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It’s NBA draft and trade season, which means the name of Kevin Love must be uttered. At least, it always seems to go that way — and this year is no different.
Love is the Cavaliers’ power forward, and a player the Cavaliers intend to keep.
Or do they?
The New Orleans Pelicans, Atlanta Hawks and several others have interest in Love, even with his four-year contract extension about to kick in.
And what makes teams such as the Pelicans and Hawks so intriguing is they each have lottery picks. Former Cavs general manager David Griffin and current GM Koby Altman are tight. Griffin and the Pelicans have both the Nos. 1 and 4 overall picks. The Cavs have the fifth. Griffin has supposedly put the No. 4 pick up for grabs and loves Love, as relayed by Terry Pluto of Cleveland.com.
Remember, it was Griffin who traded Andrew Wiggins for Love back in 2014.
“The thinking on Love to New Orleans is Griffin decides to pair top pick Zion Williamson and all the young players he added from the Lakers (Brandon Ingram, Lonzo Ball and Josh Hart) with Love and returning guard Jrue Holiday and make a move for the playoffs within the next two seasons,” Pluto wrote.
Altman and the Cavs would have to take back some salary should they trade Love, but they may be willing to do that for more lottery picks. The Hawks hold the eighth and 10th (as well as the 17th).
The Cavs have to ask themselves if this is the draft to own multiple picks, if they want nothing more than a youth movement under new coach John Beilein (or if they want a more competitive team with a healthy Love) and if they could actually trade Love without handcuffing themselves financially.
Entering the draft, it appears the plan is to keep Love, continue to pair him with Collin Sexton and whoever the Cavs’ top rookie is next season. As Pluto reminded, Beilein has made it clear he’s excited to coach Love and the Cavs in general are more than happy to have him.
But Love is the type of player opposing teams still covet, a borderline All-Star when healthy, a “stretch four” who can hit 3-pointers and average double figures in rebounding. He has very little ego, and while everyone prefers to play for a winner, Love clearly is content just playing the game.
That makes him desirable to opposing teams and why we always hear his name when other teams start talking trade.
Could he be moved on draft night? You’d better believe it. But it will take a pretty decent haul and all that remains to be seen is if old friend Griffin, or the Hawks, or someone else will actually deliver it.
Love, 30, averaged 17.0 points and 10.9 rebounds in 22 games last season, shooting 90 percent from the free-throw line.