When Kevin Love joined the Cleveland Cavaliers in 2014 and won a title with them in 2016, he was the third option on a championship contender. Nevertheless, his name always swirled around in trade rumors until he ironically became the last player on the Cavaliers’ championship roster to remain on the team.
He made it through a rebuild after LeBron James and Kyrie Irving left, turning from a championship piece into a mentor and role player on a team filled with young talent trying to find their footing in the NBA. That is not an easy thing to do for a five-time All-Star who feels like he can still contribute at a high level.
Kevin Love could be a perfect fit for the Miami Heat
It is even harder, though, to be asked to take another step back now that the team is finally contending again after going through all of that. That is exactly what happened to Love, who had to relinquish his minutes to younger teammates on their way towards stardom.
Love struggled with a thumb injury for a while, and while he was out, the Cavaliers found their rhythm in a nine-man rotation that did not include the veteran forward. As a result, he was racking up did-not-plays despite being active going into the All-Star break, and not surprisingly, he requested a buyout to give himself an opportunity to find a team that could offer him a defined role. Love had many suitors, including the Los Angeles Lakers and the Philadelphia 76ers, but the Miami Heat emerged as the team that would be the best fit.
The Heat were surprisingly inactive at the trade deadline, considering that they have certain issues to address, most pressingly their lack of a true power forward. Since PJ Tucker went to the 76ers over the summer, the Heat have been looking for someone to take over his role. Caleb Martin has been filling the starting four spot to the best of his abilities for most of the season, but it has led to the Heat being incredibly undersized.
Love is not as good of a defender as Tucker is, but he is bigger and stronger than Martin and can hold his own against physical opponents in the frontcourt. Despite being criticized for his defense during his tenure with the Cavaliers, Love showed that he could rise to the occasion when it mattered the most when he defended Stephen Curry on the game-deciding possession of the last 2016 Finals game.
Considering that there is basically a vacant power forward spot on Miami’s roster, they can offer Love a significant role right away, which is what he craves to provide for a team. He can immediately provide valuable backup minutes at both power forward and center after demonstrating last year that he can be one of the best in a sixth man role. Eventually, Love could also slide into the starting lineup, though, depending on how quickly he can acclimate to his new surroundings.