The Cleveland Cavaliers may have lost LeBron James, but they have no intention of blowing things up just yet. The team announced it signed the All-Star forward to a contract extension on Tuesday. Per ESPN's Brian Windhorst and Adrian Wojnarowski, the extension is for four years and worth $120 million, which locks Love up for five years and putting the team on the hook for about $145 million total.
Love won't be making the max in Cleveland, as Windhorst reports. He'll be about $8 million below that number. It's a front-loaded contract, with Love making the most in the 2019 and 2020 seasons. His salary reportedly decreases in 2022. Love's cap hit for next season will be about $24.12 million.
Kevin Love's extension (4 years) is at the max salary in 2019-20 and '20-21, then no raise in '21-22 and then decreases in '22-23. Took about $8M less than his full max, according to sources— Brian Windhorst (@WindhorstESPN) July 24, 2018
The immediate question with this contract is whether the Cavs made the right decision in extending Love. In a way, yes they did. Their roster as it's currently set is filled up with too much cap space and veterans to cleanly blow everything up and start a rebuild. There is still talent on Cleveland's roster and maybe the Cavs can in the short term win some games.
The key detail in Love's contract is that it's front loaded. If the Cavs' attempt to win flops, then at worst they'll just have to wait out the more expensive part of Love's deal and then he becomes a movable contract in the latter half. That's a smart move on Cleveland's part, because it creates later flexibility down the line.
All that said, the Cavs front office might be looking at their roster a little too optimistically here. Love is going to be the No. 1 option in Cleveland. He's done that before in Minnesota, but is he individually good enough to bring them to the playoffs? Not with the talent currently around him. Love does seem optimistic though. Via NBA.com
"When I first came to Cleveland, I came with a long-term mindset," said Love. "I came here to win. We developed a culture here that reflects that. I'm super excited and I couldn't be happier. It's a big commitment for me and it's a big commitment from the Cavaliers, so I want to thank Dan Gilbert, Koby Altman and the entire organization. I enjoy playing here, I'm excited about the team that we have and look forward to our future together. Cleveland fans have been special from day one and I'm also looking forward to continuing to be a part of this great community."
Since joining the Cavaliers in 2014, Love has averaged a double-double at 17.1 points and 10 rebounds per game. With James now out of the picture in Cleveland, Love is clearly the biggest name left on the Cavaliers. It will be interesting to see where Cleveland goes from here.