Cleveland reportedly agreed to a three-team trade Friday to acquire forward Lauri Markkanen from the Bulls, sending forward Larry Nance Jr. to the Trail Blazers. (The Bulls received small forward Derrick Jones Jr. and some picks.)
The addition of Markkanen to a Cavs frontcourt that already includes center Jarrett Allen and rookie forward/center Evan Mobley makes Love expendable. He again spent much of last season on the injured list and didn’t fare all that well when he played, averaging career-lows in points and rebounds.
The Cavs have been unsuccessful in attempts to trade Love and after reportedly informing him that he would likely come off the bench, have moved on to the potential of a buyout.
“An NBA source told me the Cavs were making progress toward a buyout for Love, who has two years and $60 million left on his contract,” Pluto wrote. “The source admitted it could fall apart and it’s not close to a done deal.”
Either way, the addition of Markannen moves Love further down the depth chart, even with Nance off to Portland. Markannen is younger than Love, taller than Love, and offers similar scoring ability from the perimeter.
While the Cavs may want a buyout, Love would still have to agree to one. That proposition remains iffy, though it is believed Love would like to move on to a contender, as former Pistons forward Blake Griffin did with the Nets last season, or even as former Cavs center Andre Drummond (now with the 76ers) did with the Lakers.
Love, 32, averaged 12.2 points, 7.4 rebounds and 2.5 assists, shooting just 41 percent from the field. A calf strain limited him to just 25 games.
He then withdrew from the U.S. men’s basketball roster this summer because of poor play and the lingering calf issue.
While teams such as the Warriors, Pelicans and others expressed minimal interest after the season, an opposing general manager recently told Hoops Wire that there is currently “no market” for Love.
His poor showing at Team USA camp only hindered the possibility of a trade.
“I didn’t think Kevin Love was going to play,” Team USA director Jerry Colangelo said. “I wasn’t even sure he had much left to play. He reached out to us and said he was in shape and said he felt he owed us. And on the basis of that, we’re looking at someone with international experience which at one time was a heck of a rebounder and could still shoot the ball.
“You know, being like a 12th man on a roster. Well, it didn’t work out. He wasn’t in shape. And he was way behind as it turned out. So you move on. Call it a mistake. Call it giving someone an opportunity. Someone who had equity with us.”