Stein speculated the Denver Nuggets could be one team that makes a run at Love, based on their "longstanding fondness" for the five-time All-Star.
Some were surprised when the Cavaliers signed Love to a four-year, $120 million extension in July.
Cleveland was clearly in rebuilding mode once LeBron James signed with the Los Angeles Lakers, while Love has battled injuries for much of his career. Sure enough, the Cavs own the NBA's worst record (8-29), and Love has been out since late October (he underwent surgery on his left foot in November).
Trading Love is the best move for Cleveland. In the offseason, general manager Koby Altman said he didn't want to tank and instead hoped the Cavs would compete for a playoff berth. The team's dreadful start indicates how far away it is from postseason contention.
The Cavaliers are unlikely to be near the top eight of the Eastern Conference within the next two or three years, so they may as well try to move the 30-year-old Love.
In that sense, his extension may work in Cleveland's favor. A team interested in acquiring Love knows he'll be under contract through the 2022-23 season. In addition, ESPN.com's Adrian Wojnarowski and Brian Windhorst reported Love took $8 million less than he could've earned on a full max deal. His annual salary tops out at $31.3 million in 2020-21 and 2021-22 before falling slightly to $28.8 million in the final year.
Stein noted the Cavs have to wait until Jan. 24 before they can officially trade Love based on when he signed his extension, so any potential deal isn't imminent. Not to mention, an interested suitor may prefer to wait until Love has returned to the court before deciding what it would send Cleveland in return.
Should Love remain on the Cavs after the Feb. 7 trade deadline expires, speculation on his future will likely become a storyline once again in the summer.