ABOUT KEVIN LOVE
The Cavaliers don’t plan to trade Kevin Love?
That’s what Cavs General Manager Koby Altman told the media at the Las Vegas Summer League. His point was the team “doesn’t get better” by dealing love.
That could be true.
But even if the Cavs were seriously considering dealing Love, why tell the media? That’s not a smart way to negotiate a trade.
I talked to a well-known NBA executive about what the Cavs will do with their All-Star forward now that LeBron James has signed with the Los Angeles Lakers.
“Unless they get blown away by an offer, I think they’ll open the season with Love,” said the executive.
Love is in the final season of his $24 million contract. He has a player option of $25.6 million in 2019-2020.
Unless Love suffers a cataclysmic injury, odds are he’ll skip the player option and become a free agent in the summer of 2019.
The Cave are rebuilding. So why not just deal Love right now? He turns 30 on Sept. 7.
“Because I think he’ll be more in demand during the season by the trading deadline,” said the executive. “Kevin could have a very good year for the Cavs being the focal point of the offense. He is a talented player.”
The 6-foot-10 Love averaged 17.6 points and 9.0 rebounds last season. He made the All-Star team.
The executive said Love’s presence will help rookie point guard Collin Sexton, Jordan Clarkson and the other Cavs who like to drive to the rim.
Love has 3-point shooting range (41 percent last season). He also is a good passer.
Now that Kyrie Irving and James are gone, Love is the only proven scorer and should have the opportunity to take more shots and show all of his varied skills.
“He remains an excellent defensive rebounder,” said the executive. “That also will help the younger players.”
The executive’s point wasn’t that the Cavs should keep Love all season and try to find a way into the playoffs, “unless they don’t get much of an offer for Love.”
Love getting off to a good start in 2018-19 could increase his trade value as the mid-season deadline approaches. That could lead to a deal where the Cavs are able to add a promising young player and a first-round pick.
The executive said Love could be very appealing to a team needing a star to make the playoffs…or advance deeper in the post-season. That’s especially true in the Eastern Conference, where more teams have post-season dreams since James went West to the Lakers.
“The only downside would be if Love had a major injury,” said the executive.
That is a concern. Love missed 22 games in 2016-17 and 23 games in 2017-18. He missed games in the 2017 and 2018 playoffs with concussions.
He was injured during the first round of the 2015 playoffs and needed shoulder surgery.
So that’s something else the Cavs have to consider.
Right now, I’m guessing Love opens the season with the Cavs – but probably is on another team at the end of the season.
ABOUT COLLIN SEXSON
I talked to several NBA executives this week.
I heard Chicago had Sexton rated highly. If Duke’s Wendell Carter Jr. had not fallen to the Bulls at No. 7, they probably would have picked the Alabama point guard.
Chicago’s starting point guard Zach LaVine is a talented player and a restricted free agent. He signed a 4-year, $78 million offer sheet from Sacramento.
The Bulls also have Kris Dunn at point guard.
So maybe they would not have taken Sexton. But I do know he was under serious consideration by Chicago — which had hoped Carter would fall to No. 7.
The Cavs drafted Sexton at No. 8.
Another executive told me, “Our basketball people loved Sexton. Our analytics people had some doubts because of his outside shooting. I side with the basketball people on Sexton.”
Sexton shot only .336 from 3-point range. The NBA has become a 3-point obsessed league, which is why some teams had doubts about the 6-foot-2 guard.
Other teams (like the Cavs) love Sexton’s athleticism, his speed and his excellent character and willingness to be coached.
Sexton had 15 points. He was 4-of-12 shooting, 6-of-6 from the foul line and had seven rebounds.
ABOUT THE DRAFT
1. The Cavs 2019 first round draft pick belongs to Atlanta. But it’s protected, 1-10. That means if the pick falls in the top 10, the Cavs keep it for 2019. This pick went to Atlanta as part of the Kyle Korver deal in 2017.
2. When discussing the Cavs situation with several executives from other teams, they circled back to that pick. Suppose the Cavs finish 32-50. They miss the playoffs. But they end up with the No. 11 pick — which goes to Atlanta. That doesn’t help the rebuild.
3. One executive said the Cavs should either go for the playoffs — or go with the young guys and set up the chances to have a top 10 pick. Try not to be caught in the middle.
4. I hear the Cavs are looking to move Korver. He has a contract for $7.5 million this season. In 2019-2020, he also has a $7.5 million deal with $3.4 million guaranteed.
5. Korver would help the Lakers, who need shooters to surround LeBron James. But they keep adding iffy outside shooters: Rajon Rondo, Lance Stephenson and JaVale McGee. So who knows what they are planning.
6. One of my favorite young Cavs players is Ante Zizic. The 6-foot-11 center had a terrific summer league debut with 16 points and 14 rebounds. He has classic big man skills near the basket.
7. Cedi Osman came out shooting in Las Vegas. He scored 15 points on 5-of-15 shooting. He was 1-of-6 on 3-pointers. Osman plays a terrific floor game. He had 10 rebounds, four steals and three assists.
8. I will be talking Cavs and everything else Cleveland sports at the Green Library, Monday at 6:30 p.m. My next appearance is Tuesday, July 17, at 6:30 p.m. at the Burton Library. There events are Free!