1. Kevin Love, PF/C – $28.9 million
Kevin Love has been a buyout target for the last couple of years as an aging veteran on a team surrounded with budding talent. Last year, the Cleveland Cavaliers drafted Evan Mobley third overall, who nearly just took home the Rookie of the Year after averaging over 15 points, 8 rebounds, 2 assists and 2 blocks per game.
They also just re-signed 2022 All-Star center, Jarrett Allen, to a five-year $100 million deal and have tons of depth in the frontcourt with Lauri Markkanen, Isaiah Mobley, Robin Lopez and Dean Wade, to name a few. All of whom are on far friendlier contracts compared to Love’s $28.9 million owed in guaranteed money.
So, with Love entering the final year of his lofty contract, it feels like a foregone conclusion that the five-time All-Star will be one of the bigger names getting bought out next season.
There’s an extremely good chance that the Cavs will look to give more minutes to Evan Mobley, who just had a monster rookie campaign. Plus, the team could be in even deeper financial trouble if they end up bringing back Collin Sexton, who remains a free agent. Leading me to believe that it could be mutually beneficial for both parties to part ways in 2023.
However, I find it hard to believe that any other team will be willing to cough up nearly $30 million for Love’s services, who’s about to turn 34 years old in September. Which means that he should pass through waivers and become an unrestricted free agent, at which point the Denver Nuggets could find themselves in a bidding war. Which is a whole other problem in and of itself.
Denver won’t have a ton to work with cap wise, so, their argument for Kevin is simple; what other championship contender can offer you a better role? The Denver Nuggets just signed veteran center DeAndre Jordan and they’ll be getting Zeke Nnaji back at full strength as well. However, Jordan is coming off the worst statistical season of his NBA career and Nnaji has never played big minutes at the center position.
This means that Love could easily slide in as Nikola Jokic’s primary back up, and even play alongside Jokic at the four in certain lineups. Sure, he’s no longer the Kevin Love of old, who was at one point averaging over 26 points and 12 rebounds per game. Although, he’s still a career 37 percent three-point shooter and his floor-spacing ability alone would be perfect for Denver.
At the end of the day, if Kevin Love makes it through waivers without an offer, then the choice is up to him. He could join his old teammate, LeBron James, in LA or maybe even Kyrie in Brooklyn, but neither is as close to an NBA championship as the Denver Nuggets.