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Report: If Kevin Love leaves Cavaliers, Lakers are team to beat in free agency

Kevin Love, Tarik Black

Cleveland Cavaliers’ Kevin Love, center, tries to shoot against Los Angeles Lakers’ Tarik Black (28) in the first quarter of an NBA basketball game, Sunday, Feb. 8, 2015, in Cleveland. (AP Photo/Mark Duncan)


Kevin Love’s fit with the Cavaliers has been far from perfect.

Terrible? No. But on and off the court, there have been several examples of a player and team uncomfortable with each other.

Love has a player option for next season he should decline, whether or not he wants to stay in Cleveland. If he opts out, that would give other teams an opportunity to pitch him.

The Lakers have been rumored as a contender for months, and the Celtics are reportedly interested.

Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo Sports:

For as much as Kevin Love has publicly resisted the discussion of free agency this season, it has been on his mind. He has never been completely comfortable in Cleveland, with his role, nor his connection to those around him. Throughout the year, league sources say, one destination grew in possibility as his exit strategy: The Boston Celtics.

Boston has been no sure thing to lure Love, but it had a better shot than most had believed. If Love left the Cavaliers, the Celtics had closed the gap on the Los Angeles Lakers, league sources told Yahoo Sports.

Obviously, Love getting injured against the Celtics throws a dent in Boston’s hopes of luring Love – because Love accused Kelly Olynyk of hurting him on purpose. Olynyk denied that and said he’s trying to contact Love, and maybe Love comes to believe Olynyk once tempers cool.

But the incident also might help the Cavaliers keep Love. They definitely had his back yesterday, and that’s on the heels of LeBron James showing a deeper understanding of Love’s challenges in Cleveland. This could strengthen Love’s bond with his current team.

On the other hand, if Love misses significant time, and the Cavaliers get bounced from the playoffs sooner than expect, this could be a lost opportunity for Love to strengthen a deeper connection with the Cavaliers. Ditto if he misses the rest of the playoffs, no matter how far Cleveland goes.

I expect the Celtics, who pursued Love last summer after his trip to Boston, to remain interested. I wouldn’t completely rule them out, either – but Sunday hurts their chances.

For the Cavaliers, it could go either way depending what happens next. I don’t think Love has made up his mind about his future, and he shouldn’t yet.

The Lakers, meanwhile, wait – one Love suitor downgraded and his current team still trying to prove its value to him.