Kevin Love has denied that he is going to leave the Cavaliers this summer. Repeatedly.
That has not stopped the chatter around the league that he will consider leaving this summer — the volume of which have gone up since the emergence of Tristan Thompson replacing the injured Love these playoffs.
The most likely outcome is Love remaining a Cavalier and playing alongside LeBron James. However, the well-connected Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo Sports was on The Jason McIntyre Show on Yahoo Sports Radio and said expect Love to test the market. As transcribed at Sheridan Hoops:
“I think he’s going to look around,” Wojnarowski said. “I think he’s going to look closely at Boston. I think he’ll look at LA. I’m sure the Texas teams are going to try and get involved.
“If you remember, he really liked Kevin McHale in Minnesota,” Wojnarowski continued. “Would he fit potentially in Houston? It seems like every summer, they have the ability to go out and create a max slot, and they do this summer again. They know they have the option to do that.
“I think he’ll be in play. He could stay where he is, but there’s no question he’s going to look long and hard at what his options are.”
I expect Love will stay in Cleveland, at least for one more year.
The reason is simple: image. If he bolts Cleveland this summer (particularly to play for the rebuilding Lakers or Celtics) he will look like a guy who cares about his own numbers and being the focal point of a team more than he does winning and rings. The spin (outside the market he chooses) will be “Love couldn’t handle playing next to LeBron” and that he wouldn’t make the sacrifices needed to win. Fair or not, that’s how it will be spun.
Love is concerned about his image, and how the perception of him could impact his ability to get national endorsement deals (among other things). He knows how it would look if he left this summer.
If Love stays for a year or two — particularly if he wins a ring — then says he wants out, he can rightfully say he tried to make it work, but he’s not happy and is leaving. It will feel different than him having played just one year in Cleveland.
Or, maybe he stays next year, they win a title, and he doesn’t want to leave at all.
That’s what he’s said all along. It’s just that a lot of people around the league doubt his sincerity on that front.