Rumor: The likely futures of Kevin Love, Tristan Thompson
Cavs teammates Kevin Love and Tristan Thompson have heard their names tossed about in trade scenarios for years, yet both have remained in Cleveland. Despite the fact that the 2019-20 season has been suspended due to the coronavirus pandemic, there are still questions about their futures with the team.
The Cavs decided to bring on Andre Drummond from the Pistons at this season’s trade deadline. It was a nice acquisition, and the former UConn standout has played well with his new team. However, Drummond has a player option worth $28.75 million that he will likely pick up at the end of this campaign.
If Drummond chooses to opt in, staying with the Cavs for another season, the team would have an excess of post players on big contracts. This would leave Cleveland paying more than $71 million to three frontcourt players (Drummond, Kevin Love and Larry Nance Jr.), as Chris Fedor of cleveland.com writes in his recent article. Add Thompson’s potential money into the mix and the Cavs would be shelling out a lot of dough for big men.
That scenario — Drummond picking up his option — would lead to the Cavs committing more than $71 million to three frontcourt players (Drummond, Kevin Love and Larry Nance Jr.) for 2020-21. That, alone, makes it unlikely Thompson returns. The playing time won’t be there and the financial commitment in the frontcourt would be large.
Thompson, who is an unrestricted free agent, is the longest-tenured member of the Cavs, and the team knows that he has been a valuable piece. Graciously, he slid to a bench role when Drummond arrived. Fedor notes that Cleveland would want Thompson back, but on a favorable deal. The only question is: what sort of money would it take?
Fedor suggests the most likely outcome is a sign-and-trade deal so Thompson can get paid while going to a contender.
Like Thompson, Love was with the team when it won its first championship in 2016, making him a valued member of the organization.
Earlier this season, there were reports circulating that indicated Love was not happy with John Beilein’s coaching style. It wasn’t just Love who had issues with Beilein, though. Several players were said to be unhappy. Ultimately, Beilein decided to step down in February, which led to J.B. Bickerstaff being elevated to the head coaching position.
At 19-46 overall, the Cavs have struggled to find a rhythm this season, though they were playing better under Bickerstaff. This, along with the team’s rebuild, has been a challenge for Love, who signed a four-year, $120 million extension in July 2018. Still, Cleveland isn’t going to trade him without a suitable return, according to Fedor.
As for trading Love for “peanuts,” that wont happen. The Cavs continue to value him. They don’t regret the contract extension.
Who could the Cavs get for Love that makes them better both in the short and long term? In any Love deal, they will want some combination of draft picks and young players — as unrealistic as some around the NBA view that demand.
For now, we’ll have to wait to see if the Cavs decide to trade Thompson or Love, as the season has been suspended due to ongoing concerns surrounding the coronavirus pandemic. Hopefully, play will resume sooner rather than later.