The Cavaliers finished dead last in their conference at the end of the 2020 NBA season. They need to rebuild and look towards the future. Collin Sexton and Obi Toppin could be exciting in the future; why not help them by getting players to support them in contending? The Cavaliers’ rebuild could be accelerated if they trade their big contracts for some assets; Kevin Love is one of the contracts that have value to teams in a trade.
Kevin Love is a floor stretching PF who can play the C in small-ball lineups in the NBA. His shooting ability is what made him a winner with LeBron James, and he is the perfect third star behind any high usage superstar. Love is getting older, but teams may want to take the risk in adding the big man: one would hope that a competitive environment brings out the best in the veteran rather than being stuck on the worst team in the East.
5. Brooklyn Nets
Brooklyn Nets Receive: Kevin Love
Cleveland Cavaliers Receive: Taurean Prince, Caris LeVert, a future first-round pick
If the Brooklyn Nets trade for Love, that will make them the superteam to beat in the Western Conference. Barring any severe injury, Love’s acquisition gives the Nets a sharpshooting big man who can be on the floor at crunch time due to his spacing and his ability to switch on the perimeter. The Nets could run a 5 out lineup towards the end of the game for Kyrie Irving and let him score in isolation; another benefit is that teams wouldn’t be able to double team Durant with Love at C without giving up open jumpers.
The Nets would give up a wing player in Caris LeVert. LeVert brings scoring ability and playmaking at the wing; the Cavaliers could roll the dice on him and hope that he has a fully healthy season and truly breaks out as a star. The Cavaliers would also get a first-round pick for their rebuild, and Taurean Prince to match the contracts.
4. Charlotte Hornets
Charlotte Hornets Receive: Kevin Love
Cleveland Cavaliers Receive: Cody Zeller, Malik Monk, a future second-round pick
Michael Jordan approved a max contract for Gordon Hayward in the hopes that he can get back to All-Star form. There is a lot of hype around LaMelo Ball, so assuming that he has a good rookie season, Kevin Love could be the missing ingredient to the blueprint of a good Hornets team. With other good players like Devonte’ Graham and Miles Bridges, the Hornets could be looking at a playoffs push. Trading for Love could guarantee them a lower seed.
The Hornets would send a big contract in Cody Zeller, alongside Malik Monk who is still young. The future pick would just be an extra blessing for the Cavaliers in their rebuild. The Cavaliers would surely accept such a trade; they want to reduce the amount of salary they pay, and this trade would allow for that once Zeller’s contract expires. The Hornets believe in LaMelo Ball: this is their chance to make sure he does well.
3. Houston Rockets
Houston Rockets Receive: Kevin Love
Cleveland Cavaliers Receive: Eric Gordon, P.J. Tucker, Danuel House
The Rockets have traded Russell Westbrook for John Wall, bringing some fresh faces into town. Meanwhile, they’ve made some interesting signings, including Christian Wood and DeMarcus Cousins. That signals that they’re willing to experiment with bigger lineups, instead of consistent 5 out small-ball under D’Antoni. Kevin Love could fit into this scheme as a mobile big man, shifting Wood down to the SF position. Having Wall at the point guard also benefits the big man, as Wall is known to feed his big men, and Love can feast all day off of dump-offs and wide-open threes created by Wall’s playmaking.
The trade itself would be centered around Eric Gordon and P.J. Tucker for the contract value. Both are experienced veterans who can mentor younger players and play off the bench. Danuel House is the main attraction in this trade, as he thrived as a 3 and D player for the Houston Rockets. The Cavaliers would acquire House in the hopes that more touches will develop him into an outstanding player for years to come.
2. Dallas Mavericks
Dallas Mavericks Receive: Kevin Love
Cleveland Cavaliers Receive: Dwight Powell, Maxi Kleber, Dorian Finney-Smith, Wes Iwundu, a future first-round pick
The Dallas Mavericks could have two shooting bigs on the roster, maximizing Luka Doncic’s space to operate. It would take all the spacing of the modern era and combine it with old school two big inside presence. As a team, they would instantly get better at rebounding, while maintaining their ability to shoot the ball. Sometimes it’s as simple as Houston’s approach with Harden; put shooters around a superstar and let them go to work.
The Dallas Mavericks would send out some contracts, alongside a wing defender in Wes Iwundu and a future pick. The pick here is a first-round pick to reflect the lower value of the Mavericks’ picks when they contend. Even with the Mavericks’ contention status factored in, this is a good return for the Cavaliers as they would get some contracts for future trade, and a pick for their rebuild.
1. New York Knicks
New York Knicks Receive: Kevin Love
Cleveland Cavaliers Receive: Julius Randle, Reggie Bullock, Kevin Knox, a future second-round pick
The Knicks could get a star in Kevin Love. While he isn’t necessarily what he used to be, he’s still a star in this league who can rebound the ball and shoot it well. While he won’t necessarily be the face of your franchise, he can serve as someone to attract other players to your team. New York’s biggest draw is the market: stars want to play there, and it’s easier to want to play there if you have a surefire elite teammate on your squad. Love could be the foundation piece for future star culture in New York City.
The Knicks would send out Julius Randle and Kevin Knox as the centerpieces of this trade. Julius Randle is a solid player who can stuff the stat sheet while Knox is a developing young wing. Perhaps both players would do better in a new environment and need a fresh start. Knox especially is still young, and could still follow through on his potential. This trade is a good return for an aging star in Kevin Love and would allow the Cavaliers to bring in some younger faces to their roster.