More and more, people around the league are getting the idea Kevin Love meant what he said, and he said what he meant:
That he plans to remain a Cleveland Cavalier.
Other teams — the Lakers, Knicks, Celtics, Trail Blazers and more — are going to come calling on July 1 when free agency opens. There remains some doubt whether those teams would even get a meeting with Love.
Cleveland is in the drivers’ seat to retain him, especially if they offer a long-term max contract, something Brian Windhorst of ESPN says they will.
Though they cannot formally make an offer until Wednesday, sources say that the Cavs for months have planned to extend a five-year, maximum contract for Love in excess of $110 million despite his shoulder and back injuries last season.
Love may speak to other teams next week, but there is a growing belief across the league that he will back up statements made throughout the season and return to the Cavs. Several sources close to Love have indicated he is likely to stay in Cleveland.
I have said from the start the question is not if Love would return, rather, the question was what kind of deal he would sign.
The Cavaliers want to lock down Love for five years at the max under the current salary cap — five years and $110 million will seem a good deal once the cap spikes with television money after the year. Even if the Cavaliers wanted to go another direction, that contract would not be hard to move.
But just like LeBron James, Love may eye a share of that big television money.
He likely will request an opt out in a year or two (or three at most), so his options remain open.
Either way, expect Love and the Cavaliers to reach a deal. The only question is exactly what it will be.
And how he will fit in with Tristan Thompson, who the Cavaliers also will re-sign (which is why LeBron is playing this “hold out” game with the Cavs).