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Trade interest in Cavaliers power forward Kevin Love could best described as somewhere between sparse and sky high.
In other words, the calls haven’t been coming in — yet. But most around the league feel things will pick up considerably around the Feb. 7 trade deadline.
That’s not me talking. That’s common knowledge. Whether Love is healthy or not, and regardless of his contract situation, he draws interest.
Why is it always this way? Because when healthy, Love is an All-Star. Mostly, he’s viewed as attainable.
Most opposing general managers don’t feel as if they would have to surrender the best and the brightest of their roster to land him. A nice young player, some salary to match, and a draft pick would probably do.
He definitely is the Cleveland player who other teams covet most.
As former coach and current broadcast analyst Mike Fratello said on FOX Sports Ohio’s “Cavs in the Paint,” teams such as the New Orleans Pelicans and Oklahoma City Thunder would love to pair Love with their current stars.
In fact, it’s been said recently the Pelicans are indeed considering making a run. Imagine a healthy Love next to a healthy Anthony Davis. It wouldn’t be enough to win the Western Conference — but would it be enough to convince Davis to give the Pelicans more time?
Or what about the Thunder? Imagine Love with Paul George and Russell Westbrook. The third option in a Big Three is where Love seems to fit best. In OKC, that would be his role.
I’ve also heard the Dallas Mavericks and Charlotte Hornets may make Love a target. Or what about the Denver Nuggets and Utah Jazz? We’ve heard those rumors for a while.
Or how about this — Love lining up next to Kyrie Irving again, only this time with the Boston Celtics. Would it be enough to put the Celtics over the top?
If I’m the Cavs, I’d probably ask. Unlike the others mentioned, the Celtics have lots of assets. That includes four first-round picks. They have no desire to add four rookies on guaranteed contracts to their veteran team next season. It’s just not practical.
For the Celtics, Plan A is to use draft picks for a quality veteran. Their top choice would clearly be Davis. But that may not happen in time. It also seems like the Celtics would like to make a big move the deadline (as opposed to the offseason). They could use another star in an Eastern Conference that suddenly appears more difficult to navigate than expected.
NEED MORE LOVE?
Still, other teams say they have not heard from the Cavs about Love. It is pretty evident, according to most, the Cavs are waiting for calls — but aren’t likely to make them. At least not about Love.
At some point, and probably soon, the Cavs will start gauging the market for the likes of Rodney Hood, Alec Burks and several others who would be easy to move. But they won’t get much in return for those players. A pick in the late-first or early-second round would likely be the highlight of package for Hood or Burks.
Those two and others could also be used as “throw-ins” in a bigger trade.
But trades are hard to forecast. No one came close to predicting Cavs GM Koby Altman would turnover the team at the deadline last season. But he did. There’s no telling what he might do this time.
It may be nothing. But that seems highly unlikely on a roster where everyone is pretty much up for grabs. If Altman doesn’t make deals now, you can expect some to come in June, around the time of the draft.
As for Love specifically, yes, there’s a bit of a conundrum for opposing teams.
They like his game, but his extensive injury history is understandably cause for pause. One opposing GM says there are questions as to whether Love “will gut it out when he’s hurting,” or if he perhaps makes random pains sometimes seem “a lot worse than they actually are.”
Fair or not, that’s what one person with an interest in Love thinks.
So there is a great deal of intrigue, and a great deal of skepticism. How might that change between now and February?
According to most around the league, it appears to have little to do with whether Love can return from foot surgery before the deadline. It has much more to with how desperate opposing teams are feeling, and what precisely the Cavs are seeking in return.
Everyone, it seems, is preparing to find out.