But ask Love – who grew up in Portland – about playing for the Trail Blazers, and he beams.
Love on the “Posted Up with Chris Haynes” podcast:
Who wouldn’t want to play with Dame Lillard, first of all? Dame is, he’s special. He’s amazing.
I still love – I claim Portland. People ask me where I’m from. I spent all my formative years. I grew up in Portland. People ask me where I’m born. Obviously, I say L.A. But Portland is always going to be a special place in my heart. Whether it be at the end of my career, whether it be in six months, whatever it may be – if I was wearing a Portland jersey, that’s special, right? That’s playing at home.
But what do you say? What’s the saying? Want to make god laugh, tell him your plans. It’s obviously a special place.
I love C.J. Melo has done an incredible job stepping in there. Terry Stotts. Portland has always had something special. And I’m happy that they’ve had success this year, even without their fans. Because as you know, you’ve been to Portland, you’ve played in Portland, you’ve played against Portland – their fans come out. I mean, they’ve got to be some of the top fans in the league.
Rip City has always been special. Used to go to the Memorial Coliseum growing up, the whole Rose Quarter, my first concert’s there, kissed my first girlfriend there. Portland is a special place for me. Whether I play there or not ever, I’m always going to go back, and that’s always going to be a place I represent.
It’s great Love loves Portland. Many people hold their hometowns in high regard or have a particular fondness for certain cities. He can be committed to helping the Cavs while still appreciating Portland.
But there’s a fine line.
When gushing out about New York, Pelicans star Zion William made sure to call it his favorite place “outside of New Orleans.” Love made no such mention of Cleveland in this answer.
This feels like the latest step in the progression with Love and the Cavaliers – from “I do want to be here. I always have” to “Let the chips fall where they may” to an anonymously sourced reports he preferred a trade to a contender or Portland to Love raving on the record about Portland.
But Portland no longer has the obvious contract to match Love’s high salary ($31,258,256 next season and $28,942,830 the following season). C.J. McCollum would work, but he is better and younger than Love. Norman Powell and/or Derrick Jones Jr. opting in could create options, but especially Powell seems highly likely to opt out. A sign-and-trade with Powell could work, but that’s even more complex.
Love joining the Trail Blazers is far from impossible. But it’s not something he can simply speak into existence.