For the last couple of years, Cleveland Cavaliers fans have been calling for veteran big man Kevin Love to be traded.
They did so because they felt he was too injury-prone, a defensive liability and not quite what he used to be on the offensive end.
In his early 30s, Love also didn’t line up with the timeline of a team that was forced to fully rebuild when LeBron James left town again in 2018.
But this season, he had a strong, resurgent performance, and he was a vital part of a team that was just a couple of quarters away from returning to the playoffs.
Cavs award finishes:
Evan Mobley (ROTY) – 2nd
Kevin Love (6MOY) – 2nd
Koby Altman (EOTY) – 2nd
J.B. Bickerstaff (COY) – 5th
Darius Garland (MIP) – 3rd
— Carter Rodriguez (@Carter_Shade) May 12, 2022
There are a few reasons why Cleveland should keep Love this offseason.
The Cavs were a mediocre 3-point shooting team this season, and 3-point shooting is arguably Love’s greatest strength at this point of his career.
He made 39.2 percent of his attempts from beyond the arc on 6.4 attempts a game, and his accuracy was second on the team behind only guard Rajon Rondo, who took far fewer attempts.
Big men who can hit 3-pointers are invaluable in the NBA, as they force the opposing team’s 4 or 5 to come out from near the basket or in the paint, therefore stretching the defense.
Love’s marksmanship can help open up driving lanes for Darius Garland while also giving Evan Mobley room to maneuver and score inside.
Bringing the opposing team’s big man out on the perimeter to defend Love’s outside attempts also makes it easier for players such as Mobley and Jarrett Allen to grab offensive rebounds and get the Cavs second shots, which helps them control the tempo and prevent the other team from speeding up the pace of the game.
The Cavs are one of the NBA’s youngest teams, as most of their other key players are in their early to mid-20s.
Young teams such as Cleveland are vulnerable to runs by opposing teams, scoring droughts and getting down on themselves when going through a slump or losing streak.
Love is the lone remaining player on the roster from the Cavs’ 2016 team that finally broke through and won the NBA championship.
That experience, as well as the overall experience of playing in the NBA Finals in four straight seasons, means that he knows how to play in championship games and what not to do in them.
Wisdom cannot really be taught, but it can be impressed upon young players to better prepare them for difficult situations and big games.
More than anyone else on the roster, other than Rondo, Love has gained plenty of wisdom by now.
He’s An Expiring Contract
Love has one year left on his contract, which will pay him nearly $29 million next year.
The Cavs have tried to trade him over the last couple of seasons, but that huge contract, coupled with his inability to stay healthy, made other teams recoil from the thought of actually pulling the trigger on him.
If Cleveland keeps him, his contract will come off the books next summer, when there could be some very intriguing players available on the market.
I REALLY hope Kevin Love retires a Cavalier and his #0 is hanging in the rafters
— Kwanlord (@drummond_trade) May 17, 2022
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