Kevin Love trade rumors: Blazers reportedly offered Hassan Whiteside, Kent Bazemore for Cavaliers star

The Cleveland Cavaliers acquired Andre Drummond in a salary dump before the Feb. 6 trade deadline, and it sounds like the offers on the table for their own highly paid former All-Star were similar. Big man Kevin Love, who is making $28.9 million this year and has three years and $91.5 million remaining on his contract, was widely known to be available. And that contract was widely considered onerous.

According to Jason Lloyd of The Athletic, the Portland Trail Blazers were willing to take on all that money, as long as they didn’t have to give up any picks or players who they considered part of their future: They offered wing Kent Bazemore and center Hassan Whiteside to the Cavaliers, who declined because they were seeking a first-round pick. 

Bazemore and Whiteside are on expiring contracts. The Blazers ended up trading Bazemore to the Sacramento Kings in a move that brought them Trevor Ariza and reduced their luxury-tax bill. Most potential trade partners reportedly told Cleveland that, rather than giving up a pick for the privilege of acquiring Love, they expected the Cavs to include some kind of sweetener as compensation for doing so.

All of this sounds weird because Love is still a productive player. He is averaging 17.7 points, 9.8 rebounds and 3.0 assists, and his 60.2 percent true shooting percentage is the second-highest mark of his career. He has defensive limitations, sure, but if not for the contract he would have been a sought-after trade target.  

Three thoughts:

  • Love and the rebuilding Cavaliers have been in an unhappy marriage for a while. The 31-year-old naturally wants to play in meaningful games, and Cleveland naturally wants to recoup some value when it trades him. As recent stories about ex-Cavs coach John Beilein have indicated, the environment around the team this season can be described as somewhere between dysfunctional and disastrous. It is a shame that Cleveland couldn’t find a trade it deemed acceptable. I would personally like to see him on a winning team. (I don’t know if Portland is the right one, given its guards’ defensive deficiencies and the presence of Carmelo Anthony, but that’s neither here nor there.)
  • This was the risk — for both sides — when Love signed his four-year, $120 million extension in the summer of 2018, shortly after LeBron James left for the Los Angeles Lakers. The Cavs were talking a big game about being competitive without James, but everyone around the league knew that they would likely need to pivot from that plan sooner than they’d prefer. Everyone also knew that, on that kind of salary, Love would not necessarily have positive trade value over the life of the deal. 
  • Cleveland clearly made a bet that it would get better offers on draft night or in July. There is logic to that — this summer’s free-agent class isn’t great, and contenders will not have cap space, anyway. It just takes one team to decide that Love is the missing piece worth surrendering a first-round pick. I wonder, though, whether or not the Cavs will actually find that team. If they don’t, then at what point should they lower their demands? It makes sense that the Blazers’ offer wasn’t appealing, but by definition, a salary dump isn’t nothing. It is an opportunity to move on.

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