Fewer players have seen their stock sink as much a Cavs big man Kevin Love.
He spent most of the season injured–again–and then was thrown under the bus by USA basketball for not being in shape for the Olympics.
The Cavs are saddled with his contract, which has two years remaining, amount to about $60 million. Cleveland can’t move him, because he’s untradeable. The only option is to buy him out–and that’s a lot of money for someone to simply go away.
Fortunately, the Cavs have solved their front court issues with resigning of Jarrett Allen, and the drafting of Evan Mobley with the No. 3 pick.
With Larry Nance Jr. also in the mix, Love’s role on the 2021-2022 Cavs will be that of a reserve. Nope, you didn’t miss anything. It’s not optimal to pay a reserve $30 million. With no other options, and two ascending players in the mix, Love’s going to need a place to play.
Could he get grumpy? It’s certainly a possibility as we’ve seen Love grow frustrated with his teammates as the franchise he helped win a title toils in losing. However, he may not have a choice, especially after the bad look of what transpired with Team USA.
If Love accepts reserve role, then he can come off the bench and afford Cleveland the ability to stretch the floor, much like he did as a starter. With his former Minnesota teammate Ricky Rubio now on staff, that could make for an interesting second team.
Plus, perhaps a reserve role helps keep Love healthy because it’s pretty obvious he’s not making it through an 82-game campaign as a starting power forward. If he can play 20 minutes per night, perhaps he stays fresher and re-establishes himself as a shooter.
Perhaps, then, and only then, with some of his value as a player restored, the Cavs will be able to move on. I write that knowing full well that the organization still won’t be able to get anything for him and that they’ll probably have to take on a bad contract in any trade, but at long last, they’d be able to move past Love.
Who knows? Maybe it’s a role Love can thrive on. Remember, injuries really have been his downfall. If he’s able to play a backup role, there’s potential for him to contribute. Maybe the young squad plays well and rejuvenates him.
There’s only one way to find out, and short of the Cavs paying him to go away, Love as a reserve seems to be the only path moving forward.