On Tuesday afternoon, Brian Windhorst broke the news that the Cleveland Cavaliers reached an extension with Kevin Love on a 4 year, $120 million contract extension.
On paper, this makes sense for Cleveland and feels similar to Oklahoma City extending Russell Westbrook after the departure of Kevin Durant in 2016, in the sense that they extended their “second star” after their superstar left in free agency. It will keep Cleveland relevant in a paltry Eastern Conference and allow some of their younger talent in Collin Sexton and Larry Nance to grow around a great player and hopefully gain some playoff experience in the process. Kevin Love got his ring and now he’s going to make his money. But, there are some problems with this deal.
For starters, Cleveland was in the perfect position to hit the reset button and use high draft picks in hopes of re-stocking their LeBron-centric roster. This probably prevents them from doing so as they should remain firmly in the playoffs in the East. It also doesn’t help Kevin Love’s trade value as much as one would think. While teams might have been weary about trading for Love with 1 year remaining on his current contract, they will be even more tentative about trading for him now that he’s due $30 million per-season in his age 33 and 34 seasons. Not many teams will want to take that risk on unless they’re absolutely sure that they can challenge for a title–and even then, it seems unlikely–since not many teams with $30 million available in cap space or trade bait will probably be competing for a championship (especially in the Golden State era, for however long that it might last).
Overall, this deal is puzzling, but ownership has to sell some sort of viable on-court product, and Love gives them a bit of continuity and roster stability that has been fleeting in the LeBron Era.