Kevin Love Committed to Cavaliers
When Kevin Love was introduced as a member of the Cleveland Cavaliers over the summer, he made it clear that his plan was to stay with the organization long-term. During his introductory press conference, he was asked about the possibility of leaving and shot down that scenario.
“That’s something that hasn’t been talked about,” Love said. “But like I told [David Griffin], Dan Gilbert and the powers to be, I’m committed to this team, committed long-term to the end goal: winning championships.”
Even with Love saying he plans to be in Cleveland for the long haul, there was still some speculation that he would leave this offseason, when he can opt out of the final year of his contract worth $16,744,218 and become an unrestricted free agent. While he is expected to opt out so that he can sign a new long-term deal, that doesn’t mean he would leave the Cavs.
However, once Cleveland started the season by dropping three of their first four games and then had a four-game losing streak shortly after, talk of Love potentially leaving picked up even more.
Sam Smith of Bulls.com wrote that Love “will seriously consider the opt out and has his eyes on a return to Los Angeles,” which got Lakers fans excited and had Cavs fans somewhat worried.
But even with the rumors, Love continues to say that he’s committed to Cleveland and that losing streaks and early struggles won’t affect his decision.
“Whether we lose two or three games in a row, or there’s a game where my statistical output isn’t necessarily what it should be, people are always going to talk,” Love told Mike and Mike of ESPN Radio. “Since I was traded to Cleveland this summer, I’ve said since day one that I’m a Cleveland Cavalier long-term and I plan for it to be that way. I want to grow with this team. There’s a lot of guys with a lot of unique talent, one-through-15, on our roster who are going to be here for a long time.
“If I could end all the speculation now, I would. But people are going to continue to talk no matter what. I just want to continue getting better with this team long term. I’m a Cleveland Cavalier.”
Love reiterated this point in an interview with the Chris Mannix Show that will air Sunday, saying: “I’m a Cavalier and I plan on being a Cavalier for a long time.”
When Love says that he would end the speculation if he could, he’s referring to signing a contract extension. However, it wouldn’t make any sense for Love to sign an extension, since doing so would only allow him to add two years onto his current contract whereas signing a new deal in free agency would make him eligible for a five-year deal. The NBA’s Collective Bargaining Agreement has essentially eliminated extensions, as it’s bad business for a player to agree to one.
Since Love won’t sign an extension and has to become a free agent in order to ink a new contract, all he can do is make it clear that he plans on staying in Cleveland long-term and shooting down these rumors as they surface.
As Steve Kyler of Basketball Insiders reported when the Love-to-L.A. rumor first surfaced, people close to Love were puzzeled at where this report came from since leaving Cleveland hasn’t been discussed.
In fact, Love and his team have put together a number of business opportunities and endorsement deals that are built around the idea of playing in Cleveland and taking advantage of the exposure the All-Star power forward will receive alongside LeBron James on arguably the NBA’s most talked about team.
Cleveland may have gotten off to a rough start, but the team has won four games in a row and shown flashes of brilliance. Last night, for example, LeBron James, Kyrie Irving and Love combined for 81 points in the Cavs’ win over the Milwaukee Bucks. The team is coming together and jelling, and they’ve climbed to fifth in the Eastern Conference despite their early issues.
The Cavaliers are already starting to turn things around and better basketball is surely ahead for them this season. And, if all goes as planned, James, Irving and Love will play their best basketball together over the next few seasons in Cleveland.
Butler Playing Himself into Max Deal?
Jimmy Butler decided not to settle for an annual salary of $11 million per season with the Chicago Bulls during extension negotiations, choosing instead to “bet on himself” and see what he could get as a restricted free agent next summer. Now, with nearly a quarter of the 2014-15 season completed, Butler looks like a genius.
The 25-year-old is having by far the best season of his career, averaging 22 points, 5.9 rebounds, 3.4 assists and 1.4 steals. He has been incredibly efficient, with a 21.9 PER, and he continues to play some of the league’s best perimeter defense.
In his first three NBA seasons, Butler was viewed as a solid role player for Chicago. Now, he has emerged as a star and arguably one of the league’s top shooting guards.
“He’s prepared himself well,” head coach Tom Thibodeau told Sean Deveney of Sporting News. “He continues to work at it. He’s playing with great intensity. He’s studying. He’s preparing. He practices hard. So I’m not surprised. When you practice well you play well, it’s really that simple.”
Now, the Bulls are probably kicking themselves for not increasing their offer to Butler during extension talks, as it seems like he could receive a max offer sheet when he hits the market in July.
“If you think you have a legitimate shot at him, you would have to come out with a max offer,” one general manager told Sporting News. “That’s the only way you’d have a chance of prying him out of Chicago, and there are a few teams that would be willing to try, sort of like what Charlotte tried with (Gordon) Hayward last summer. (Utah matched the Hornets’ max offer.) I think he stays in Chicago, but it is going to be expensive for them.”
Chicago can match any offer sheet that Butler receives since he’ll be a restricted free agent. For more on Chicago’s cap situation, check out Basketball Insiders’ in-depth breakdown of their finances.
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