Kevin Love

Report: NBA could block Kevin Love trade if agreement for him to sign long-term in Cleveland is already in place


It’s all but certain that Kevin Love will be traded to the Cavaliers just as soon as the rookie contract signed by Andrew Wiggins allows the deal to go through, but some recently reported details could possibly place the entire thing in jeopardy if it can be proven that an illegal agreement (in terms of the league’s collective bargaining agreement) is already in place.

Both teams have been careful not to say too much, lest the league come down on them with severe consequences for working outside of the rules. But if Love has in fact implicitly agreed to re-sign in Cleveland as has been reported, that may be an issue that the league office has no choice but to address.

From Brian Windhorst and Marc Stein of

But sources say that the Cavs and Wolves, knowing that league officials are monitoring this transaction closely, have been careful not to make any public acknowledgments that trade details have already been agreed to. That’s because Wiggins remains ineligible to move moved until 30 days pass from the signing his rookie contract.

The Cavs were granted permission last month by Minnesota to speak to Love and his representatives in an introductory fashion, sources say, while James and Love have also been in direct contact about their long-term intentions of playing together in recent weeks. But sources insist that no agreement for Love to sign an extension in Cleveland next summer when he can become a free agent is in place.

Under NBA rules, such an agreement would be illegal and, if proven, potentially could be grounds for the league to block this trade and dole out punishment to both teams. The Wolves were infamously sanctioned heavily in 2000 after it was discovered that the club had promised a lucrative future contract — in writing — to Joe Smith, incurring a fine of $3.5 million and the loss of four first-round picks as well as suspensions for owner Glen Taylor and then-GM Kevin McHale.

Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo Sports initially reported that “Cleveland is making the deal with Minnesota with a firm agreement Love will opt out of his contract in 2015 and re-sign with the Cavaliers on a five-year, $120 million-plus contract extension.” That’s the point of contention that could potentially allow the league to step in, but good luck proving it in any capacity.

No one’s stupid enough to put something like that in writing this time, and barring a ridiculous out-of-place statement from one of the deal’s principles, no matter what Love’s intentions might be, there will be no way to prove that something was already in place before the trade was executed.

LeBron James posts photo with Tristan Thompson, sends message to Cavs

2015 NBA Finals - Game Five
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Tristan Thompson is a man without a contract. By not signing the qualifying offer with the Cleveland Cavaliers he put himself in limbo, the rare NBA holdout. Right now his options are to sign the deal on the table (the Cavs still have the five-year, $80 million offer out there), get the Sixers or Blazers to offer him a max contract (which neither team has shown any interest in doing), or hold out and hope the Cavaliers make a better offer. If he holds out for the entire season he becomes a restricted free agent again next summer — exactly like he is right now.

Without signing the qualifying offer and the threat of leaving, Thompson hurt his leverage.

But he has a little leverage. He and his agent Rich Paul had one other card, and it got played Saturday.

Get it done!!!! Straight up. #MissMyBrother @realtristan13

A photo posted by LeBron James (@kingjames) on

LeBron James and Thompson share an agent in Paul. LeBron has largely remained silent through this process but if he wants something in the Cleveland organization, he usually gets it. And he wants Thompson back at practices.

LeBron’s leverage is going to be put to the test. The Cavaliers have let it leak they are not that concerned about LeBron leaving them next summer over this — and they’re right. The damage to LeBron’s brand if he broke the hearts of Cleveland fans again would be crushing, unless he leaves for a very good reason. Overpaying Thompson is not that reason.

However, LeBron’s comment could push the Cavaliers to try to find a compromise.

For the Cavaliers, a lot of how they view all this comes down to their tax bill. The Cavaliers already have $94.9 million in guaranteed salary on the books, putting them $10.2 million over the luxury tax line, at a cost of more than $16.25 million. What this means if (or when) they sign Thompson is his first $10 million in salary would cost them $28.75 million in tax and every dollar above that for the next $5 million costs them $3.75-to-$1. Look at it this way, by my count $14 million this year to Thompson would cost $43.75 million in tax — the total for Thompson at that price is $58 million. While that’s not all on Thompson it’s a lot of cash, and Thompson wants a max deal that starts at more than $16 million a year.

Owner Dan Gilbert is already going to pay the highest tax bill in the NBA this season, but if he balks at those figures it’s hard to blame him.


Hezonja throws down one-handed dunk in preseason debut

Orlando Magic Introduce 2015 NBA Draft Picks
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Mario Hezonja, the No. 5 pick in this year’s draft, has never lacked for confidence. The Croatian guard made his pro debut in the Magic’s preseason game against the Hornets on Saturday and did this:

Between Hezonja, Elfrid Payton, Victor Oladipo and Aaron Gordon, the Magic have a nucleus of young players that has the potential to be a lot of fun. Even if they’re still a few years away from contending, they’re definitely going to be a League Pass favorite this year.