Kevin Love on Cleveland: ‘I do want to be here. I always have.’

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Kevin Love should be near the top of any “players likely to be traded this season” list.

As we move closer to Christmas and beyond, and the trade deadline looms, his name will be popping up in rumors from Portland to Miami. It’s because he is on a Cleveland team that is tearing down and rebuilding, so if they can get good picks and/or young players for Love, they will listen. Also, Love is still a high-quality stretch four in a league where a number of potential contenders need someone to fill that role. Someone is going to step up and chase him, even with three-years, $91.5 million on the books AFTER this season.

Love, for his part, doesn’t want to go anywhere.

Look at what he told Chris Fedor of the Cleveland Plain Dealer.

“I do want to be here. I always have,” Love told in an exclusive one-on-one interview. “I say that knowing it’s the NBA and it’s a business. I think especially after seeing last year, the summer leading up to last year and this summer, the changeover is like unprecedented so you don’t know what is going to happen.

“If they decide to go completely young … and that could be the case, but it’s funny, my agent didn’t call me one time this summer to say, ‘Hey, you’re getting traded, there’s talks that this is happening.’ Of course, somehow it’s still out there and people are talking about, ‘Oh, Kevin would be great here or great there.’ I just keep it moving and try to do right by these guys because we have a good group.”

This is what nearly every player about to be traded says, but it doesn’t make it less true for Love. He likely wants to stay with this young Cavs team and be a leader. He’s also a veteran very good at tuning out the noise, the rumors are not going to slow him.

Those rumors will not stop. As time moves on and the additional years a team must take on gets shorter (plus he has a declining contract), other teams become more interested in Love. Plus, there’s the simple fact that before Christmas some teams in the deep and brutal West will realize they are stuck in the middle and will start looking at players who can help them break out — and there will be Love.

The concern is health. Love averaged 17 points and 10.9 rebounds a game, shooting 36 percent from three last season — but he played in just 22 games due to a toe injury that required surgery. Love has missed at least 22 games each of the previous three seasons. Love needs to stay on this court if he wants to be a leader for these young Cavaliers.

But if he stays on the court, the trade rumors will just grow louder.