Cavaliers Nearing Decision Time on Love, Thompson, Others
At some point, Cavaliers general manager Koby Altman will make another trade.
But when it comes to Kevin Love and Tristan Thompson, it's hard to know what the Cavs can and will do.
A survey of opposing executives reveals a few things about Love, not many of which are promising for a deal.
He's 31 years old.
He has three years and $90 million left on his contract.
He's not viewed as a game-changer who can put a team over the top.
He has an extensive injury history.
Along with all that, many opposing execs seem convinced Love was the main voice behind last month's report by The Athletic, which indicated some members of the Cavs were entirely unhappy with coach John Beilein.
Add it all up, and there is talk that if the Cavs want to trade Love, they will have to sweeten the deal with a draft pick or two.
Other teams also know that Love seemingly wants to be traded and that the Cavs would like to trade him. That puts the Cavs in a weaker bargaining position.
Now for Thompson.
He is 28 years old.
Unlike Love, there is never any doubting Thompson's determination or leadership qualities.
Thompson is coveted by contenders because he doesn't need the ball to make an impact. Instead, he often gets the ball off the backboard and willingly hands it to the stars.
He would be a great fit just about anywhere.
Of course, the Cavs really like Thompson and Thompson seems to really like the Cavs. He has been in Cleveland since 2011, when the Cavs drafted him with the fourth overall pick.
Thompson told SI.com in October he just focuses on the basketball portion of the job and lets agent Rich Paul handle the business side.
But Thompson has an expiring contract. If the Cavs haven't sat down and talked extension yet ... well, last thing they want is to lose him at the end of the season for nothing.
ON THE MOVE?
So where do things stand with the Cavs and their veterans?
It's hard to say. There doesn't appear to be any traction on Love talks. Nor does there seem to be anything at all involving Thompson.
There are definitely teams monitoring the Cavs, teams with an interest in Love and Thompson. That also is true of others with expiring contracts -- John Henson, Brandon Knight and even Matthew Dellavedova.
Basically, there's always a chance the guys who may not be here next year could be moved in February. That's just the reality of today's NBA.
It's never anything personal. It's business.
As far as Love is concerned specifically, again, there's no shortage of intrigue. When healthy, he is still a double-double waiting to happen. He can bury 3-pointers and gobble up rebounds. He is one of the few power forwards in the league that is proven in both areas.
But if the Cavs want to move him, it may mean surrendering their likely lottery pick. That's a tough thing to do, unless part of the return was a young player with upside.
For instance, Denver is one team with a supposed interest in Love. A deal sending Love and the Cavs' pick to the Nuggets for Michael Porter Jr., Paul Millsap and the Nuggets' pick would work under the salary cap.
Millsap has an expiring contract to match Love. So Porter Jr., in essence, would serve as the Cavs' 2020 lottery pick.
Now, that's a total hypothetical. It's hard to know if the Nuggets would even do something like that. It's hard to know if the Cavs would.
Point is, it may be the type of deal the Cavs will have to consider if they want to move Love. They may have to surrender the unknown of another lottery pick for a young player. Maybe that's not such a bad thing. They already have three rookies on the roster.
Now, there’s always a chance the Cavs keep Love, and Thompson, and take a look at things over the summer.
Love could come around and get back with the program. You can be sure Altman won't force a trade if he can't find the right deal. You can be sure the Cavs will talk to Thompson about an extension (or perhaps even a buyout) if he’s still on the roster in March.
There’s also the possibility the Cavs would allow the other contracts to just expire. (Though it seems likely they’ll easily be able to find a trade partner for Henson.)
Bottom line: With the trade deadline closing in, it's decision time in Cleveland.
What the Cavs do in the next several weeks very well could impact the franchise for the next several years.