ESPN Sources: Kevin Love and the Cleveland Cavaliers have completed a contract buyout. The Miami Heat are a frontrunner to sign Love, but he plans to talk to the Philadelphia 76ers before making a decision. pic.twitter.com/9YKux1Svj2
— Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) February 18, 2023
The buyout loomed as a strong possibility after the 34-year-old Love was removed from the Cavaliers’ rotation. The veteran was in the final year of a $120 million deal with the Cavaliers.
Love seems to be looking to join a team with a solid shot at winning an NBA title. The 76ers currently have the third-best record in the Eastern Conference at 38-19, while the Miami Heat have the seventh-best mark in the conference at 32-27.
The five-time All-Star is reportedly “strongly considering” a move to the Heat.
“Kevin Love and the Cleveland Cavaliers have completed a buyout of his contract, and the five-time All-Star is strongly considering a move to the Miami Heat, two people with knowledge of the matter said Saturday,” wrote Tim Reynolds and Tom Withers.
If Love ends up joining the 76ers, he’ll be added to a team that includes center Joel Embiid and guard James Harden. Embiid has been an MVP contender in recent seasons, an award that Harden has previously won.
The Heat have struggled this season, but the team’s recent history shows that it could be a danger for other teams in the postseason. It managed to reach the NBA Finals in 2020 and got to the Eastern Conference finals last season.
Love’s departure ends his turbulent time with the Cavaliers that began when he was acquired in 2014 from the Minnesota Timberwolves. That acquisition came during the same offseason in which LeBron James returned to play for the Cavaliers.
During the four years that Love and James played together, the Cavaliers managed to reach the Finals each season. In 2016, the Cavs pulled off a historic comeback in the Finals to defeat the Golden State Warriors in seven games.
However, injury issues have plagued Love for most of his time with the Cavaliers. Such problems have limited his effectiveness on the court, which has often meant delivering a double-double on a regular basis.
Earlier this week, there had been speculation that the defending champion Warriors might be interested in adding Love. However, the Warriors are currently struggling to simply reach the postseason with the ninth-best record in the Western Conference.
There’s also no indication that Love plans on reuniting with James, who left in 2018 to play for the Los Angeles Lakers. That’s because the path to the postseason is even dicier for the Lakers.
Regardless of where Love ends up, Cavaliers fans will always have positive memories of his 34-point quarter in November 2016 against the Portland Trail Blazers and shutdown defense during the final minute of the 2016 NBA Finals.