Report: Cavaliers won’t trade Kevin Love if LeBron James leaves

Kurt Helin
NBC Sports

With every passing hour (and every tracked plane flight), it looks more and more like LeBron James is leaving Cleveland this summer. Probably for Los Angeles, but one way or another he seems gone.

Maybe owner Dan Gilbert is good with that, but it begs the question: What’s next?

One consistent report was echoed again by Joe Varden of the Cleveland Plain Dealer: They are not planning to trade Kevin Love. Also, they may try to bring back Jeff Green.

Sources told cleveland.com this week that the Cavs would not trade Love, a five-time All-Star who is owed about $50 million over the next two seasons, if James leaves as a free agent. Sources say James is strongly considering joining the Los Angeles Lakers.

“There is no reason to go backwards,” one source said, describing the Cavs’ situation….

Cleveland has a $5.3 million exception to the salary cap, and can go over the cap to re-sign restricted free agent Rodney Hood. The team is also interested in Jeff Green coming back. Green played on a one-year deal for the veteran’s minimum last season.

The Cavaliers may come around to trading Love, who has one year ($24.1 million) plus a player option year ($25.5 million) on his contract. There is no reason for the Cavaliers to start a fire sale the minute LeBron announces his new home, but the Cavaliers will be heading into a full-on rebuild, and they should start considering options through the rest of the summer and heading into the trade deadline. Kyle Korver would be a trade target by playoff teams looking for shooting. If a team ends up needing a veteran point guard maybe George Hill draws interest, but at $19 million he will difficult to move.

The challenge with trading Love would be finding a team that would take on that much salary when most are capped out. While some fans like to malign him, Love brings skills — he’s an All-Star who averaged 17.3 points and 9.3 rebounds a game, is strong on the glass and who can score inside and out.

As for Green, bringing him back should depend upon the price. Get him at the veteran minimum or something close to that again, go for it. He can be a decent if inconsistent part of the rotation. However, if another team steps up with more money, let him walk.

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