Kevin Love has the opportunity to become an unrestricted free agent this summer and most people believe he will leave Cleveland for a team where he will be the star. This article will showcase the five best teams who would be the best fit for Kevin Love if he does leave Cleveland.
The Celtics have been linked to Love’s expected departure from the start. The Celtics are lacking a true star player they can count on for offense. Love, after the Cavs vs Celtics series, seems to strongly dislike Kelly Olynyk, and the Celtics would have to move him. This is not a major issue since the Celtics have been reportedly shopping Olynyk, along with their other power forwards in an effort to move up in the draft. If the Celtics did obtain Love in free agency, they would still have to add a rim protector, as that is still a major hole for them, and Love offers little to no defensive help. A starting five of Smart, Bradley, Turner/Crowder, Love, then a drafted center, would give the Celtics a nice, young, feisty core with a lot of potential to make some noise in the Eastern Conference. When you have Brad Stevens take a team like the Celtics, who were expected to be terrible to the playoffs, you can not help but ponder what greatness he could do with a star player.
Los Angeles Lakers:
The Lakers seem to be the front runners for Love’s services. Love played his college ball at UCLA and has stated numerous times how he would love to play in that city again. The Lakers have a ton of cap room and a high draft pick to be able to build around Love. The Lakers would have to hope that the Timberwolves select Jahlil Okafor instead of Karl Anthony-Towns so they could complement Love’s skill set with that of Towns. If Towns is selected first overall, I would expect the Lakers to either trade down a few picks, maybe with the Nuggets, to obtain more talent, or select D’Angelo Russell. Russell has the same type of personality of Kobe and he would embrace the LA culture and be in position to be the next great Laker. If the Lakers decided to trade down with the Nuggets, I would expect a trade of Ty Lawson, Wilson Chandler, and the 7th overall pick for the second overall pick and maybe a contract dump of Jordan Hill. At the 7th pick the Lakers would have a few options in Mario Hezonja, Stanley Johnson, or Willie Cauley-Stein. With either option, it gives the Lakers a mixture of young players and veterans, who would help them compete right away in the Western Conference.
The Trailblazers are an unspoken team that could land Kevin Love. LaMarcus Aldridge is an impending free agent, and most believe him to sign with the San Antonio Spurs, which I think is the best option for him if he wants to win. The Trailblazers in return could look to replace Aldridge with Love to give Lillard another star player to stay competitive in the west. With the addition of Love the Trailblazers would then look to locking up Batum and Matthews. With those pieces hypothetically set, this would allow for the Trailblazers to target a player like Robert Upshaw to be a rim protector and upgrade over Robin Lopez. Of all the teams listed, I feel this is the best landing spot for Love if he wants a chance to win sooner rather than later.
The Dirk Nowitzki era is coming to an end sadly. The Mavericks always seem to be in contention to land a star free agent, but always come up short. Things could change this off season with Love. Much like Portland, Dallas offers good role players, and the chance to be the main guy, which Love desires. With Love, the Mavericks could look into sliding Nowitzki into the 6th man role to preserve him for the playoffs, as they look to capitalize the last few seasons they have with him. After Love is signed, the Mavericks should turn their heads to signing Ellis back, for he was working great in the system become the acquisition on Rondo. Even with a core of Love, Ellis, Parsons, and Nowitzki, I do not think that team could survive in the playoffs, as a Spurs, with Aldridge, a Harden led Rockets teams, and Curry lead Warriors teams would all still be better.
I assume most of you will be scratching your heads at this possible destination. If you want to go by schemes, Love fits perfectly into what Stan Van Gundy likes to do. Gundy has his center in Drummond, and Gundy loves to surround his center with shooters. Love could do what he does best and stretch the floor and give Drummond the room he needs to dominate in the low post. On the defensive end, Drummond would have no issue working along side Love, as Love would stay out of his way and Drummond could protect the rim. This addition of Love would allow for the Pistons to not worry about the loss of Greg Monroe, and add a player who fits their current system better. The Pistons would then have a core of Love, Jennings, Jackson(if retained in free agency), and Pope. This would allow for them to target a player like Stanley Johnson in the draft giving them another perimeter threat and defensive stalwart. This destination is highly unlikely because Detroit is not a popular free agent destination, but if it does happen it would make a ton of sense for both Love and the Pistons.
All of these scenarios are of course hypothetical for they need Kevin Love to opt out of his contract and decide he does not want to play in Cleveland anymore. Love has a strong desire to be the main offensive guy and he does not have this opportunity in Cleveland, but these five teams offer him this ability. In my opinion his best chance to win is in Portland, but the best fit for him is Detroit. The Lakers offer a lot based on having a ton a cap space and high draft pick, but both of those come with a lot of uncertainty, while Detroit has an already emerging star center and Portland has a star point guard. Dallas and Boston offer a strong supporting cast, but not another star to lead through the playoffs. With all that being said, Love will probably sign with the Lakers, as that seems to be where his heart is.
By: Mac Crowe, @Mac_Truck17