Of ESPN’s top thirty players in the NBA in 2017, an astounding fourteen have been traded or signed elsewhere and now play for a different team.
Players are jumping from one organization to another. Stars are on the move. Kevin Love should be next.
The 6’10 power forward is still a star in today’s NBA. His 2019 NBA season was cut short after a toe injury four games into the season kept him out of the next 60 games, but in his 16 starts with the Cavs post-surgery, Love led arguably the worst team in the league to a 7-9 record, averaging 18.1 points and 11.3 rebounds per game in those games.
Now, it is time for the Cleveland Cavaliers to go “All In” on a full rebuild. Love is a quality player, but the Cavs need to tank. Owner Dan Gilbert and General Manager Koby Altman must figure out a way to flip Kevin Love for solid young players and draft picks to stock up for the future.
He is no longer “Minnesota Kevin Love.” That Kevin Love is gone. But Love can still be a viable third option on a championship team. In a league that is now wide open for the taking as a result of recent moves, there are teams out there looking to add a third star.
Enter the Portland Trailblazers.
A team that has been towards the top of the West in consecutive years, the Blazers could use Kevin Love to move the needle against the rest of the West. A trio of Damian Lillard, CJ McCollum, and Kevin Love could put up a fight against the best teams in the league.
The cost would not be too high. The Blazers would receive Kevin Love, and the Cavaliers would take Kent Bazemore, Zach Collins, Nassir Little, and the Blazers 2020 first-round pick.
The Cavs would receive a decent haul for the 31-year old. Because Love is signed to make $120 million in the next four seasons, the Blazers would use swingman Kent Bazemore’s $19 million contract to match salaries. Bazemore wouldn’t see many minutes on the rebuilding Cavaliers but would hit the free agent market in the following season.
The real sweeteners for the Cavs are Zach Collins and Nassir Little. Collins is expected to play increased minutes for the Blazers this coming season with the injury to Jusuf Nurkic. The 7’0 center has shown flashes of solid play, protecting the rim on one end and shooting 33.1% from beyond the arc on the other end. The Cavs could use youth at the big man position, with Tristan Thompson and John Henson both free agents next summer.
Nassir Little is the main reason the Cavs should pull the trigger on this trade. Not only are they shorthanded at the wing position with just Cedi Osman, but Little showed potential at UNC, falling to the Blazers at the 25th pick. The 6’6 wing has a good frame and is extremely versatile on the defensive end, his calling card. He can pick up quicker guards or bigger forwards and lock them down.
Little also showcased his athleticism at UNC and the Summer League and is only 19 years old. He will have to work on his outside shot, but most rookies come into the league with the same problem: adjusting to the NBA three-point line.
Coming off the Blazers bench, Little may not have time to fully adapt to the NBA and polish his skills on a Western Conference contender. However, on a rebuilding team like the Cavaliers, the former Tarheel would have time to develop into a solid contributor.
The Blazers 2020 first-round pick would be used to sweeten the deal for the Cavaliers, who could use the pick to find talent late in the draft.
Kevin Love’s name has been in trade rumors since he got to Cleveland. He loves it there, but it’s time for the five-time All Star to play for a contending team and try to win his second championship.
Free Kevin Love.