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Kevin Love: ‘I don’t plan on opting out’

Cleveland Cavaliers v Atlanta Hawks

ATLANTA, GA - DECEMBER 30: Kevin Love #0 of the Cleveland Cavaliers grabs a rebound against Paul Millsap #4 of the Atlanta Hawks at Philips Arena on December 30, 2014 in Atlanta, Georgia. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)

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When the Cavaliers agreed to trade for Kevin Love, the report included that Love will opt out in 2015 to re-sign with Cleveland on a five-year contract.

It’d be illegal for Love to have a signed under-the-table deal with the Cavaliers, and it’d be imprudent for him to ink a contract extension. So, whatever he and Cleveland have arranged privately has remained private.

Of course, that has led to plenty of speculation about Love’s future, much to Love’s chagrin. Cavaliers coach David Blatt even fueled it a little by saying Love isn’t a max player (and then talking more about his initial statement without clearing up anything).

Love is taking another swing at putting this issue to rest.

Love, via Chris Haynes of Northeast Ohio Media Group:

“I think that we will figure it out here, so I don’t plan on opting out or any of that,” Love told NEOMG. “I plan on being here. As far as leaving my options open, I mean sure, it’s always there. At the end of the day, it’s always good to have something but no, I plan on being here.”
“I’ve said all along that I plan on being a Cavalier long-term,” Love said without hesitation. “As we continue to evolve, my role will continue to evolve. It’s still a process where I’m figuring it out.”

Love is either being semantic or foolish.

“I don’t plan on opting out” is technically not the same as “I plan not to opt out.” Perhaps, Love just does not have a plan now – months before he actually needs it. This also wouldn’t be Love’s first potential misdirection on the issue.

But if Love truly plans to opt into the final year of his contract, he’s being foolish.

Love has a $16,744,219 player option for next season. His max salary next season projects to be $19,027,800.

It’s quite possible Love wants to stay in Cleveland and wait until the salary cap skyrockets in 2016 to re-sign long-term. But if he thinks being on a contract with one year remaining – his situation should he opt in – is in his best interest, why not opt out and then re-sign on a new one-year contract? That way he’d give himself a $2,283,581 raise. Plus, as long as he’s doing that, he could get a $20,454,885 player option for 2016-17, which would offer protection in case something goes wrong.

Whether or not Love opts in or opts out to re-sign a new higher-paying deal, the Cavaliers will probably have the same ability to spend money on free agents under Collective Bargaining Agreement rules – the taxpayer mid-level exception and minimum contracts. If he opts in, he’d essentially be helping only Dan Gilbert. That $2,283,581 couldn’t go directly to another player.

That’s why I don’t believe Love. He might be loyal to the Cavaliers, but he can stay in Cleveland whether or not he opts out. He might as well opt out, re-sign on a one-year deal (or two years with a player option) and pocket the extra money.