With the Cleveland Cavaliers now willing to listen to trade offers for veteran big man Kevin Love, a new report suggests that the Denver Nuggets could be among the teams that could benefit the most from his services, assuming they're willing to part with at least one of their key contributors.
Reporting for Heavy on Sunday, Sean Deveney cited multiple league executives, discussing what the Cavaliers may likely receive in return for Love. Delving into the specifics, he also listed a number of potential trade scenarios for Love, including a couple involving the Nuggets. As noted, Denver currently has a 14-7 record that puts them at fifth place in the Western Conference, though some of the team's key contributors, including center Nikola Jokic and guards Gary Harris and Jamal Murray, have not been playing as well as expected in the early stages of the 2019-20 season.
For the first suggested transaction, Deveney mentioned a deal that would send Love to Denver in exchange for a trade package focused on power forward Paul Millsap. But with the 34-year-old Millsap playing well in the final year of a contract that will pay him $30 million this season, the longtime NBA insider wrote that the Nuggets could alternately offer a package that includes Harris and backup big man Mason Plumlee if they want to acquire Love from Cleveland.
For both trades, Deveney noted that Denver could sweeten the deal by including their first-round pick in the 2022 draft or second-year forward Michael Porter Jr.Currently in the first year of the four-year contract extension he signed last year, Love is averaging 16.1 points and 10.5 rebounds for a Cavaliers team that is currently ranked 14th in the Eastern Conference with a 5-17 record. While he has also been linked to teams such as the Portland Trail Blazers, Phoenix Suns, and Miami Heat, Deveney cautioned that the five-time All-Star forward/center "doesn't rate that high" in the trade market due to the lucrative contract that pays him about $30 million per year, as well as his reputation as an injury-prone player.
"He's 31 and he is not a young 31 if you know what I mean," an unnamed Eastern Conference general manager was quoted as saying. "He's had injuries lately and he's had injuries throughout his career. There isn't a lot there to make you think he'll play 70 or 75 games a year. And for what you've got to pay him, it's going to be tough to justify that to your owner."
Despite that warning, Deveney still described Love as an "ideal role player" if he gets shipped to the Nuggets — provided the team is able to make up for his and Jokic's defensive deficiencies.