Bill Simmons Ponders: NBA Finals Trip The Only Way Kevin Love Stays In Cleveland?


Nobody wants to think about it, but there’s a real chance that Kevin Love could leave the Cleveland Cavaliers after the season.

Love can opt out of his contract* , and it seems as if his future has been in doubt ever since he put on the Wine & Gold, as he’s struggled to fit in with fellow superstars LeBron James and Kyrie Irving.

ESPN basketball guru and BS Report podcast host Bill Simmons talked about Love (40:33) and the Cavaliers with Grantland’s Zach Lowe March 9. The two addressed the change in Love’s game that’s relegated the three-time All-Star into a “stretch four” ever since he was traded for No. 1 overall pick Andrew Wiggins (and Anthony Bennett).

Simmons argues that instead of being a great inside/outside asset, and one of the top 10-12 players in the NBA, Love has become James Jones, waiting  in 3-point territory to hoist up shots.

This has Simmons thinking that Love doesn’t like his role in Cleveland, and that he may move no to a place where he’ll post better numbers in sacrifice of team wins.

"“(Love’s ) got to be thinking…if they get bounced in round two or round three, I don’t see how he comes back. I really don’t, unless there’s some sort of handshake deal where they dabbed each other with chicken blood, and did like a Joe Smith/Glen Taylor thing, which is illegal, Glen Taylor got docked three first rounders, so they can’t…I don’t see how he comes back unless they win the title or make the finals. If they lose before the finals, he doesn’t come back, I think.”"

Simmons never misses an opportunity to shill for his Boston Celtics, and he’s been making references to Love’s struggles in Cleveland via Twitter because he wants to see the UCLA product in Boston next season.

Simmons and Lowe also looked at Love from the Cavs perspective. Love is a max-contract type player…will that lead GM David Griffin to look for a cheaper option who can shoot while stretching the floor?

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Lowe said:

"“You can get that chapter than what kevin love is going to command on his next contract, and so you have a choice. Do I get that cheaper, and do I just pigeon hole the power forward as a shooter who just stands there, or do I invest in my coach, and invest in my player and invest in the collective brain power of the team and say, over time, we have faith we can maximize this player, who is a max kind of player.”"

Simmons and Lowe talked about the Lakers being a destination, but that would mean Love would be going to a bad team. They also brought up Houston, because of Love’s strong relationship with Kevin McHale.

Houston would have to move some things around to sign Love, like trade Dwight Howard–or there’s always the possibility of a sign and trade.

Ultimately, it comes down to what Love wants. It’s harder to get to Houston because of their current cap space issues. Does he want to chase numbers, or does he want to play for a perennial title contender (as long as LeBron James is here).

Next: Are The Cavs Really Better Off Without Andrew Wiggins?