When Channing Frye shot off a tweet Sunday night expressing his desire for his former teammate Kevin Love to end up on the Portland Trail Blazers, the Internet was intrigued. Was this just a bored Frye thinking out loud? Or has Love expressed some desire to be moved to a contender as the Cavs continue to rebuild?
Whatever Frye’s motive, it’s not hard to imagine Love informing the Cavs, either before the 2019-2020 campaign begins or near the trade deadline, that he’d like to finish out his career playing for a playoff-caliber team. The Cavs are still multiple seasons away from legitimately contending for anything, and buy that time, Love will be on downside of his career. With that in mind, here are a few trades that intrigue is, and how the Cavs could get the most from trading their most talented player.
Portland gets: Kevin Love
Cleveland gets: Zach Collins, Nassir Little, Kent Bazemore, Future 1st round pick
It feels like the Trail Blazers have been running in place with the Dame Lillard-CJ McCollum duo for years now. The presence of Jusuf Nurkic pushed them to the peak of their powers last season, and losing him for the postseason was a huge blow. But even healthy, Nurkic probably doesn’t push the Blazers to the top of the West. Adding Love would not only break the staleness of the locker room, but it would add a dynamic talent to play off the Blazers’ elite backcourt.
The Cavs get to add another rookie wing to their stout draft class, get Zach Collins as he settles into his own and a future first rounder, likely in the mid-20s. The Blazers just flipped Evan Turner for Kent Bazemore, presumably for insurance on the wing, but it’s possible they added him because he may be slightly more valuable in salary matching than Turner and would come off Cleveland’s books in 2020.
Oklahoma City gets: Kevin Love
Cleveland gets: Steven Adams, Terrence Ferguson, and Hamidou Diallo
A team with Russell Westbrook and Paul George shouldn’t be bowing out of the playoffs in the first round, but that’s what happened to the Thunder in the last two postseasons. Love not only adds a presence to play through in the post and stellar passing ability, but his ability to step out and hit the three would give Westbrook and George the spacing they desperately need to operate at full capacity. For the Cavs, getting their hands on young wings like Ferguson and Diallo and seeing what they have in them would be the crux of the deal, while Adams would add the rim protection the Cavs aren’t getting from anyone outside of Tristan Thompson.
Charlotte gets: Kevin Love
Cleveland gets: Nicolas Batum, Miles Bridges, 2020 1st round pick
If the Hornets re-sign Kemba Walker they have to do something to build a playoff team around him in the immediate future. A Walker-Love duo, health willing, would give them a playoff floor for the foreseeable future and, while expensive, give them a pair of All-Star caliber players signed long-term, which doesn’t happen in Charlotte. Getting off Batum’s contract would be great and, with a number of expirings going into the summer of 2020, they could theoretically be an interesting destination for wings around a Walker-Love tandem. The Cavs get what would likely end up with a mid-first round pick in 2020 as well as a talented young forward that is a better fit for their timetable going forward in Miles Bridges. The Batum contract will go off the books in 2021 when they’d be more likely to be thinking about being a player in free agency, and he can still provide some production on the wing, even if it doesn’t match up to his salary.
Denver gets: Kevin Love
Cleveland gets: Will Barton, Michael Porter Jr., Mason Plumlee
This is wholly dependent on what happens with Paul Millsap this summer, as it seems he’s likely to get re-signed by Denver even if they turn down his $30 million team option on him. If he stays, it seems unlikely they go after Love, but should they see Love as an upgrade, this seems like the pathway to a deal. The Nuggets are overflowing with wings, so while shipping out talent like Barton and Porter Jr. might give them pause, keeping guys like Gary Harris, Torrey Craig and Malik Beasley should help soften that blow. After a banner regular season, the Nuggets needed seven games to escape the Spurs in the first round of the playoffs before eventually going down in seven to the Blazers in the semis. Adding Love alongside Nikola Jokic would give the Nuggets perhaps the best passing big men duo in the NBA, and Love’s playoff and championship experience would help steady a Denver team that’s still incredibly young. Meanwhile, the Cavs can slot in Barton right away and take a chance on Porter Jr.’s health and upside.