The Cleveland Cavaliers and Kevin Love agreed to a reported five-year $110 million contract on Wednesday. Upon his decision to return to the Cavaliers, Love released a poignant, yet succinct statement via The Players Tribune.
For the first time in his seven-year career, Love made the postseason in the NBA. The playoffs were something that he was ready to experience, and he needed a blockbuster trade to Cleveland to make it a reality. Averaging 16.4 points and 9.7 rebounds per game, Love’s role greatly diminished with the Cavaliers in the regular season. Utilized as a stretch four, Cleveland used their new all-star predominantly on the perimeter to space the floor. Throughout the season, it was easy to see Love’s struggles finding ways to fit in offensively.
Still, the Cavaliers made incredible strides once they acquired Timofey Mozgov, J.R. Smith, and Iman Shumpert in mid-season trades. Currently, only Smith is not with the team after opting out of the final year with his deal.
A major part of the reason why Love came back to Cleveland was his absence during the NBA Finals. Love points out how missing Game 1 of the NBA Finals really changed the outlook on the game of basketball. The Cavaliers had reached the pinnacle of the sport, and all he could do was sit on the sideline. Here is Kevin Love in his own words
I’m going back to Cleveland.
After Game 1 of the NBA Finals, that’s when it really struck me. Sitting on the sidelines, I never wanted to play in a game more than that one. I had dreamed of playing in the NBA Finals and I just wanted to help my guys win. I couldn’t have been prouder of them as they poured their blood, sweat and tears onto the court.
Yeah, of course I’ve heard the free agency rumors. But at the end of the day, and after meeting with my teammates (it turns out pools are great meeting places) and with the front office, it was clear Cleveland was the place for me. We’re all on the same page and we’re all in. We have unfinished business and now it’s time to get back to work.
Even after going through all those emotions, Love didn’t decide to commit to the Cavaliers until after meeting with his teammates, and front office. He also admitted that meeting poolside was a great idea, and that’s when the realization struck that he wanted to be in Cleveland.
However, it still won’t change anything if Love’s role on the offense stays the same. With the size of the contract, Love is definitely going to be the starting power forward, but he also has a phenomenal back up in Tristan Thompson. The Cavaliers and Thompson agreed to a five-year $80 million deal. That’s roughly $190 million dedicated to one position.
As Sportsline.com notes, Love was misused by the Cavaliers in his first season, but they have a chance to make a change. Even when Love started to flourish in the first round of the playoffs, he took 21 3-pointers before getting injured. He only had 41 shots total in the postseason. Love has a legitimate post game, and his touches on the low block were sparse. In fact, Love took six fewer shots per game in 2015 than his last season in Minnesota.
If that style of play continues, Love will undoubtedly question his role on the team. He can be the definitive third option on the team, while receiving the ball in better positions. Unfortunately, Lebron James’ assist might have to diminish for that to occur.