Interesting dark horse in Kevin Love pursuit: Portland Trail Blazers

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We need to start here: I don’t expect Kevin Love to leave the Cleveland Cavaliers. Love has repeatedly said he plans to return to the Cavaliers next season and chase a ring next to LeBron James and Kyrie Irving.

But nothing is set in stone. Love opted out of his contract for next season as expected, and LeBron James doesn’t feel the need to recruit him to stay.

A host of teams will make a run at Love (we’ll see if he even meets with them). The Lakers are considered the favorites but the Celtics, Knicks and a host of other teams will give it a shot.

One interesting dark horse: Portland. From Marc Stein of ESPN.

Sources say that the Portland Trail Blazers, furthermore, are likely to pursue the former Oregon high school star in the event that LaMarcus Aldridge — as many league executives expect — flees the Blazers in free agency.

Remember, Love grew up in that area and played his high school ball at Lake Oswego just outside Portland. Plus he would be plug-and-play in a good lineup, he would pair with Damian Lillard and a solid core of role players (if they can re-sign Wesley Matthews), and they could do some damage, even in a deep West.

It’s a long shot. Love leaving Cleveland is a long shot. But if you see him start to meet with teams other than the Cavs, keep an eye on Portland if LaMarcus Aldridge heads to the Mavericks (or other teams in Texas).