Kevin Love

Why Kevin Love might opt in to the final season of his contract

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Kevin Love wants to leave Minnesota, and the Timberwolves might trade him.

But they’ll trade him only if they get an enticing offer. Otherwise, it makes more sense to take their chances – no matter how slim – that Love actually follows through and leaves money on the table to depart Minnesota in 2015.

So, how can Love persuade the Warriors, Bulls, Rockets, Celtics or any other team to make Minnesota a satisfactory proposal?

He can agree to remain under contract beyond next season.

Knowing Love can become a free agent in 2015 will lower the quality of assets teams will relinquish in a trade for him. After the Lakers traded for Dwight Howard only to see him walk in free agency a year later, teams will be especially hesitant to get caught in the same position.

But Love can put those concerns at ease by agreeing to an extend-and-trade or exercising his 2015-16 player option ($16,744,219) contingent on a deal. And by agreeing to do either only for certain teams, he can effectively dictate where he’s traded.

Love will make $15,719,063 next season. After that, the ball is mostly in his court.

Here are the paths Love’s max salary could travel over the upcoming years depending on whether he opts in (green), opts out (blue) or agrees to an extend and trade (black) using a rough salary-cap estimate that increases each year by the amount it’s projected to this year.

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Salary by year 2016 2017 2018 2019 2020 2021
Extend and trade $16,744,219 $17,497,709
Opt out, re-sign $18,975,014 $20,398,140 $21,821,266 $23,244,392 $24,667,518
Opt out, sign elsewhere $18,975,014 $19,828,889 $20,682,765 $21,536,640
Opt in, re-sign $16,744,219 $20,241,770 $21,759,903 $23,278,036 $24,796,169 $26,314,301
Opt in, sign elsewhere $16,744,219 $20,241,770 $21,152,650 $22,063,530 $22,974,409

 

Salary through year 2016 2017 2018 2019 2020 2021
Extend and trade $16,744,219 $34,241,928
Opt out, re-sign $18,975,014 $39,373,153 $61,194,419 $84,438,810 $109,106,328
Opt out, sign elsewhere $18,975,014 $38,803,903 $59,486,668 $81,023,308
Opt in, re-sign $16,744,219 $36,985,989 $58,745,892 $82,023,928 $106,820,097 $133,134,399
Opt in, sign elsewhere $16,744,219 $36,985,989 $58,138,639 $80,202,169 $103,176,578

 

It’s in Love’s best financial interest – whether he opts in or out – to re-sign with whatever team he’s playing for when his contract expires. That’s why it’s important Love plays his cards correctly now.

An extend and trade (if signed after the the July moratorium) would best serve Love if he opts in to the final year of his existing contract, but the deal could last only one additional season. Financially, it’s a poor option, but guaranteeing his next team three years might be the best way to secure a trade.

Most likely, though, Love can arrange a trade by opting in to the final year of his contract as a condition of the deal – giving his next team two years with him. If Love opts in to his final year of his contract, not only would his new team get an additional year of Love, it could use that extra year to re-trade him if it doesn’t believe he’ll re-sign.

Possibly, a team would trade for Love without the guarantee he’ll opt in. But, again, that’s headed toward the area where teams might not surrender enough to convince Minnesota to pull the trigger.

If Love wants to force a trade, he has some leverage. Opting in to the final year of his contract would cost him money next season, but if that’s what it takes to get him to place he wants to re-sign, it will make him money in the long run.

Lou Williams hits halfcourt buzzer-beater (video)

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Yeah, the Lakers lost to the Rockets, 134-95, Wednesday. But consider how lopsided that margin would’ve been without Lou Williams‘ halfcourt buzzer-beater.

And if this headline looks familiar, it is.

LeBron James, Cavaliers do water-bottle challenge on bench during blowout win over Knicks (video)

Cleveland Cavaliers forward LeBron James, left, and Cavaliers forward Richard Jefferson entertain themselves by flipping a water bottle trying to get it to land on it's flat bottom during the fourth quarter of an NBA basketball game against the New York Knicks at Madison Square Garden in New York, Wednesday, Dec. 7, 2016. The Cavaliers defeated the Knicks 126-94, and most starters left the game for the bench at the end of the fourth quarter. (AP Photo/Kathy Willens)
AP Photo/Kathy Willens
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LeBron James did his part – scoring 25 points (on just 10 shots!), dishing seven assists and grabbing six rebounds – to give the Cavaliers an insurmountable lead over the Knicks through three quarters. So, he didn’t even play in the fourth quarter.

As Cleveland put the finishing touches on its 126-94 win, boredom set it. LeBron and a few of his teammates tried to flip a water bottle and have it land upright on the floor. LeBron even dove onto the court to pull the bottle back in after an errant flip!

No, Phil Jackson should not have used the word “posse” to describe LeBron’s business associates and friends. But this is the most disrespectful thing I’ve ever seen – and I love it.

DeMarcus Cousins says Mavericks’ rumored interest flatters him, but he loves Kings

Sacramento Kings center DeMarcus Cousins (15) receives a blow to the head from Dallas Mavericks' Dwight Powell as Cousins works to get to the basket in the first half of an NBA basketball game, Wednesday, Dec. 7, 2016, in Dallas. (AP Photo/Tony Gutierrez)
AP Photo/Tony Gutierrez
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The Mavericks’ long-rumored interest in DeMarcus Cousins took its most direct public turn before the season, when Dallas signed Cousins’ brother, Jaleel Cousins. Jaleel is now on the Mavericks’ D-League affiliate, and I bet he will remain there as DeMarcus approaches 2018 free agency.

Brad Townsend of The Dallas Morning News:

So, DeMarcus Cousins, what do you think about the Mavericks’ long-rumored interest in acquiring you?

“It’s flattering,” Cousins told me, with a laugh, after the Kings’ Wednesday shootaround at AAC. Then, turning serious, he added of the Mavericks, “I respect them.”

“But,” I said, “I’ve also heard that you like it in Sacramento.”

“No,” Cousins corrected, “I love Sacramento.”

Cousins is getting good at this, toeing the line between appreciating another team’s interest and expressing his satisfaction with the Kings.

And give Cousins credit. He keeps producing at a star level for a team that hasn’t provided him with the proper support. Sacramento again appears headed toward the lottery, even as Cousins averages 29-10.

Questions remain, though: How much of Cousins’ attitude is him trying to make the best of an inescapable situation, and will expanded options in the summer of 2018 test his loyalty?

LeBron James dunks, struts past camerapeople and toward crowd, spooks fan (video)

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LeBron James is dominating, and the Cavaliers are rolling over the Knicks.

It’s almost as if something has LeBron particularly riled up. But maybe ease up a little? That cowering fan isn’t Phil Jackson.