NBA Free Agents 2015: Five Reasons Kevin Love Will Opt Out of Contract With Cleveland Cavaliers
It's been more than a week since the Golden State Warriors defeated the Cleveland Cavaliers in the 2015 NBA Finals four games to two.
Cavaliers fans can only wonder "what if" as their starting power forward Kevin Love missed the entire series because of a shoulder injury he sustained against the Boston Celtics in the first round of the playoffs. Speaking of Love, he has a $16.7 million player option if he chooses to return to the Cavaliers.
That's a lot of money, but here are five reasons Love will opt out.
Why on Earth would anybody turn down a guaranteed $16.7 million? One word: security. Love can choose to exercise his player option for next season and remain with the Cavaliers, but that offers no long term safety whatsoever. If Love gets injured (again), he will lose so much money for his next contract heading into the 2016-17 NBA season. He can choose to opt in and bet on himself, but that would be a very risky decision to make. The ideal choice for Love would be to sign a new multimillion dollar contract elsewhere for at least four years.
2. Location, Location, Location
Cleveland really has dedicated sports fans, especially considering their fans haven't witnessed a professional sports championship since Lyndon Johnson was president. But, Love has a chance to really brand himself here. He will never get the recognition of other big names as long as he remains in Cleveland. Shaquille O'Neal was big in Orlando, but became an icon overnight in Los Angeles after signing with the local team in 1996. Love has the opportunity to make a lot of money elsewhere in a big basketball loving city this offseason. One of the biggest reasons Carmelo Anthony is with the New York Knicks is because of location.
3. Playing Time
Even if Love does opt in, and later restructures a new long term deal with the Cavaliers, it still doesn't set up a great future. Why is that? Tristan Thompson played terrific during the playoffs with his offensive rebounding. LeBron James (who is viewed as the Cavaliers' general manager) has said numerous times that he wants the team to re-sign Thompson moving forward. If Love wants to make a big name for himself, get a lot of shots, and increase his playing time, Cleveland may not be the best place for him.
4. Big Market
Love holds most of the cards in this deck, and there's no reason for him to fold early. Opting back in would guaranteed him big money for one year, but there are a lot of teams that have shown interest in Love. The Los Angeles Lakers lead that discussion. Other clubs such as the Knicks, Dallas Mavericks and Miami Heat could make a run at Love as well. No matter which team signs him (if Love opts out), Love has a lot of teams that could use him heading into next year. The bottom line here is Love has a lot of great financial options if he opts out.
5. Better Play it Safe
For a team that was just in the NBA Finals, there really is a lot drama and controversy going on. James has a $21.5 million player option heading into next season, and he is expected to opt out and back in to get max money. ESPN's Stephen A. Smith has said that it wouldn't be surprising at all if James left after this upcoming season, stunning Cleveland fans once again. Head coach David Blatt has been under extreme criticism, and many think he could be replaced after just one season. On top of that, Kyrie Irving's injuries have been piling up. J.R. Smith is also expected to opt out of his contract this offseason. Numerous reports have already indicated that the Cavaliers are leaning towards a sign and trade this offseason regarding Love.
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