The Cleveland Cavaliers are locked up with the Chicago Bulls in the Eastern Conference semifinals, but their real battle might be off the court. The front office has "legitimate fear" that Kevin Love will leave the Cavaliers as a free agent this summer, according to an interview Adrian Wojnarowski gave on the Dan Patrick Show. Love took a back seat role on the Cavaliers, struggling to find his way after spending most of his career as the No. 1 option in Minnesota.
Love's shoulder injury not only hurt Cleveland's chances of making a run to the NBA Finals now, but it also held him out from growing with the team through his first postseason. He is expected to decline his $16.7 million player option, likely opting for another contract worth more over a shorter period as various NBA stars prepare for a hike in the league's salary cap structure.
The Los Angeles Lakers have their eyes on Love, and would be willing to offer him a max contract this summer should he walk away from Cleveland, according to a report from Kevin Ding of Bleacher Report. With doubts from the Cavaliers rising and cap space from the Lakers clearing, this will be one of the major free agency stories of the summer. Even if Love doesn't head to Hollywood, several teams will surely be interested in signing the three-time All-Star away from LeBron James and the Cavaliers.
Expect plenty of noise regarding Love's future with the Cavaliers, and the Lakers pining for players of his talent level. We've only just begun.