UPDATE (12:00 p.m. ET): Love and the Cavaliers agreed to a buyout, per ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski. The Heat remain favorites to sign love, but he will be talking with the Philadelphia 76ers first.
In order to sign Love, the Sixers would have to clear a roster spot — Dewayne Dedmon ($580K) being the most realistic candidate. They can only offer him a prorated minimum, currently worth $528K.
The Miami Heat, who have two open roster spots, have “emerged” as the frontrunners to sign forward Kevin Love once he is bought out, Shams Charania of The Athletic reported Saturday. Other teams with reported interest include the Los Angeles Lakers and the Phoenix Suns.
Charania notes that other interested teams believe “Miami’s ability to offer a defined role and playoff positioning are leading factors.”
The Miami Heat have emerged as leaders to sign five-time All-Star Kevin Love after he completes buyout with Cleveland, league sources tell @TheAthletic @Stadium. Interested teams believe Miami's ability to offer a defined role and playoff positioning are leading factors.— Shams Charania (@ShamsCharania) February 18, 2023
To connect the dots more between Love and Miami more, Charania reported Wednesday evening that the Heat were expected to “emerge as a suitor” for the five-time All-Star. Subsequent reports also surfaced that Miami’s prioritizing help in the frontcourt — specifically Love or Serge Ibaka — over guards, such as Russell Westbrook and Patrick Beverley.
So if these reports suggest that interest is definitely present. The only wrench remains when the Cleveland Cavaliers and Love agree to a buyout, if they do.
Once he is, it’s practically out of Cleveland’s control on where he signs. But the Cavs may be disinclined to buy out the rest of his $28.9 million if those intend to be his plans; Charania’s report comes nearly 24 hours after RealGM reported, “The Cavaliers may be unwilling to let Love sign with the Heat if he is bought out.”
On one hand, it makes sense since the Heat and Cavs might — key word: might — meet in the playoffs; on another, it’s equally as petty to do that for a player who 1.) is not even in the rotation, racking up nine straight DNP-CDs and 2.) helped the franchise win its first-and-only NBA Title.
Love, 34, is averaging 8.5 points and 6.8 rebounds, shooting 35.4 percent from 3-point range (4.8 attempts) and 88.9 percent from the free-throw line this season.
Since it has just 13 players on its roster, Miami has until Feb. 21 to add a 14th player. Miami’s roughly $4.80 million below the luxury tax, and can still use the rest of its non-taxpayer MLE (~$3.08M prorated) or its bi-annual exception (~$3.16M) while remaining below the tax if it does not want to use the minimum. In the scenario he signs on the minimum for the remainder of the season, his cap-hit would be less than ~$530K with the option to still use its MLE/BAE to sign anyone else on the buyout market.
This is a breaking news story. Stay tuned for updates.