To the surprise of nobody, Kevin Love will be a free agent on July 1. ESPN.com’s Marc Stein reports that he’s officially opted out of the final year of his contract with the Cavs:
What does this mean? Probably nothing. He was always going to opt out, if only to sign a one-year deal to remain with the Cavs, or a two-year deal with a player option on the second year. Even if he wants to stay with the Cavs long-term, it’s in his best interests to a) get as much money as possible now, and signing a one-year deal at the max will pay him around $3 million more than the final year of his previous deal, and b) put himself in the best position to be a free agent in one of the following two offseasons, when the league’s TV deal kicks in and the salary cap spikes.
The smart money is still on Love remaining in Cleveland, despite the logjam in the frontcourt that will come when they inevitably re-sign Tristan Thompson. Cleveland can pay him the most money of any team, and it’s tough for anyone to walk away from playing with LeBron James, which essentially means you’re guaranteed to be contending for a championship in the Eastern Conference every year. Plenty of teams will make calls to Love’s agent on July 1 — the Lakers, Knicks and Celtics all have money to burn, and his hometown Blazers could be a dark-horse option if LaMarcus Aldridge leaves. But there’s still every reason to believe he’ll stay with the Cavaliers, if just for another year.