ESPN insider predicts Cavs trade Kevin Love, Kyle Korver by the deadline
According to ESPN‘s Zach Lowe, the Cleveland Cavaliers will trade both Kevin Love and Kyle Korver by the trade deadline (February 7th, 3 p.m. ET). While it should be noted that a large portion of Lowe’s text seems like speculation, his rationale falls in line with what many have said since the offseason.
Lowe predicts that Love will only be traded if the Cavaliers find themselves out of playoff contention. However, he also mentions that one of the reasons Love signed to a contract extension was to increase his trade value (which doesn’t seem to be speculation).
The Cavs signed Love to that fat four-year, $120 million extension because he is a very good basketball player. They also did it to increase his trade value. If the Cavs are too far behind the No. 8 spot around the trade deadline, it would be natural to pivot into tank mode and investigate Love’s market. (Remember: Cleveland owes Atlanta a top-10 protected pick.) If no deal emerges, they could revisit things in the offseason.
In all the excitement from the Cleveland faithful who were glad to see Love’s talent and sacrifice awarded with a near-max contract, fans may have forgotten that like with any NBA team, their star player could still be traded no matter what mutual respect the two parties have for one another. In this case, although Cavs general manager Koby Altman has said he doesn’t want to trade Love, that doesn’t mean that they haven’t already tried over the years (and we know they have) or that he would not trade Love.
However, Lowe has long noted that there’s a significant gap between the value Cleveland has expected to get in a trade for Love and his value to other teams. That said, Lowe believes that the Cavaliers could net a first-rounder and some interesting pieces for their five-time All-Star.
Here’s a trade he proposed featuring the Charlotte Hornets:
They should not expect great return. Love just turned 30. That salary is huge, even if it drops by $2.5 million in 2022-23 (provided Earth has not melted by then). But there will always be some desperate team willing to give up an interesting rotation guy and middling first-round pick for an All-Star. How about Bismack Biyombo, Jeremy Lamb, and an unprotected Charlotte first-rounder? That doesn’t sound great, but there won’t be a Love motherlode.
As for Korver, who considered retirement in the offseason, Lowe simply believes that the Cavaliers should give him a shot on a championship-contender as a show of good faith.
Interestingly enough, the team that Lowe proposes Korver be traded to is a team that was linked to the 37-year-old sharpshooter in the offseason:
A Korver trade should happen even if Cleveland exceeds expectations. Give him a shot at a ring! The $3.4 million Korver is guaranteed next season could be an obstacle, but that can be negotiated. How about Korver to Philly for Jerryd Bayless and a second-round pick? A reunion with Budenholzer in Milwaukee might require a buyout; the Bucks have little to deal.
I’m not a fan of this specific Korver trade, as trading a rotation player for a third-string point guard and a second-round pick doesn’t seem to help Cleveland. However, the idea that Korver would be traded isn’t far-fetched considering how often teams have traded or waived veteran players around the trade or buyout deadline in order for them to get the chance to pursue a ring.
For all of Korver’s accomplishments and longevity, he has yet to win a ring. It might be impossible to find a player who doesn’t want to win a championship before they retire.