The post-LeBron era in Cleveland has officially taken shape.
This morning we received word from Woj that Cavs power forward Kevin Love has inked a FAT, 4-year, $120 million extension from the Cleveland Cavaliers.
My initial reaction to this news was to text my friends “what in the hell is Koby Altman (Cavaliers General Manager) doing?”. The inner GM inside of me was triggered at seeing a deal like this. Why would you give a soon-to-be 30 year-old big man that can’t slide his feet or protect the rim a long-term deal like that? Everyone knows you have to go all-in a la Houston Rockets to compete with the Warriors or push all your chips in on tanking. With the NBA shifting to position-less basketball, this initially sounded like an extremely asinine move from the Cavs front office.
But let’s take a closer look into what exactly the Cavaliers may be thinking. After all, I’m a blogger not a general manager.
Kevin Love is a 5x All-Star. And thanks to the “Leastern” Conference, he’ll be a 6x All-Star next season. He’s averaged 26+ points per game two times in his career while taking 18.9 shots an outing. During the last 4 seasons in Cleveland, Love has taken just 13.1 per game. LeBron’s departure should boost Love’s usage substantially for the next couple of years. There is no denying K-Love is now the Cavs number one option.
With the NBA analytics era well underway, geeks around the league will take note of the numbers Love is producing. Career averages of 18.3 PPG, 11.3 RPG, and 37% from beyond the arc still make Love an attractive commodity. But for $145 million over the next 5 years? SHEESH… only time will tell.
What the Cavs need to do is FEED this man the rock. If I’m Ty Lue, I’m telling Kevin Love to lead the league in scoring. Shoot the rock more than Russell Westbrook for all I care. And make sure they are 3-pointers. The best case scenario for the Cavs is to maximize Love’s offensive ability for the rest of the league to take notice. Should they do that, they could eventually liquidate Love’s contract for a slew of draft picks. That is what they should be doing.
Over the past eight years, Cleveland has been incredibly fortunate to land three number one overall picks (Kyrie Irving, Anthony Bennett, and Andrew Wiggins) AND to welcome LeBron James back for a second stint. They simply aren’t an attractive enough market to land marquee free agents. Their path back to contention is through the draft, and this extension does not reinforce that unfortunate truth.
Realistically, Cleveland has absolutely zero shot at contending over the next 3-4 years. Owner Dan Gilbert likely wanted to make this deal to sell tickets and to protect the Cavs from sucking during life after LeBron. Sorry Ohio…
I predict three possible outcomes with this contract: (A) Kevin Love returns to his Minnesotan form and is dished out for a load of picks, (B) Kevin Love neither exceeds or underperforms his expectations and leaves after his contract expires, (C) Koby Altman gets fired, Kevin Love gets bought out, and the Cavs suck longer than they needed to. I’m rooting for option A.
All NBA fans should too.
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