With only one win so far and very few ways to significantly improve the team during the season, many are already calling this year a lost season for the Los Angeles Lakers, and have their eyes towards the 2015 off-season.
While it is still far too early to declare the Lakers dead this season, it is hard not to look ahead at the prospect of adding some significant pieces this summer. Players like Rajon Rondo, Greg Monroe, and DeAndre Jordan have all been discussed as possibilities, but earlier this week, a familiar name was brought up again.
Sam Smith of Bulls.com came out with an interesting rumor, saying that Cleveland Cavaliers forward Kevin Love will seriously consider opting-out after this season and could have an eye on coming to Los Angeles, where he played in college.
Love has long been a target of the Lakers, but after he was traded to the Cavaliers this off-season, he was and still is expected to re-sign with the Cavs and remain there long-term. But if there is any chance of Love looking to come to Los Angeles, the Lakers would be crazy not to put forth every effort to bring him in.
The question, how truthful is this rumor? So we asked our panel of experts, what chances do you give the Lakers of landing Kevin Love this off-season? This is what they had to say:
Ryan Ward (@Lakers_Examiner): Kevin Love has been linked to the Lakers for the last few years and it seemed highly likely he’d be headed back to Los Angeles once finally able to control his own fate in free agency.
Unfortunately for the Lakers, Los Angeles is no longer a desired destination for big-name players with championship aspirations. There’s no question Love has a special place in his heart for the city, but returning to L.A. to wear the purple and gold seems like a stretch to say the least.
Once Love was traded to the Cleveland Cavaliers, and finally had a chance to play alongside arguably the best player in the league in LeBron James, the dream of the former UCLA star playing for the Lakers was over. Unless the Cavs really struggle this season or Love feels like he’s not a right fit in Cleveland, I’d say there’s a 10% chance of him landing in Los Angeles next summer.
There’s no doubt that becoming the future face of the Lakers franchise will be appealing to Love. He’ll have the opportunity to play alongside Kobe Bryant for at least one year before being passed the torch in Los Angeles, but I’m not sure it’ll be enough to leave a good situation in Cleveland.
Kevin Chan (@Kevin_Cruiser): One thing is clear, Love will opt out after this season in order to sign a new max contract which will pay him more than if he waits for his current deal to expire in 2016. It makes the most financial sense for Love to opt out – under his current deal he will be paid $16.7 million in the 2015-16 season, he’d make more than $18.5 million if he opts out and signs a new max contract.
Now that we’ve established that Love will likely opt out of his contract at years end we can speculate on his potential destination. Let’s be clear that no one has any inside information on where Love will end up, Love himself probably doesn’t even know.
If the Cavs underperform and implode, there’s a chance Love will consider leaving Cleveland for greener pastures. So far the Cavs have not looked great, but surely they will gel throughout the season. If they don’t find synergy by season’s end, then there’s probably a good chance Love will strongly consider his options.
The Lakers present a fascinating opportunity for Love to come in and be the new face of the franchise. Kobe will be in his last season next year, so Love won’t have to worry about fitting in with number twenty four. The Lakers front office will certainly pursue Love, but who knows what he will ultimately decide.
I think it’s foolhardy to assume the Lakers would be the frontrunner for Love just because of the franchise’s history. Recently, superstars have been spurning the Lakers and the result has been disastrous. There’s a chance Love chooses the Lakers, but I wouldn’t put money on it.
Corey Hansford (@TheeCoreyH): I am, admittedly, pretty skeptical about just how truthful these rumors about Kevin Love are. While I do believe he will opt-out after the season in order to secure a larger max-contract, it’s hard to imagine him leaving LeBron James.
But the more I think about it, the more I start to believe that there is at least a possibility of this happening. Though it is very slim.
First and foremost, the Cavaliers would have to underwhelm and underperform for any of this speculation to come true and while they have struggled, the fact remains that the only team that really looks as if they can prevent them from making the NBA Finals is the Chicago Bulls.
But if the Cavs were to be upset in the playoffs and Love does seriously look at other options, there is no doubt the Lakers will be at or near the top of the list. The Lakers would have the money to add Love along with another player in free agency and if they can sell Love on that, it makes the Lakers more intriguing.
The chances of everything happening is still slim, but the Lakers could very well be in play if Cleveland fails in my opinion.
Russell Valenzuela (@RussVal4): Unfortunately for Laker fans, Kevin Love joining the team during the off-season is nothing but a pipe dream that has a slim shot of becoming a reality.
One of the main reasons Love wanted out of Minnesota was to finally make it to the playoffs and have the opportunity to compete for an NBA title. Love is expected to still have that chance this year with the Cavaliers despite their rocky start.
The Lakers immediate future is still questionable at best. Even with Kobe Bryant and a possible top five pick in the draft, the Lakers won’t be a compelling destination for Love despite his ties to the area. After the all the losing he went through with the Timberwolves, enduring another losing season won’t be in his plan.
As for the Lakers’ plans, bringing in Love has the potential to complicate things with Julius Randle as Love’s presence would further slow down Randle’s development. There is always the possibility the team ships Randle in favor of Love, but the Lakers will have other pressing issues to figure out.
While the Lakers will have money to spend in the offseason, they will likely look to fix their point guard and small forward problems moving forward.
Nathan Kim (@Kimchiz): Kevin Love will have the ability to opt out of his current contract following this season. This player option pushed the Minnesota Timberwolves to trade Love to Cleveland. With that being said, the trade to Cleveland was not just one advocated by the T-Wolves but also by Love. Both he and James stated mutual interest in playing together and this makes sense. Who wouldn’t want to play with the greatest player in the world?
Any discussion regarding Love and his alleged desire to look for other teams to play for next year sounds a bit far fetched. There have been a lot of talk about Love joining the Lakers.
There are many reasons for this: he was born in Santa Monica, his high school team name was the Lakers, and he went to UCLA for college. There is however one reason why he wouldn’t want to come to LA, he probably wouldn’t win a championship anytime soon.
Although the Cavaliers have struggled so far in the regular season, I don’t think this will be the case for long as I still see them representing the Eastern Conference in the NBA Finals. If the Lakers are not legitimate contenders in the Western Conference, I don’t think there is enough appeal for Love to want to join them next year.
However, the season is young and if the Lakers can somehow prove their ability to win games they may be able to woo Love. But I don’t think this will be the case.[divide]
Lakers Carlos Boozer On Kobe Bryant’s Career