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Rumored ‘optimism’ that Cavaliers can pull off Kevin Love trade at deadline

Cleveland Cavaliers v Boston Celtics

BOSTON, MA - DECEMBER 27: Kevin Love #0 of the Cleveland Cavaliers during the game against the Boston Celtics in the second half at TD Garden on December 27, 2019 in Boston, Massachusetts. 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 Kathryn Riley/Getty Images)

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It’s not the on-the-court production this season that has taken the air out of the Kevin Love trade market. He’s averaging 16.5 points and 10.6 rebounds a game, shooting 37.5 percent from three, and played quality minutes for the Cavaliers. He could help a lot of teams.

Rather, it’s the three-plus years remaining on his four-year, $120 million contract that suffocates trade talks. That’s a lot of money and years for an aging former All-Star player who is productive but also has a lengthy injury history. Some teams have told the Cavaliers they would want a sweetener — meaning Cleveland would need to add a future first-round pick — to take on that Love contract.

The New York Times’ Marc Stein injected a little optimism into the conversation on New Year’s Eve.

Love wants to be traded to a contender, ideally Portland (no, Portland is not a contender, even with Love, but these are the reports out there).

It’s tough to see a Love trade coming together at the deadline with that contract, but it only takes one — just one GM/POBO who sees Love as the player that fits a need and pushes his team over the top. Maybe someone out there is talking themselves (and their owner) into Love and getting serious about making this move. I’ll believe it when I see it.