Cleveland Cavaliers power forward Kevin Love has opted out of the final year of his contract an will become an unrestricted free agent, reports Marc Stein of ESPN. This was an expected move from Love, who is one of the biggest names on the 2015 free agent market. The Los Angeles Lakers are said to be one of several teams that will try to attain the All-Star power forward.
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The Cavaliers have given every indication they want to retain Love and the rest of the roster that came just two wins short of an NBA championship, but as Zach Lowe outlined, doing so would likely leave them with a payroll over $200 million, which would be the highest in the history of the NBA.
Could Love be the best option for the Lakers this summer? According to ESPN, the Lakers front office is "planning to make a run at Love in free agency." However, signing Love would likely push 2014 lottery selection Julius Randle into a bench role, as he and Love would have difficulty playing alongside each other. This is what Stein had to say regarding potential suitors for Love:
Sources tell ESPN.com that the Los Angeles Lakers and the Celtics are among the teams planning to make a run at Love in free agency. Sources say that the Portland Trail Blazers, furthermore, are likely to pursue the former Oregon high school star in the event that LaMarcus Aldridge -- as many league executives expect -- flees the Blazers in free agency.
Love may also want to stay on a more competitive roster in Cleveland, after getting his first short (brief) taste of the playoffs last season, with opting out just a strategy for signing a long-term contract rather than an indication that he wants to leave the Cavaliers. But if Love is interested in the Lakers, it would probably be very difficult for the front office to pass up a proven talent like him as a draw for other free agents in 2016.
UPDATE - 6/24 12:32 p.m. PT
Cleveland remains the frontrunner to retain Love, but he "could" be willing to hear pitches from both the Lakers and Celtics, reports Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo Sports.