By: Sam Gagliardi
On Monday, Kevin Love was a Cleveland Cavalier. Today, Kevin Love is the Cleveland Cavaliers. After signing a 4 year contract extension, which kicks in after this coming year, Love will make a total of 145 million guaranteed and don a Cavaliers uniform until age 34, well maybe. First, let's focus on the now, and why the Cavs and Love agreed to this new contract.
For Love, it is fairly straightforward. Remember back in 2015, Love could have waited another year and cashed in on the summer of 2016 spending spree that saw Timofey Mozgov rake in 96 million freaking dolllars. But Love did not take that risk, he signed a 4-year extension. Circumstances are obviously quite different this time around, but for Love it still behooves him personally and professionally. After signing that extension in 2015, Love incurred injuries in each of the next four seasons. Locking down a long-term contract now is a wise, safe move. Separately, back in 2015 Love desperately wanted to be apart of Championship team, which he and the Cavs finally became in 2016. This time, Love seems intent on becoming the veteran, and champion-tested face of a franchise that will help lead a new, young team back to the playoffs. Kind of in the mold of LeBron when he came back to the Cavs in 2014, Love seems to now be taking on that role.
For the Cavs, this was a no-brainer. Yes, Love may have already passed his prime and has a history of injuries, however statistically speaking only 4 players last season — LeBron, Kevin Durant, James Harden and Kevin Love — had a true shooting percentage better than 60%. Shooting 41% from three last year and again averaging more than 10 rebounds a game, Love is still an elite defensive rebounder and sharpshooter from the 4-spot — a very valuable commodity in today's NBA. Financially for the Cavs, Love actually structured his contract to take less than the max during the final two years of the deal, with the last year actually decreasing in value. Because of this structure, if Love has a solid one of two good years upfront, even if he has a relative decline afterwards, the contract should be flexible enough to become a decent trade piece during the final 2-3 years of the deal. Even if Love is traded down the line, the Cavs extended Love for one reason and one reason only: because it’s Cleveland.
It may be difficult for Cavs fans, myself included, to no longer consider themselves the center of the basketball universe after LeBron’s departure, but not many all-stars have or will want to play in Cleveland in the foreseeable future. That Love, a 5-time All Star, willingly wanted to stay and commit long-term to Cleveland means something. If it leads to wins in the coming seasons is still to be determined, but yesterday was a sure-fire win for Kevin Love and the Cavaliers.
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