5 Kevin Love Trades the Cleveland Cavaliers Should Explore
So, are the Cleveland Cavaliers going to trade Kevin Love or not?
Before LeBron James decided to sign with the Los Angeles Lakers, the organization maintained that it wanted to keep Love in Cleveland next season regardless, according to ESPN.com's Dave McMenamin. In other words, general manager Koby Altman wanted to boost Love's value before eventually trading him.
"Despite the Cavs' insistence they aren't interested in trading [Love], multiple sources around the league have told The Athletic the Cavs are indeed shopping him," Jason Lloyd of The Athletic reported Tuesday.
The Cavs owe a top-10-protected first-round pick to the Atlanta Hawks in 2019, which gives them incentive to bottom out. Love is all that's standing between them doing so.
The Cavaliers may decide to keep Love at first and let him inflate his stats before trading him. When they decide it's time, here are some deals they should pursue.
Love Goes Home
Cavaliers Receive: F/C Meyers Leonard, SF Maurice Harkless, PF Caleb Swanigan, 2019 1st-round pick
Blazers Receive: F/C Kevin Love
Love was born in Santa Monica, California, but his family moved to Lake Oswego, Oregon, shortly thereafter. Love spent 18 years there, and he finished as the state's all-time leading scorer in boys' basketball history.
Lake Oswego is roughly nine miles south of downtown Portland and a short 22-minute drive to the Moda Center, where the Trail Blazers play. Sending Love back home and to a team that finished third in the loaded Western Conference last year would be a show of good faith for his contributions over the past four years.
Portland could use a floor-stretching power forward to pair with its star backcourt of Damian Lillard and CJ McCollum. While those two averaged 5.6 three-pointers last year, the Blazers were only 16th in the NBA in made triples per game (10.3).
For Cleveland, this trade is mostly about getting Portland's unprotected first-round pick, although Swanigan is only 21 and could develop into a rotation-caliber big. Leonard and Harkless could potentially squeeze into the Cavaliers' rebuilding plans at ages 26 and 25, respectively, but they're mainly salary fillers that come off the books in 2020.
If the Cavs gave either of them an opportunity to produce and flipped them to a contender for a low pick sometime before then, it'd be a win.
Cavaliers Receive: SF Otto Porter Jr.
Wizards Receive: F/C Kevin Love
Porter has steadily improved throughout his five seasons in the league. This past season, he averaged a career-high 14.7 points while shooting 44.1 percent from three, and he just turned 25 at the beginning of June.
So, why would the Wizards trade him for Love, who's about to turn 30 this fall?
The Wizards were 21st in both rebounds and made three-pointers this past season, which are Love's biggest strengths. They also have 22-year-old Kelly Oubre Jr. waiting on the bench as a potential Porter replacement.
The Wizards could make a big leap in the East standings with a starting lineup of John Wall, Bradley Beal, Oubre, Love and Dwight Howard. If Love opts out next summer, Washington would clear out nearly $26 million in cap space, while the Cavs would owe Porter $81.7 million over the next three years.
Cleveland can afford to pay that now, especially for a potential franchise player.
Houston Loads Up
Cavaliers Receive: PF Ryan Anderson, C Chinanu Onuaku, 2019 and 2021 first-round picks
Rockets Receive: F/C Kevin Love
With the Lakers landing LeBron James and the Golden State Warriors reportedly coming to terms with DeMarcus Cousins, according to ESPN.com's Adrian Wojnarowski, the Houston Rockets can't just stand pat.
In this deal, the Rockets would finally get off their worst contract, as Anderson is owed nearly $42 million over the next two years. The Cavaliers can afford to take that back since they won't be in the market for a marquee free agent for years to come.
Love fits the Rockets' offensive identity, which focuses on shots inside the paint and outside the arc. The 29-year-old hit 2.3 threes per game at a 41.5 percent clip for Cleveland this past season.
Onuaku averaged 10.8 points, 9.6 rebounds, 2.9 assists and 1.2 blocks in 25.7 minutes per game with the G League's Rio Grande Valley Vipers in 2017-18. The former Louisville Cardinal won't turn 22 until November.
If the Cavs can get anything out of Onuaku, great. If not, they pick up a pair of first-round picks and open up some serious cap space in the summer of 2020.
Love to Philly with Memphis
Cavaliers Receive: PF Dario Saric, SG Ben McLemore, PF JaMychal Green, G Jerryd Bayless
76ers Receive: F/C Kevin Love
Grizzlies Receive: SF Robert Covington
If the 76ers can't trade for Kawhi Leonard, Love would be a nice consolation prize.
You couldn't find a better player to put next to Joel Embiid in the frontcourt. Love would keep driving lanes open for Ben Simmons and ensure no one would grab a rebound against the 76ers for the rest of time.
Love would be happy knowing he'd never have to play center again, and he'd be joining a team that could make the NBA Finals given the depleted state of the Eastern Conference.
If the Grizzlies are insistent on contending, moving a few of their role players for a solid starting small forward like Covington fills a need while also opening up the starting power forward job for rookie Jaren Jackson Jr.
This deal for Cleveland is mainly about Saric, a 24-year-old power forward who averaged 14.6 points, 6.7 rebounds and 2.6 assists last season while nailing 39.3 percent of his three-pointers. He would instantly become a building block for Cleveland, and the Cavs could also get some good minutes out of Green and McLemore before they become unrestricted free agents next summer.
Love Joins LeBron in LA
Cavaliers Receive: F Luol Deng, F Kyle Kuzma, G Josh Hart, 2019 first-round pick
Lakers Receive: F/C Kevin Love
If the Lakers can't trade for Kawhi Leonard, they're going to need some star help around James to make any noise in the Western Conference. JaVale McGee and Lance Stephenson won't cut it on their own.
Love, on the other hand, might.
"Obviously, I'd love to play with LeBron the rest of my career, but that will be a choice that he makes," Love said before James committed to the Lakers, per WKYC's Matthew Florjancic.
Lineups featuring James and Love lineups scored an average of 113.1 points per 100 possessions this past season, which would have led the league. The two combined to average 45.1 points and 17.9 rebounds per game.
The Lakers would get off Deng's remaining $36.8 million over the next two years, and they would keep their two best young players in Lonzo Ball and Brandon Ingram.
Cleveland would have to take on Deng's contract, but it would get back two young players in Kuzma and Hart to build around. The Fortnite sessions between them and former Lakers Larry Nance Jr. and Jordan Clarkson would be legendary, if nothing else.
For the Cavs to take on Deng's money, the Lakers would throw in a first-round pick for the trouble. Love would get his wish to play with James, and the Lakers would get another much-needed star.
Greg Swartz covers the Cleveland Cavaliers and NBA for Bleacher Report.