Cleveland Cavaliers forward Kevin Love has opted out of the final year of his contract, league sources told ESPN on Wednesday. Sources told ESPN.com that Love notified the Cavaliers on Wednesday that he is opting out of the final year remaining on his contract — worth $16.7 million next season — to return to free agency.
The Cavaliers, though, were expecting the decision and, at this juncture, plan to try to re-sign the former All-Star forward, whose up-and-down first season in Cleveland ended prematurely when he suffered a shoulder injury in the first round of the playoffs against the Boston Celtics.
Sources tell ESPN.com that the Los Angeles Lakers and the Celtics are among the teams planning to make a run at Love in free agency. Sources say that the Portland Trail Blazers, furthermore, are likely to pursue the former Oregon high school star in the event that LaMarcus Aldridge — as many league executives expect — flees the Blazers in free agency.
Love missed most of the Cavs’ run to the NBA Finals after suffering a dislocated shoulder against the Celtics when Kelly Olynyk pulled down on Love’s left arm and yanked it out of the socket.
After he suffered the injury, Love was asked whether he wanted to return to the Cavaliers next season.
“Yes,” the power forward said on June 5. “I want to win.”
Love, who had never been on a playoff team in his six previous NBA seasons, averaged 16.4 points and 9.7 rebounds in his first year with Cleveland, which traded Andrew Wiggins and its 2016 first-round pick to get him from the Minnesota Timberwolves last summer.