This might have qualified as obvious news, but the existence of Kyrie Irving means it needs to be confirmed: Kevin Love would very much like to continue playing on the same team as LeBron James.
With James’ free agency looming and his days in Cleveland looking numbered, James’ top teammate made it known to Cleveland NBC-affiliate WKYC on Saturday that as long he’s playing basketball, he would like to be by LeBron James’ side.
“It’s something where I’m sure he will spend time with his family and when that times comes to make a decision, he will be in a good frame of mind,” Love said. “Obviously, I’d love to play with LeBron the rest of my career, but that will be a choice that he makes.”
That’s all well and good, but there is plenty of reason to believe Love won’t be getting his wish.
Where will LeBron James go in free agency?
Basically, wherever he wants outside of the Warriors, and that’s just a maybe. Stephen A. Smith reported Wednesday that there are seven teams on James’ list of potential destinations if he decides to opt out of his contract with the Cavaliers. Those are:
Los Angeles Lakers
Golden State Warriors
All seven of those possibilities make some amount of sense, but also have their own problems. The Cavaliers would love to have James, but they’ve also made it pretty clear their incapable of beating the Kevin Durant Warriors even with James. The 76ers are up and coming with plenty of cap space, but Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons wouldn’t be great compliments for James, who needs shooters by his side more than anything else. The Celtics would dominate the East with James, but they also feature Irving, a player who made it quite clear he would not like to play with James.
The Rockets might make the most sense, but they’d also hit a major cap crunch with James on board. The Lakers definitely need another big name to come to LA along with James if they want to contend, but that might not be a problem. The Warriors… yeah, that’s not even something the NBA wants to think about. It would be insane, but could also kill what little parity the NBA had left. And the salary cap ramifications would be dire. The Heat saw plenty of success with James, but there is no reason to believe they’d have a chance against the Warriors with him now.
What happens to Kevin Love if LeBron James leaves Cleveland?
It’s hard to figure out where James will end up, but it seems pretty clear what will happen to Love if James leaves Cleveland. That would be a trade as the Cavaliers rebuild and kick off the post-LeBron era, a strategy that ESPN’s Zach Lowe reported as likely if the Cavaliers want to be competitive again.
Love still has two years remaining on his max contract, so he could still fetch a return for the Cavaliers if they decide to massively retool. We’ve made plenty of jokes about James’ supporting cast this year, but Love pretty clearly wasn’t the problem.
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