Kevin Love, Cavs to reach buyout agreement, but what a run it was

Kevin Love, Cleveland Cavaliers. (Photo by Chris Nicoll-USA TODAY Sports)
Kevin Love, Cleveland Cavaliers. (Photo by Chris Nicoll-USA TODAY Sports) /

Kevin Love and J.B. Bickerstaff recently had a difficult conversation which led to the two agreeing that Love would be out of the Cleveland Cavaliers’ rotation in favor of Dean Wade. That wasn’t easy, surely, but it was the right call.

Love seemingly could’ve been a possible expiring trade candidate near the NBA Trade Deadline, though he wasn’t ultimately moved.

Now Love/his representation and Cleveland didn’t reportedly have any buyout talks back immediately following last week’s deadline, as an alternative option. It did appear as if Love could still be a player that at some point this season could return as a rotational piece for the Cavaliers, with his shooting capabilities when healthy.

Nonetheless, that’s not going to occur. Per a report from Shams Charania and Jason Lloyd of The Athletic (subscription required) early Thursday, Love/his representation and the Cavaliers are finalizing a buyout agreement.

Love had been out of the rotation for Cleveland, and has been dealing with a thumb injury for some time. He had been back for a number of games following him missing time with that ailment, but it still had been affecting his shot, and Love was not able to shoot nearly how he’s capable as a result.

Love still was able to help Cleveland to some degree with his defensive rebounding abilities, shooting reputation to some degree and he’s a quality passer. But with Wade’s return from an extended absence and Wade being one of Cleveland’s best defenders and a viable off-ball player, Love was an odd man out.

According to Charania and Lloyd’s report, the Miami Heat are said to be an interested suitor should the buyout become final. Miami is currently seventh in the Eastern Conference, and is a club that figures to be in the playoff picture as a veteran group. Should the move go final for Cleveland, the Cavs will then have one roster spot open, and the two sides will have to decide how much of Love’s $28.9 million compensation for this season he’ll give back, in that scenario.

Love hasn’t had the same success with the Cavs as he did last season, but the two had a great run.

Love’s production hasn’t been nearly what it was last season, when he was the runner-up for the NBA Sixth Man of the Year, as he’s had only 8.5 points per outing this year. His three-point shooting took a nosedive with him having dealt with the aforementioned nagging thumb injury. It was unfortunate for Love, given that for much of the time prior to that, he did still have a solid season going from beyond the arc.

It’s difficult to forecast if Love can get it going from three at this point. On the season, his deep shooting clip is now 35.4 percent. Maybe he can rebound in the seasons’ closing stretch upon getting healthier with Miami, if he were to go there.

However, the latest development involving Love and the Cavaliers doesn’t diminish what he provided for the team over the years, particularly in the LeBron James Return years, when the team went to four straight NBA Finals, and won in 2016. Love was the last remaining member of that Cavaliers title team prior to this buyout news, to that point.

Love ranks second in Cavaliers history in three-pointers made, is sixth in total rebounds, and is ninth in total points. He has been a crucial floor spacer, screener and defensive rebounder over the years, and his passing feel was always meaningful.

Granted, there were of course some bumps in the road involving Love and the Cavaliers in recent prior seasons, particularly during the brief John Beilein stint as Cleveland’s head coach. Love had his share of injury woes over the course of his tenure with the Cavaliers, too, who acquired him via trade from the Minnesota Timberwolves prior to the 2014-15 season. He was a constant player mentioned in trade rumors as well, even back when James was still with the team.

All of that being said, Love was an integral piece for the Cavs, and his sacrifice for his personal game offensively to transform his game should never be discounted, as that aided the likes of LeBron, Kyrie Irving and others. And Love’s veteran leadership in recent seasons has assuredly helped Darius Garland, Evan Mobley and this new iteration of Cavaliers as they look to regain their place as contenders in the East.

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It was a great run for Love with the Cavs, and down the road, I would be the least bit shocked to see his No. 0 in the rafters at Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse.