffs with that team in the brutal Western Conference?
If it's about money and winning, Cleveland makes the most sense. More often than not, that's the logic NBA players use when making a decision as big as this one.
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