The Cleveland Cavaliers are unlikely to trade Kevin Love this summer, but the Portland Trail Blazers have reportedly inquired in the past.
Earlier this month, Bleacher Report’s Greg Swartz described trading for the Portland-born big man as “well worth the risk” for the Trail Blazers. Following this speculation, Mike Richman reported that Portland inquired about the hometown hero, but the interest was not mutual from Cleveland (via Locked on Blazers):
“Last summer, the Blazers went into the offseason with very little of value. They had a bunch of big contracts with multiple years left. They didn’t have many enticing young players to make trades, they did not have a high draft pick to do things. But the thing they did have was a fairly large trade exception that was going to expire. And they spent much of the early part of the offseason calling around to teams trying to get them to give away big contract money so they could absorb it with that trade exception. And the Blazers were willing to pay a fat luxury tax and figure it out. One of the teams that they called last summer was the Cleveland Cavaliers… At that time last summer, the Cavs told the Blazers they did not want to make that trade.”
Love was still on an expiring deal at the time and Portland would have had their own opportunity to negotiate a long-term extension for the big man to play for the Blazers. But according to Richman, the Cavaliers felt that they could make the postseason with Love on their roster.
The five-time All-Star ended up agreeing to a five-year deal worth $113.2 million. The season was rough for the Cavs without LeBron James on the roster, now on the Los Angeles Lakers. Of course, one reason for the struggles can be attributed to the fact that Love played just 22 games. Their team looked quite a bit better with Love on the court alongside rookie Collin Sexton.
Chris Fedor recently noted that much has changed since the last offseason (via Cleveland.com):
“I don’t know how many other ways I can write this response before it resonates. Love is not one of the players the Cavs are looking to deal. They want him here. They believe his professionalism and leadership are important. He’s the kind of player any team should want around a young group because of the daily example he sets. Would the Cavs move him in the right deal? Sure, they would consider it. No one should be labeled untouchable this early into the rebuild.”
Love would certainly be a nice addition to a backcourt with Damian Lillard and CJ McCollum. But a trade would be far less likely now than it would have been last year.
There are several factors that make this trade even more unlikely, including the expiration of the trade exception in question last summer. Without it, the Blazers’ leverage in a negotiation becomes far less impressive.
The organization lost the late Paul Allen as their owner when he passed away in October 2018. His likeliness to pay the luxury tax required for adding another star does not suggest the new controlling operation would do the same.