CLEVELAND (AP) — Kevin Love wasn’t moved at the NBA’s trade deadline, and the Cavaliers don’t expect him to leave anytime soon.
Although Love has been dropped from Cleveland’s rotation, Cavs president of basketball operations Koby Altman said Thursday he has not had any discussions with the five-time All-Star or his agent about a contract buyout.
“I have not been approached by them at all and I don’t anticipate it either,” Altman said shortly after the deadline passed without the Cavs changing their roster.
Cleveland explored several trades, but Altman, who acquired All-Star guard Donovan Mitchell in a swap last summer, decided to stand pat.
“We just didn’t feel like anything was going to really move the needle for us,” he said. “We could have made a move that was lateral, multiple moves that were lateral that I didn’t think appreciably made us better.”
Love’s situation is another matter.
His four-year, $120 million contract expires after this season, so there had been speculation Love might draw trade interest from teams looking to use his deal ($28.9 million) as an asset to clear salary-cap space.
That didn’t happen, so Love is in Cleveland — for now.
Love, who has been one of the the Cavaliers’ core players since 2014, hasn’t played in the last five games despite being healthy. With forward Dean Wade recently returning from injury and coach J.B. Bickerstaff tinkering with lineup combinations for his young team, Love is the odd man out.
“It’s not easy for Kevin, I’m sure,” Altman said. “I’ve had conversations with him. He wants to play. I think he’ll have an opportunity to play again this year. But where we’re at now, I think J.B. is really comfortable with the rotation that we have.”
The Cavs are currently fourth in the Eastern Conference and poised to make the playoffs for the first time since 2018, when they made the last of four straight Finals appearances with LeBron James.
Love struggled earlier this season while playing with a thumb injury. He’s averaging 8.5 points and 6.8 rebounds in 20 minutes.
And while the 34-year-old’s most productive days are behind him, the Cavs still value Love and Altman believes he can still have a major on-court impact at some point this season — or in the playoffs.
“We’re asking Kevin to make another sacrifice this year,” Altman said, “to do what he’s doing right now, which is be a great teammate, stay positive every day, stay ready and work on your body, work on your shot, work on everything to be ready for when that opportunity comes next.”
Love has not publicly expressed any frustration with his reduced role.
It’s possible he could ask the Cavs for a buyout. However, Love, who has been the subject of trade speculation almost since he arrived nine years ago, has spoken about how much he enjoys being part of a team building toward another title run.
There has also been some internal discussion about Love staying with the organization beyond this season.
The Cavs acquired Love in 2014 in a trade from Minnesota.