Kevin Love is (finally) a Cleveland Cavalier.
We can scratch his name off the list of “franchise saviors” for the Los Angeles Lakers, even though it’s likely most fans did that quite some time ago.
As part of LeBron James‘ new star-studded squad in Cleveland, Kevin Love will undoubtedly be staying put for a good amount of time, at least a long enough time that he will not be resurrecting the Lakers’ playoff hopes in the Western Conference.
Love was a major target for the Lakers’ future plans (2015 offseason), and now he represents the latest “miss” by Laker Nation, a list headlined by Dwight Howard and Carmelo Anthony. However, unlike that star duo, the Lakers had no real shot of landing Kevin Love.
First, Love was going to be traded before the season started. For the Minnesota Timberwolves to keep him on the roster would have been detrimental, and a monster distraction. Which, in theory, is good news for the Lakers who seem to always have a trick up their sleeve when it comes to landing disgruntled stars from other teams.
In practice, the idea was rotten from the get-go.
The Lakers are barren in terms of assets. They boast expiring contracts, but little else. The most highly touted prospect on their roster has not even played a preseason game in an NBA uniform, and while trading all of their draft picks for the foreseeable future has been fun, the purple and gold need to keep a few of those to reload their own roster.
In short, when Love was up for auction, it was clear nearly every other team could trump the Lakers’ offer.
More importantly, the Lakers as currently configured could not offer Kevin Love what he desperately craves: a shot at a title.
Acquiring Kevin Love would have been awkward, perhaps the Dwightmare 2.0. To ask Love to take a backseat to Kobe Bryant, become a fringe contender at best, and reload in 2016 would be a lot. Too much for a guy who wants to win yesterday.
It’s clear that Love was not going to elevate the Lakers to championship caliber status. Even with an offensively brilliant Kobe Bryant (assuming that’s who we see), and the stat-stuffing big man, this team had some work to do to even make the playoffs if they were to gut the team to acquire the superstar.
Love by himself would not make the ultimate difference, even with the level of play we saw that on display in Minnesota.
Of course, Kevin Love would have been a welcome addition to the team if he had made his way onto the roster. Just like with Dwight Howard, it is worth a shot to roll the dice on elite talent. I am just not sure “missing out” on Kevin Love is all the big of a deal.
Instead, the Lakers can build more organically, at least right away. They will retain Julius Randle, and their future draft choices. The cupboard will not be bare, and instead it may be stocked once more.
Kevin Love will have success in Cleveland with LeBron James. They form a talented duo, and it’s something that Laker fans dreamed about coming to fruition on the Staples Center floor; but it was just that, a dream.
So, instead of claiming the Lakers “missed out” on Kevin Love, let’s look at it for what it is: they were outbid for a player that likely had more preferred destinations. Those destinations were preferred from a basketball standpoint, for the foundation that those teams have built.
Now, the Lakers can build the same foundation.
With no splashy move this offseason, they can develop their younger talent under much smaller expectations. They can set the stage for free agency 2016, where the Lakers certainly will be up to bat swinging for the top talent.
And after the past few seasons, they’ll be truly ready to connect.