It’s Not About Love …. But Love Lost (update)

This is the single most critical decision for the Cavs front office since LeBron left.
This is the single most critical decision for the Cavs front office since LeBron left.

As time has progressed, it is becoming increasingly obvious that the Cavalier management has made a commitment to get Kevin Love. That commitment, based on the timing (and the comments of the TWolves owner), almost certainly includes AT THE LEAST Andrew Wiggins, Anthony Bennett, a future first round pick, and a few nonguaranteed contracts to make the money work. Since no one really knows the fine print in this proposed deal, that is what most of us assume is the basic outline. If the Timberwolves were not absolutely ecstatic about this deal, they would not be out there commenting on “when” the trade will occur because they know that signals Wiggins is included. And they should be ecstatic! They are getting the number one pick of arguably the best draft in about 7 years and the number one pick of the previous draft. Plus one or more future number 1 picks. All of this for a player who, although awesome, would only play there for this year and has asked to be traded instead of playing for them. That is a huge haul and the TWolves know it. Almost historically unprecedented.

It has also become increasingly obvious that LeBron James misspoke in his letter to all of us. He has no intention to wait for a championship team and will be given one in a few weeks. It won’t be any harder than the process he went through in Miami. But, as we know from that experience, it didn’t happen in the first year. And that is the divergence from Miami ! LeBron knew in Miami that he was guaranteed 4 years with the “big three”. That is not the case here.

Finally, it is becoming increasingly obvious that Kevin Love will not be giving the Cavaliers any commitment to stay and, in fact, will probably not even give a verbal commitment that it is his “intention” to stay. This part is the hardest to be sure of, but I believe that the Cavaliers are doing this without ANY commitment from Love beyond this coming year. That is NOT what the national media or “Cavs twitter” seems to believe. When they analyze this trade, they always use the argument that because Wiggins will not progress to Love’s status over the next 4 years, this is a no brainer for Cleveland. It might not be so obvious and, since this trade is almost certainly going to happen, let me explain.

Will he be a "Love Lost" after 1 year?
Will he be a “Love Lost” after 1 year?

Kevin Love has worked hard for his free agency. He has suffered through pathetic seasons with a pathetic organization that is about to reverse their trend of stupidity. He wants out. He has demanded a trade. He has established his position. He essentially has said, “Get me out of here and then I will go where I want to go after that.” I seriously doubt that Cleveland, Ohio and even LeBron James will be able to dampen his desire to do what HE wants to do. Did we forget that LeBron left a Championship organization that had gone to the NBA finals 4 years in a row??!! How can we arrogantly think Cleveland will be his “first choice” when so many teams, including the Lakers, will have a ton of cap space to pay him a max contract?

Now the collective bargaining agreement does give the Cavs a slight edge. Because he was traded after three years with the same team, the acquiring team (Cavs) inherit his full “Bird Rights”. Cleveland could sign him to a three year extension right away if he picks up his player option for the 15-16 season. That would be great for Cleveland but would extend him years beyond the expected revenue boost in 2016. So that possibility is unlikely. The best the Cavs might be able to hope for is Love agreeing to pick up his player option for 2015-16 season, which will take him to the year where the large boost is expected. Once he becomes a free agent or agrees to sign with Cleveland, either in summer of 2015 or 16, Cleveland can sign him for 5 years with a 7.5% raise per year. As a free agent, other teams can sign him for 4 years and with a 4.5% raise per year. So, if Love starts at 17.695 million per year, he would get a total contract of 102.781 million in Cleveland. He would get a total contract of 75.702 million with the LA Lakers (or fill in here another team). That sounds like a huge advantage for the Cavs. But here is the trick of all this. The Cleveland offer is for 5 years. The other offer is for 4 years. If you resign with your desired team (GS, Lakers etc.), your next year salary would be at a MINIMUM 21.706 million. The difference over the same number of years is 5.373 million. And that is likely way more than it really would be because a new free agent contract in 6 years will likely start much higher than 21.706. So the difference might be a few million at best over 5 years. Is that difference enough to make you go away from your preferred location for 5 years? I would say no.

Ironically, LeBron James and Kevin Love will be the number 1 and number 2 free agent targets in the summer of 2015. Will we get them both with so many teams bidding for them? I am not so sure. LeBron looks likely because of his letter and seeming commitment to build in Cleveland. Love looks possible but much less likely. And we will be sweating our butts off for weeks and crashing twitter. Look forward to it because it is coming. And enjoy the rumors that this was all an NBA plot to get Anthony, James and Love in New York together.

So I don’t see this as Wiggins vs Love at all. I see us trading years of control of Wiggins and Bennett for a 1 year test drive of Love. Plus, even if he stays, the Cavs will be constantly dodging the “super” luxury tax and their ability to make future moves will be greatly reduced. Better hope we enjoy the ride. Because winning an NBA Championship with a 1 year window is tough sledding. This is why I feel that Cleveland must get a commitment out of Love, at least picking up his player option for 15-16 or verbally and publically committing to extending his contract with Cleveland after this year. I feel that outcome is increasingly unlikely.

Hope Love resigns with Cleveland. Hope LeBron resigns with Cleveland. I love the Cavs. I don’t want to suffer a “Love Lost.” If that happens, with or without LeBron James, the Cavs will have a huge mountain to climb going forward instead of a nearly sure path to an NBA title with the current team. If it doesn’t happen (meaning Love stays), then it is (DUH) the no brainer everyone is talking about no matter how successful Wiggins becomes.

2 thoughts on “It’s Not About Love …. But Love Lost (update)”

  1. I hope the concerns expressed here are wrong. However the more you read about Love the more it seems he is determined to be a free agent in 2015. How can any team afford to trade 3 number one picks for a one year rental?

    1. I certainly agree. My biggest puzzle about all of this is that the media and most fans don’t really address this issue and act like it doesn’t exist because he will “of course” resign. Disturbing.

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