Dribbles: Love, other key pieces seem like shoe-ins for Cavs return
Random dribbles on Kevin Love/contracts as we move closer to the NBA Finals between the Cleveland Cavaliers and Golden State Warriors:
1. Perhaps the least-discussed news of the past week is Cavs forward Kevin Love, and how he said he plans to return. That’s something the rumormongers (and more than a few members of the national media) did not want to hear. That’s not something they want to discuss. They hate how Love said it, and how we should take him at his word.
2. Love, of course, is out for the postseason following shoulder surgery. It’s a real shame, because he may have been playing his basketball of the year in the first-round vs. Boston. Imagine that — a guy who’s making his first appearance in the playoffs performing his best when it means the most. Not many people wrote about that, either.
3. It’s true that the Cavs made it to the Finals without Love. But they haven’t doubted for a moment that they want him back. And quite frankly, there’s never really been a doubt about HOW Love will return.
4. Love has a player option on his contract. That means he can pick up the option in July, play out next season, then enter free agency. I doubt that’s what he will do. Instead, I expect Love to opt out and I expect the Cavs to offer him a maximum contract of five years and $110 million. Then I expect Love to sign it.
5. Now, this is big business and I don’t mean to talk about it frivolously. But I just can’t see Love leaving money on the table, especially when the idea is leaving money on the table to go play for a non-Finals team. I don’t care if the team is located in Heaven, USA. You’re playing for a winner (the Cavs), and that winner (again, the Cavs) can pay you considerably more than anyone else. So why would Love leave? To live in a city where he can get a better tan? Come on, man. Give me a break.
6. Everyone got all worked up over Kyrie Irving at the end of last season, wondered loudly if he would sign the max extension, with his rookie contract expiring. It was a topic of great debate and resulted in some fairly strong predictions from the media. A lot of folks said no way would Irving re-up, at least not for long, with the Cavs. They were indeed a bad team in Irving’s first three seasons. And most people doubted LeBron James would return to Cleveland. So there were probably few reasons to believe Irving wanted to stay much longer.
7. Then it took Irving all of about five minutes to sign the extension. My first thought was, "All the fuss for THAT?" Of course, everyone who boldly predicted Kyrie wanted to leave quickly moved on to the next topic. The same thing is likely to happen with the Love situation — and with some experts, it already has. They’ve already been quieted.
8. Here is what I think will happen with the Cavs this offseason: Everyone important will re-sign and return. That includes Tristan Thompson, a restricted free agent. I have no idea of the actual plans — but I wouldn’t be surprised if the Cavs let Thompson test the market, sign with another team, then match the offer. Again, I could be way off, but that is how restricted free agency so often works.
9. With that in mind, I envision a frontline of Love, Thompson, Timofey Mozgov and Anderson Varejao next season. Oh, there’s also that LeBron guy. Considering the Cavs have made it to the Finals without two of those players (Love and Varejao), I’d say that’s a pretty formidable returning frontcourt.
10. And yes, the Cavs can keep every last one of them. I’m not going to bore you with subjects like penalties, taxes, mid-level exceptions and salary caps. Just know this: The NBA is set up so teams can always keep their own players. In fact, teams always have the financial advantage in that scenario, and typically, a pretty large one.
11. I’m sure there will be some salary capologist who will tweet a "Yeah, but" my way. Everything can be debated in this world of social media and constant contact with your audience. I’m good with that — bring it on. The bottom line is it will take some strong convincing for me to believe players want to leave this situation, or that the Cavs can’t afford to keep their own players. Everything is a theory or an unnamed source these days. But sorry, none of that holds a candle to Love saying he plans to stay.
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