As the decision of Kawhi Leonard takes over the headlines, another set of NBA forwards could be on the move in Cleveland: Kevin Love and his frontcourt teammate Tristan Thompson. The 28-year-old big man was signed by the Cavs in 2011 and has remained there for the duration of his 8-year NBA career so far. Love, meanwhile, was brought in to help complete the “Big 3” during Cleveland’s contending years, and recently signed a max long-term contract to stay with the Cavs after LeBron’s departure.
They were both an instrumental part of the team’s Championship run in 2016, and the belief is he has enough value to bring the Cavs some young assets in return via trade. Thompson’s contract is the most moveable.
The rebounding and defensive specialist is going into the final year of his contract at $18.5 million. After once playing in 447 consecutive games, Thompson has missed 68 games over the past two seasons. The Cavs are likely to try to deal Thompson or center John Henson, who played only 14 games last season, by the trade deadline.
And for the right price, the Cavs could find a trade partner for Kevin Love as well…
Love is about to start a four-year, $120 million contract extension that he signed last year. The team is eager to see how he’ll fit in with new coach John Beilein’s system. Love played just 22 games last season because of foot surgery. These facts don’t add to a trade scenario. However, Love and the team knew when he signed the deal that there was a good chance he wouldn’t finish it in Cleveland, and a trade may be inevitable at some point. Interest in Love could ramp up if he plays well for Team USA in the World Cup this summer in China.
It will take young players and draft picks to secure a trade for either of the big men. The Celtics, Thunder, and Rockets are some who might be willing and able to meet those demands.