Just one year after joining the Cleveland Cavaliers in a blockbuster summer trade, Kevin Love has elected to decline the $16.7 million player option he holds for the 2015-16 NBA season, according to ESPN.com’s Marc Stein. As a result, the 26-year-old power forward will hit the market as an unrestricted free agent.
This is a decision that just about everybody involved saw coming. Despite Love saying back in January that he didn’t plan to opt out, it never made much sense for him to take the other two paths on the table.
A long-term extension with the Cavs was a non-starter for much the same reason that it didn’t make much sense for LaMarcus Aldridge to re-up with the Portland Trail Blazers. The collective bargaining agreement limits extensions on veterans’ contracts to just four years, or three following the final year of the existing deal, meaning Love could only extend through 2019, with year-over-year raises on a lower base salary that meant he’d be leaving tens of millions on the table.
Ditto for opting in, which would have cost Love a little over $2 million in base salary next season on a new-salary-cap maximum contract: