Rumors surfaced throughout the season that Cleveland Cavaliers forward Kevin Love would opt out of his contract and look around free agency. The coveted power forward insisted throughout the playoffs he would stay with the team and in turn, LeBron James.
At least for now, Love is set to become a free agent on July 1, according to ESPN's Marc Stein.
ESPN sources say Cavs forward Kevin Love has opted out of the final year of his contract and will be a free agent July 1
— Marc Stein (@ESPNSteinLine) June 24, 2015
The not so terribly surprising report means Love would pass up his $16.7 million salary for the 2015-16 season. On some level, this isn't really the issue. The talented big man and - at least when he was with the Timberwolves - one of the NBA's top 10-15 players wants a lucrative long-term deal. He'll get one without question.
The question is from which team. The Los Angeles Lakers, Boston Celtics, Dallas Mavericks and others are in position for a splashy move. As for the Washington Wizards, they are in the market for a stretch-4 and Love, who played for coach Randy Wittman in Minnesota, is one of the best options. At this point there isn't salary cap space for a straight free agent signing and any seismic move would hamper efforts to land Kevin Durant in 2016.
Cleveland made a massive move last year when it dealt No. 1 overall pick Andrew Wiggins plus other assets to Minnesota for Love, who never really found his way with the Cavaliers. His stats across the board - 16.7 points, 9.7 rebounds, 43.4 field goal percentage - were all down from his previous season. Coach David Blatt often sat Love during crunch time. Perhaps that changes in the postseason, but Love suffered season-ending shoulder injury before we could find out.
Sometime at or after July 1 we'll find out whether Love really plans on looking hard at his free agency options. Let the fun begin.