Ask any NBA general manager point-blank if they plan to trade a specific player and the answer will be a quick no. Every time. Even if everyone with an Internet connection knows that player is being shopped around, it hurts the GM’s leverage to say so publicly, plus it tends to rub players and agents the wrong way.
So when the Cleveland Plain Dealer’s Chris Fedor asked Cavaliers’ GM Koby Altman if there were any plans to trade Kevin Love, he got the expected answer.
“No. Not at all,” Altman said quickly.
The reality is more complicated.
Teams are calling still about Love’s availability and feeling out the process. Love is owed a lot of money still — he is in the first year of a four-year, $120 million contract extension — which will limit the number of suitors. However, he also is a quality veteran player — he’s averaging 19.2 points and 15.3 rebounds a game this season, shooting 41 percent from three — and one who has performed well on the biggest of stages. Love also plays a position where a number of teams that fancy themselves contenders could use a boost. (For example, if 3-3 Portland continues to stumble more than they expected, could they make a move for Love?)
Cleveland is rebuilding, which gets to something else Altman said in that interview.
It’s pretty simple: Gilbert has already let the front office know he’s on board with accumulating as many first-round picks as possible. Within reason, of course.
“Let’s just say we have mapped out all of our plans,” Altman said. “All of that stuff was addressed. He’s making strides and he’s going to be back soon.”
The reality is this: Cleveland is not going to just give Love away, but if a team calls with the ability to match salary (on shorter deals) plus has first-round picks and/or young players of value to put in the mix, the Cavaliers will listen. Maybe a deal happens this trade deadline, maybe next summer, maybe a couple of years from now.
However, it would be a shock to see Love finish out this contract in a Cavaliers uniform. No matter what Altman said.