Over the weekend, ESPN reported the Cleveland Cavaliers are willing to listen to trade offers for forward Kevin Love. This doesn't come as a massive shock, considering Love is the oldest member of a rebuilding Cavs team by two years and doesn't fit their timeline. The likelihood of a trade appears to have only increased in the days since; Brian Windhorst said Love was "clearly unhappy" with the Cavs' current situation on his podcast released Monday, and in tandem with the report from Friday, it seems all but inevitable at this point.
Love isn't the superstar he once was with the Timberwolves, but given his rebounding and ability to shoot from deep (10.5 rebounds per game, 37.5 percent from three on 5.8 attempts per game), there's no doubt he'd be helpful on another team. The biggest question isn't about his play, but who would take his contract. He's on the first year of a four-year, $120 million extension that pays him $28 million this year. These teams seem like likely destinations with the contract and individual needs in mind.
Miami has been excellent to start the year, rolling into Monday's slate of games at 17-6 and firmly entrenched in the battle for one of the top four seeds in the Eastern Conference. But given how much they've relied on production from young players such as Tyler Herro and Duncan Robinson, it's fair to wonder if they can keep up their torrid pace as the season grows long. Love would give the Heat an experienced second scoring option who fits well with Bam Adebayo in the front court. A swap of Kelly Olynyk and James Johnson for Love would work salary-wise, and Erik Spoelstra would know how to most effectively utilize him.
If Jimmy Butler, the new face of the franchise in South Beach, is on board with the move, then it's a deal they'd make quickly. Things are going well for now, but like Love, Butler is in his 30s and looking to win immediately. If the Cavs would be willing to trade a four-year commitment to Love for a pair of two-year commitments in Johnson and Olynyk, the deal makes sense for both sides.
Trae Young has been excellent, but the Hawks have been very bad this year, and have lost 11 out of their last 13. Matters weren't helped by John Collins' 25-game suspension, and he's slated to return on December 23. But Atlanta wants to be competitive, and may be active on the trade market after Shams Charnia reported on Monday that a high-level executive was seen telling Young help was on the way.
Love would fit what they're looking for, to an extent; they're 26th in the league in rebounds per game, and don't have a reliable shooting presence from deep other than Young. He wouldn't help with their rather substantial defensive issues, but if he buys into the program, he'd be a valuable veteran presence for a team lacking any semblance of that other than Vince Carter. What makes this a realistic scenario is that the Hawks can trade Chandler Parsons' expiring contract for Love straight-up, and after extending Collins over the offseason, aren't on the hook to give anyone big money until 2021.
Does it make sense for a 9-16 team to trade for a 31-year-old power forward in the first year of a big extension? No it does not. But it also didn't make any sense to give Terry Rozier a three-year, $57 million deal over the offseason, and they did it anyway. Even if it's in the best interest of the team to be bad this season and attempt to land a blue-chip prospect, Michael Jordan has made it clear that he's more interested in putting a competitive product on the floor right now than betting on the lottery to provide a potential star.
Love would certainly accomplish that, and Charlotte could theoretically get him for very little; if Cleveland is more interested in just getting rid of an unhappy Love, a straight-up trade for Nic Batum's expiring contract would work (according to the NBA trade machine). Love would provide a good pick-and-pop partner for Rozier and, at the very least, help alleviate their rebounding issues.