Kevin Love set to join Miami Heat after Cleveland Cavaliers buyout
Kevin Love and the Cleveland Cavaliers have reached an agreement to buy out his contract, according to an announcement by the team on Saturday. Love, a five-time All-Star, was in the final year of a four-year contract and will need to clear waivers before he can sign with a new team. The Miami Heat are believed to be the frontrunners to acquire him, but sources say Love plans to speak with the Philadelphia 76ers before making a decision.
Cavaliers president of basketball operations Koby Altman praised Love for being “everything a franchise would want in a player”. Altman also stated that Love’s jersey will be hung in the rafters of the Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse, and added, “We thank Kevin for his impact and wish him nothing but the best, knowing that he has solidified his place in the hearts of Cavaliers fans and this organization forever.”
Love himself took to social media to thank the city of Cleveland and its fans, adding that he would have more to say soon. He had requested a buyout earlier in the week, after falling out of the Cavaliers’ rotation and sitting out their final 12 games before the All-Star break. The Cavaliers were 9-3 without Love in that stretch and entered the break in fourth place in the Eastern Conference.
The Miami Heat have reportedly created the flexibility to absorb at least one player in a buyout situation, after trading Dewayne Dedmon to the San Antonio Spurs this month in exchange for cash considerations. Heat guard Tyler Herro expressed hope that Love will bring his shooting down to “305”, referencing the Miami area code.
Heat center Bam Adebayo compared Love’s potential addition to that of longtime Miami big man Udonis Haslem. Adebayo stated that Love has won championships, been in locker rooms where teams have faced adversity, and can therefore help coach and guide younger players.
Love, who is 34 years old, is averaging career lows in scoring (8.5 points per game) and rebounds (6.8) this season, as a thumb injury has affected his shot. He has been with Cleveland since 2014 and was the last remaining link to the 2016 team that won the NBA title and ended the city’s 52-year pro sports championship drought. Over parts of 15 NBA seasons with Cleveland and Minnesota, Love has averaged 17.2 points and 10.5 rebounds per game, while shooting 37.2% from 3-point range. He has also helped USA Basketball win both Olympic and FIBA World Cup gold medals.
Love’s departure is expected to have an emotional impact on the Cavaliers. Cavaliers forward Evan Mobley told the Akron Beacon Journal, “It definitely hits you emotionally… All the guys are going to miss him for sure, and I just hope he does great wherever he goes.”
The buyout of Love’s contract will free up cap space for the Cavaliers, as they rebuild with young players such as Mobley and guards Darius Garland and Collin Sexton. While Love may not be the star he once was, he could still prove to be a valuable addition to a playoff-contending team, providing experience and leadership on and off the court.