Yesterday's post in this space about the Bulls firing Tom Thibodeau wasn't just about the transaction, but also noting that one of the Wizards' rivals for the 2015-16 made a move. Tracking all Kevin Love rumors falls under the same category.
Similar to the idea of Chicago saying adios to its head coach, the buzz about Love putting Cleveland in his rear view is nothing new. The chatter has simply died down a bit because the focus is on the actual basketball, but also because the power forward isn't on the court. The LeBron James-led Cavaliers cruised through the East and will face the Golden State Warriors in the NBA Finals. The Cavs advanced despite Love's season-ending shoulder injury that occurred in the opening round against Boston.
Anyway, back to the rumors. If Gallup polled the NBA world, good bet the majority sense the three-time All-Star who fell into role player status with the Cavaliers opts out of the final year of his contract for another team. At the very least, most love the idea that Love really, really, really ponders his options. Yahoo! Sports' Adrian Wojnarowski, perhaps the most plugged-in NBA Insider around, spoke on the subject Thursday as a guest on Yahoo! Sports Radio (transcription from Sherdian Sports via Pro Basketball Talk):
“I think he’s going to look around,” Wojnarowski said. “I think he’s going to look closely at Boston. I think he’ll look at LA. I’m sure the Texas teams are going to try and get involved.
“If you remember, he really liked Kevin McHale in Minnesota,” Wojnarowski continued. “Would he fit potentially in Houston? It seems like every summer, they have the ability to go out and create a max slot, and they do this summer again. They know they have the option to do that.
“I think he’ll be in play. He could stay where he is, but there’s no question he’s going to look long and hard at what his options are.”
Worth noting that Wojnarowski apparently didn't mention the Wizards, which is not surprising. Even if Washington were inclined to get involved, other moves must come first, like moving Nene's contract. Whether Love would want to play under Randy Wittman, his former coach in Minnesota, is another story.
While PBT's Kurt Helin makes a valid case about Love staying in Cleveland - largely perception reasons -, I'm not sure such motives apply to this player. LeBron James, yes. Bigger reason I'd guess Love stays is financial: Hang out until the salary cap explodes in 2016 and then sign for mega deals elsewhere while maybe picking up a ring (or number two) along the way.
Regardless, this topic will explode the offseason one way or another once the actual games are done. If Love stays, the Cavs are the clear faves in the East. If he leaves, Cleveland won't have much financial wiggle room with which to replace him assuming it brings the rest of the band back together. If he leaves, then possibly the Lakers, Celtics, Rockets or some other NBA team looks plenty different.