The Cavaliers reportedly wanted a first-round pick for the talented forward. Other teams reportedly wanted a first-round pick for taking on the 31-year-old who’s owed $91,459,342 over the following three seasons.
Portland offered Bazemore and Whiteside, which essentially would’ve matched Kevin’s salary. But both of those are expiring contracts and the Cavs would’ve received no real assets in return.
Whiteside ($27,093,018 salary) and Bazemore ($19,269,662 salary) would not have worked for Love ($28,942,830). However, trading Whiteside straight up for Love would have.
So, why include Bazemore? So, the Trail Blazers would have gotten additional player(s) from the Cavs.
Without knowing which player(s), it’s impossible to fully evaluate this offer.
Maybe Portland was willing to take on a questionably valuable player like Larry Nance Jr. or Dante Exum. It’s possible Cleveland would prefer to unload either. But the Cavs seem content with those two.
More likely, the Trail Blazers wanted more value. Tristan Thompson, on an expiring contract himself, would have fit into a Love-for-Whiteside-and-Bazemore trade. Portland could have used Thompson at center with Whiteside outgoing and Jusuf Nurkic and Zach Collins sidelined.
If that was the offer – Whiteside and Bazemore for Love and Thompson – it’ll be interesting to see whether the Cavaliers will regret passing. Love isn’t helping the culture in Cleveland. The Cavs aren’t good enough to win with him and likely won’t be soon. He’s expensive and not getting any younger. And how much value will they get from Thompson? The optics of this move might have been poor after securing Love to a big contract extension and talking up Thompson as a leader. But front offices should often be braver than they are.
For the Trail Blazers, even if Love presents poor value, he can play. Portland is locked into a high payroll, regardless. This was an opportunity to upgrade in talent with less opportunity cost than most teams would suffer by adding Love.