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Kevin Love has played solid basketball in a limited role this season, making it possible the Cleveland Cavaliers can move him ahead of the Feb. 10 trade deadline.
ESPN’s Brian Windhorst said on his podcast Brian Windhorst & The Hoop Collective that Love has developed a “bad reputation” around the league over his attitude but has worked to rectify that this season:
“Love has gotten such a bad reputation—and he’s earned it for the last couple of years, with the way he’s pouted and everything and some of his on-court antics. When they drafted a big man [Evan Mobley] and then they signed another one with [Lauri] Markkanen, they told Love, ‘Hey, you’re gonna go to the bench,’ and Love said, ‘OK, but I want to make a deal. The deal is, if I earn minutes, you play me those minutes. In other words, don’t John Wall me.'”
Windhorst said that while the Cavs can’t trade Love for anything of value, he’s not the deal-breaking albatross he was during the offseason. He is making $31.3 million this season and $28.9 million in 2022-23, the final year of his contract.
Cleveland has been mentioned as a potential suitor for Ben Simmons with Love’s contract likely included for matching purposes. The Sixers wouldn’t take Love as a centerpiece in any Simmons deal, but it’s possible they could reroute him to a third team that picks up assets as part of a larger swap.
Love is averaging 12.8 points, 7.4 rebounds and 2.0 assists while playing 20.0 minutes per game. He’s embraced coming off the bench regularly for the first time since his second NBA season while also not showing any of the behavioral issues of the past few years.
Frustrated with Cleveland’s losing ways, Love had several on-court outbursts and clashed with members of the front office. He was also sent home from Team USA over the summer and received criticism from managing director Jerry Colangelo.
The Cavs are a surprising 20-13 this season, which likely helped pick up his spirits. If Love continues to play at a high level, the Cavs have no incentive to move him—barring a need for a matching salary in a trade for a star-caliber player.