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Cleveland Cavaliers: How the team can trade Kevin Love

Taking a look at how the Cleveland Cavaliers can trade Kevin Love, while gaining some valuable assets in return 

There is a lot of speculation that the Cleveland Cavaliers gave Kevin Love a contract extension worth $120 million over four years to increase his trade value. Tim Bontemps, formerly of the Washington Post, added fuel to this theory late last month by writing the following:

“With that in mind, keep an eye on Kevin Love as the potential first major trade chip to be moved in the non-Jimmy Butler category. Yes, Love signed a long-term extension with Cleveland this summer. But as Blake Griffin showed last year, that just means he could be more attractive to another team as a trade chip.”

However, one can argue that the chances of this theory coming to fruition have significantly lowered as Kevin Love underwent left toe surgery last week to alleviate pain that affected his ability to walk. The operation will force him to miss at least five more weeks of action.

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Unfortunately, this is not the first time that Love has been sidelined with an injury as he has missed 57 regular season games with various ailments in four-plus seasons as a member of the Cleveland Cavaliers.

A prime example of these various ailments was when Love missed 12 games during the 2016-17 season due to arthroscopic surgery on his left knee to remove loose bodies. Love’s body continued to break down the following season as he suffered a non-displaced fracture in his left hand forcing him to miss 19 games.

Kevin Love’s injury history in combination with the value of his contract will make it hard for them to get significant assets back a trade. The only way for the Cleveland Cavaliers to acquire valuable assets is to engage in trade talks with teams who have no cap space next off-season to add a superstar or fix the supporting cast around their star.

A prime example of this would be the Detroit Pistons who are currently scheduled to be $3.7 million over the cap next summer. Therefore, it will be difficult for them to add shooting around Blake Griffin because they can only offer minimum contracts to free agents. Consequently, they might offer Andre Drummond to the Cavaliers in exchange for Kevin Love.

It wouldn’t take Kevin Love a long time to get adjusted to the Pistons as they are running a LeBron James type offense with Blake Griffin. Blake dribbles the ball to the 3-point line and analyzes the entire defense. If one of the defenders is sagging off a shooter, he will pass the basketball to the shooter for an open 3-pointer.

On the other hand, if everyone stays home, he will study everything about his defender to determine the next course of action. If the defender decided to sag off of him, Blake would take the open jumper. But, if the defender played him tight, he will attempt to drive towards the basket for a score, to draw a foul or attract a double team.

Distance is not the only aspect of the defense that Blake analyzes as he also pays attention to the size of his defender. If he has a smaller defender, Blake will back him down into the post to score or throw a cross-court pass to a teammate behind the arc.

Therefore, Kevin Love would slide into the same role he had as a teammate of LeBron, a stretch power forward. Love experienced plenty of success in the role during his four seasons with LeBron as he shot 38.3 percent on catch and shoot 3’s.

The Cavaliers would receive a 25-year-old center with 1.5 years left on his contract and a player option for the 2020-21 season. Drummond’s contract structure would open up roughly $2.5 million in cap space if he decides to opt into the player option. On the other hand, if he declines the player option, the Cavaliers would have at least $90 million in cap space to acquire players during that summer.

Not only would Andre Drummond give the Cavaliers extra financial flexibility but he would also be a good fit in their offensive system. Cleveland is featuring a good amount of dribble handoffs as they rank 8th in the league in dribble handoff possessions averaging 7.6 a game.

The dribble handoff just so happens to be the play that unlocked the playmaking abilities of Andre Drummond. According to the Ringer, his former head coach Stan Van Gundy would make him the focal point of the dribble handoffs:

” At the heart of the Pistons’ resurgence is Drummond’s embrace of the dribble handoff. It functions more or less like a standard pick-and-roll, but it inverts the power dynamic, enabling Drummond to make reads out on the perimeter for his guards and wings, not unlike the way Terry Stotts deploys Jusuf Nurkic (and previously, Mason Plumlee) within the Blazers offense. By eschewing post-ups almost entirely and placing Drummond at the top of the arc, Van Gundy has MacGyvered a pseudo-five-out offense where Drummond’s nonexistent shooting is nullified by using him as the spearhead of an attack. Pulling Drummond so far away from the hoop allows off-ball specialists like Bradley to work their magic in open space”.

Another logical trade partner would be the Miami Heat as they will be $25.6 million over the cap next summer but are looking to acquire a brand name in hopes of raising their ceiling as a team. Furthermore, the brand name they were chasing is no longer available as Jimmy Butler was traded to the Philadelphia 76ers this past Saturday.

Consequently, it leaves Kevin Love and potentially John Wall as the two brand names most likely to be traded during the season. Therefore, the Heat could offer Josh Richardson and James Johnson or Justise Winslow and Goran Dragic for Love.

Even though it would be an awful trade for Miami due to Love’s recent injury history, I could see the organization making the deal because it gives them the brand name they are searching for. On the other hand, the Cavaliers would market Winslow/Richardson along with Colin Sexton as the foundation of their new young core.

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