The buyout market has been generous to the Brooklyn Nets in 2021, allowing them an avenue to acquire both Blake Griffin and LaMarcus Aldridge without hemorrhaging assets or heaps of cash.
And even though Aldridge retired after playing in only five games for the Nets, Griffin has thrived as a role player since arriving in Brooklyn.
Could the Nets’ success in capitalizing off buyouts bleed into the 2021 offseason? It’s a relevant question considering another veteran star appears to be approaching a fork in the road with his current team.
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Could Kevin Love Be on Nets’ Radar for Next Season?
Kevin Love, the five-time All-Star, is in his seventh season with the Cleveland Cavaliers. But the relationship between the two sides appeared to reach a boiling point Monday when a frustrated Love batted an inbounds pass to the other team, prompting one of the broadcast’s announcers to say, “What is Kevin Love doing out there?”
The reaction on social media was predictable.
If “I hate it here” was a person🤣🤣🤣 https://t.co/rA5wJ3jkoF
— Brendan Haywood (@bwood_33) April 27, 2021
kevin love: pic.twitter.com/SWxxwOjOCg
— alex (@steven_lebron) April 27, 2021
Kevin Love said pic.twitter.com/bcW9wNUTEe
— Jasmine (@JasmineLWatkins) April 27, 2021
Still, Rob Perez on Twitter provided some important context to the play. Love had hurt his knee earlier in the game, then got pushed in the back and didn’t draw a foul as his frustration with the refs mounted. After batting the inbounds pass to the Raptors, he hustled back on defense on the next possession.
context of the Kevin Love video currently making the rounds:
• Love hurts his knee with ~2 minutes remaining in the quarter
• Love frustrated with refs shortly after that he got pushed in the back and there was no call
• Love hustled back the next defensive possession pic.twitter.com/dWtstppU4x
— Rob Perez (@WorldWideWob) April 27, 2021
And after the game, Love apologized to the team, according to Yahoo Sports’ Chris Haynes, who added that the Cavs are addressing the matter internally.
Cleveland Cavaliers are addressing the Kevin Love matter internally but the team is focused on turning the page with the forward having apologized last night, league sources tell @YahooSports.
— Chris Haynes (@ChrisBHaynes) April 27, 2021
Still, all of that might not matter at this point, according to one reporter who covers the team.
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Cavs Reporter Thinks Love Could Be on His Way out of Cleveland
Jason Lloyd, who covers the Cavs for The Athletic, headlined his most recent article: “It might be time for the Cavs, Kevin Love to part ways.”
Lloyd detailed Love’s tenuous relationship with the Cavs in his story, and then got to spelling out where he thinks all of this is headed:
If this were an isolated incident, what happened Monday might not have blown up like it has. It’s all of the other events preceding Monday between Love and the Cavs that have brought us here.
Ultimately, both sides might agree to a buyout. Love has about $60 million remaining on his contract over the next two years. Blake Griffin, another Jeff Schwartz client, gave back $13 million of the $75 million owed to him to get out of Detroit. If Love wants to give back $10 million or $15 million, the Cavs might accommodate him and send him on his way. They can stretch the money owed to him, and it certainly wouldn’t be the first time Dan Gilbert has paid people not to work for him.
A Kyrie-Love Reunion in Brooklyn?
In December 2020, Love told Forbes: “When I was 18 years old, I had written down in a notebook that I wanted to own an apartment and live in New York by the time I was 30.”
Earlier in 2020, Love saw his New York dreams come to fruition when he moved into a three-bedroom apartment in a brand-new waterfront construction in Tribeca.
Barclays Center is just a stone’s throw away.
And then there’s what joining the Nets would mean for Love as far as reuniting with Kyrie Irving, who was teammates with Love on the Cavs from 2014-17, including their 2016 run to the NBA title.
Lloyd wrote in December that “”Love and Irving were never particularly close during their time together. Most players on those Cavs teams grew tired of Irving’s stunts, such as not talking to anyone at practice.”
That analysis came on the heels of Irving’s decision earlier this season not to talk to reporters, whom he referred to as “pawns.” (Irving has since gone back on that decision and regularly talks with the media.)
Love took objection to “pawns,” calling it a “sure sign of disrespect.”
“I understand where Kyrie is coming from in trying to better a number of people’s lives, but I’m just not a divisive person, so that’s where I stand on that,” Love said, via Spencer Davies of Basketball News. “I love Kyrie. I know he’s changed, (don’t know) what’s going on, but again I’m just not a divisive person. I believe everybody has a part to play, so long as the intent’s there and it comes from a good place.”
— Spencer Davies (@SpinDavies) December 11, 2020
It’s clear Love still has a ton of respect for Irving; earlier this month, he told USA Today that a Finals between Irving’s Nets and LeBron James’ Lakers would “be one for the ages.”
‘It’d be one for the ages’: Kevin Love on potential Kyrie vs. LeBron. pic.twitter.com/5A6NhqpT3X
— HoopsHype (@hoopshype) April 19, 2021
The real question when it comes to a Love-to-Brooklyn scenario, of course, concerns how Love would blend with next season’s Nets. The 6-foot-8 power forward is no longer the yearly All-Star he was in his prime, but like Griffin, he could be valuable in a lesser role for a contender like Brooklyn.
Love, 32, has averaged 18.1 points and 11.0 rebounds in 731 games over his NBA career, but those figures are down to 11.7 and 6.4 in 18 games this season for Cleveland.
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