As soon as Kevin Love signed a four-year, $120 million contract extension with the Cleveland Cavaliers back in 2018, it seemed like a forgone conclusion that he wouldn't finish that contract there. It was a move of desperation by the Cavaliers after LeBron James decided to leave for the Los Angeles Lakers in the same summer. Instead of entering a full rebuild when Love's original contract was up at the end of the 2019-20 season, Cleveland tied itself to Love through the end of 2022-23.
Fast forward a couple years, and the Cavaliers find themselves in a tough position with Love, after an offseason of moves that signals the end of his time in Cleveland. By drafting forward Evan Mobley with the No. 3 overall pick in the 2021 NBA Draft, re-signing big man Jarrett Allen to a multi-year deal and most recently trading for Bulls forward Lauri Markkanen, the Cavaliers have a crowded -- and significantly younger -- frontcourt, bringing Love's place in all of it in question.
After trading for Markkanen last week, Love's agent said the Cavs veteran is not interested in a buyout of the remaining $60 million left on his contract, which is surprising given it would allow him to sign elsewhere, perhaps with a championship-contending team. If he were to agree to a buyout, there would no doubt be a list of title contenders lining up to convince the five-time All-Star to sign with them.
The Warriors were interested in Love back in mid-July when there was "growing sentiment" around the league that he would agree to a buyout with the Cavaliers. The Portland Trail Blazers were also tied to the versatile forward dating back to 2019 when that was his reported preferred destination as he grew up in Lake Oswego, Oregon. Yet it was Larry Nance Jr. who was dealt to Portland in the three-team trade that landed the Cavaliers Markkanen, cutting out that option for the Cavaliers and Love. The Lakers likely would've been on that list, but they've reportedly zoned in on using their final roster spot to sign Rajon Rondo. The Brooklyn Nets also reportedly have interest if Love were bought out.
Agreeing to a buyout would be the easier route for Cleveland, and it would ensure that the Cavaliers wouldn't have to give up another asset to get off his contract. But if Love isn't entertaining that idea, then that means the only other avenue is to trade him, either now or wait until the season starts and the trade deadline approaches.