With little more than three weeks remaining before Cleveland Cavaliers power forward Kevin Love becomes eligible to be traded, reports are now suggesting that the struggling Cavs might be willing to trade the five-time All-Star to another team before the February trade deadline. One of those teams — according to Marc Stein of the New York Times — might be the Denver Nuggets, who have surprised many NBA observers with their unlikely status as top contenders in the Western Conference.
Although Stein did not offer too many details in his report for the New York Times, he noted that a number of NBA teams see the 30-year-old Love as a “difference-maker” who could be acquired from the Cavaliers “for the right price.” With four-time NBA MVP LeBron James having left the Cavaliers in the summer to sign with the Los Angeles Lakers as a free agent, Cleveland has been reluctant to trade Love, with Chris Fedor of Cleveland.com writing last month that the Cavs will only accept a trade offer if they are “blown away” by it.
Citing an example of how many teams appear to be willing to trade for Love, Stein mentioned the Denver Nuggets — who currently lead the Western Conference with a 24-11 record. He stressed that the team has “maintained a longstanding fondness” for the veteran big man, and could possibly trade for him in a “win-now” move, as they hope to continue their surprisingly strong run atop the Western Conference going forward. No Nuggets players were mentioned in Stein’s article as potential trade pieces.
“Can I guarantee a Love trade before the deadline? No. Can I promise you that we’ll wind up talking about Love as a trade candidate in a few weeks? I think I can,” Stein predicted.
Denver Nuggets Interested in Trading for Kevin Love Before Trade Deadline: https://t.co/C1fAq8oVE6— Cavaliers Nation (@WeAreCavsNation) January 2, 2019
As noted by Bleacher Report, Kevin Love signed a four-year, $120 million extension with the Cleveland Cavaliers in the offseason — after James joined the Lakers. So far, he has played in only four games in the 2018-19 season due to toe surgery, averaging 19 points, 13.5 rebounds, and 3.5 assists per game — but shooting just 32.3 percent from the field. Per the terms of his contract extension, Love will become eligible to be traded on January 24.
With a league-worst 8-29 record, the Cavaliers have been busy unloading a number of veterans who contributed to some — or all — of their four consecutive NBA Finals appearances from 2015 to 2018. Although these trades have mainly involved role players such as George Hill and Kyle Korver, Yahoo Sports‘ Keith Smith wrote in December that it wouldn’t be surprising if the Cavs’ rebuilding campaign also sees them trading bigger contributors such as Love and Tristan Thompson, who could both play valuable roles for other teams despite their “bloated” contracts.