Kevin Love signed a 4 year $120 million extension to remain with the Cleveland Cavaliers. This means he has a total of 5 years $145 million left on his contract. The Cavs decided to not completely rebuild after losing Lebron James, but to keep Kevin Love on the team as younger players like Colin Sexton develop. Consistent stars get contracts like this, but spending this kind of money on a player like Love is a waste and prevents the Cavs from rebuilding or retooling.
Back on the Timberwolves, some considered Kevin Love to be a top power forward in the game, despite him failing to lead the team to the post season. When he was traded to the Cavs, he immediately sank down to a third option. Last year he had to be the second option, and clearly that was way too much for him. It was so bad that everyone got excited when he scored consecutive baskets in game 7 against the Pacers in the 2018 playoffs. He could never lead a team to success, and that is especially true now.
Kevin Love is now 29, and has injury issues. He can shoot, score in the post, and rebound, but it will be harder for him to produce offensively without Lebron. He is also a liability on the defensive end. The point is, he’s not very good now, and he’s definitely not getting better. By investing in him, the Cavs have damaged their rebuild significantly as they limited their financial flexibility significantly for the next 5 years.
Before signing the extension, Love would have been a free agent next summer (2019). There are a lot of high profile free agents in the summer of 2019 who might leave their teams, including Kyrie Irving, Jimmy Butler, Klay Thompson, and Kawhi Leonard. They could have tried making pitches to any of those free agents, and really sell the idea that those players would be the superstar for the team. Obviously Cleveland isn’t a very popular free agent destination, but they could make themselves attractive to some free agents if they started targeting players now.
They could have also used the cap flexibility to take advantage in trades. Throughout the 2019-20 NBA season, a lot of teams could trade the bad contracts that were signed in 2016 along with first round picks. Many of those contracts will be expiring, meaning they aren’t damaging their cap space for the summer of 2020 and beyond, and they get a lot of assets with those picks.
Next year, we will see the Cavs drop off significantly. They will likely miss the playoffs. When a team is at this stage, it is foolish to spend a lot of money on a player who won’t help in either the short term or long term. It would have been much better for the Cavs to let Love walk next summer, and focus on rebuilding.
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