Cleveland Cavaliers power forward Kevin Love will opt out of his $16.74 million contract for next season:
ESPN sources say Cavs forward Kevin Love has opted out of the final year of his contract and will be a free agent July 1
— Marc Stein (@ESPNSteinLine) June 24, 2015
There are sure to be plenty of people who overreact to this, but this is a move that was expected, and it’s the right move for Love financially.
Love has said that he plans on returning to the Cavaliers, and if he really wants to do that, he has his options. He could go ahead and sign a five-year max contract that’ll likely be on the table, even with the emergence of Tristan Thompson in the postseason. If Love simply wants the security after dealing with some major injuries over the course of his career, he could go this route.
But if Love wants to leave himself some flexibility in free agency and give himself the opportunity to maximize his earning potential, he could sign a two-year deal with a player option in the second year, like LeBron James did this past offseason. Not only would Love get more money in the first year of that kind of deal by opting out now, but then he could opt out next summer and take advantage of the salary cap explosion when it jumps up near $90 million. Or he could play out both years and become a free agent in 2017 when the cap is expected to be around $108 million.
If Love wants to leave the Cavaliers this year, he could sign a similar short deal with another team. (The Lakers, Celtics, Suns and Trail Blazers all have some reported interest.) There’s also the possibility of a sign-and-trade, and Grantland’s Zach Lowe said many NBA executives thinks that’s what will happen, but there are reasons why that wouldn’t make sense:
When looking at the scenarios, the best move for Love is to sign that short deal in Cleveland. That gives him at least another season with LeBron and a potential title-winner. If Love really doesn’t like it there, he could opt out of his deal next summer and seek out a preferred destination and make a lot more money.