It is well known across the basketball world how important this summer is to the future of the Los Angeles Lakers. With max-level salary cap space and possibly three draft picks, the team is poised to make some noise this off-season.
The biggest hope is that the Lakers can land another star player to team with Kobe Bryant in his likely final season, and truly take the reins once he’s gone. While there are some very talented players available in free agency, one name that continues to pop up is Cleveland Cavaliers power forward Kevin Love.
Shoulder surgery has knocked Love out for the remainder of the playoffs, and that has only served to increase the rumors surrounding the former UCLA Bruin. Most believe that the Lakers are the most likely destination for Love should he choose to leave Cleveland, but there are so many variables in play it is difficult to know how it will turn out.
While many feel that Love is the Lakers’ best chance at landing a superstar this summer, the odds of that actually happening are still up in the air. So we asked our panel of experts what they believe are the odds the Lakers land Kevin Love this summer. This is what they had to say:
Russell Valenzuela (@RussVal4): Despite a less than perfect season over in Cleveland, it would be hard for me to see Kevin Love in a Los Angeles Laker uniform next season. He desperately wanted to be on a playoff contending team while he was still with the Minnesota Timberwolves, and the Lakers will need plenty of help over the summer to get themselves back into competitiveness.
Of course, landing Love would come a long way towards helping the rebuild. He will be able to return to a featured role, although not the first option and head guy as long as Kobe Bryant is around. He still has the instincts necessary to be an excellent rebounder and the skills to hit the three to stretch out defenses.
A potential problem lies in what position he will play for the Lakers if he were to come. Julius Randle will be coming off an injury with the Lakers looking to get him some playing and developmental time. Putting Love at center would be an improper use as rim protection isn’t one of his strong suits.
Love wants to go somewhere where he can win while being a great fit on a team. The Lakers as constructed fail to offer it to him. However, things can always change after a year should Love opt-in his contract and hit free agency again next summer.
Kevin Chan (@Kevin_Cruiser): First off I think it’s inaccurate to say that Kevin Love would be returning ‘home’ to Los Angeles as some of the rumor articles are saying. While he was born in Santa Monica, Love grew up in Oregon. He then attended UCLA for one year before moving on to the NBA. There might be a certain comfort level for Love to return to the city in which he attended college, but too many writers are taking liberties to say that Love would be returning ‘home’ to LA. Home for Love is Oregon.
The general sentiment is that if Love decides to opt out and leave Cleveland, then his destination would be the Lakers. This is purely speculation and rumor so I can’t say if this is true or not. If Love is unhappy with his role on the Cavs and wanted to be the centerpiece of a team then the Lakers would be an ideal situation for him.
However it takes a certain leap of faith to assume that Love would want to leave the Cavs. Love originally left the Timberwolves because he wanted to win a championship and felt that the Cavs were ready to contend for a title. If Love jumps ship from the Cavs to the Lakers, he would be returning to a rebuilding situation. No one would argue that the Cavs are more contender ready than the Lakers. At best, the Lakers are still several years away from contending.
Taking the above into account, I think there’s about a 20% chance of the Lakers landing Love this summer.
Ryan Ward (@Lakers_Examiner): As of right now, I give the Los Angeles Lakers 60-40 odds to land Kevin Love this summer. If the UCLA product opts to officially become a free agent in July, I’d say there’s a 90 percent chance he signs with the Lakers.
We’ve been writing about rumors surrounding Love’s immediate future on a daily basis at Lakers Nation and there definitely seems to be something to the constant speculation. Love has the ties to Los Angeles with his fiancee living out here to go along with already being a star in this city as a Bruin.
A return to Los Angeles seems to make a lot of sense, especially considering the role as the centerpiece of the franchise he’d assume. Landing Love in addition to bringing in a top-five pick and potentially another free agent would be a giant leap forward for the Lakers.
Hopefully, after three straight disappointing seasons, the storied franchise starts to takes steps in the right direction with signing Love being the first major move to the rebuild in Los Angeles.
Corey Hansford (@TheeCoreyH): I honestly feel like there is a 50-50 chance Kevin Love winds up with the Los Angeles Lakers this summer.
If Love wants to win a championship, it would make sense for him to stay in Cleveland. The Cavaliers have LeBron James and Kyrie Irving and many looked at them as championship favorites before Love’s unfortunate injury. The Lakers are miles behind Cleveland in that regard.
However, Love really struggled with his role in Cleveland. He was the clear third option and the Cavaliers never quite figured out how to use him correctly. If the Lakers are fortunate enough to add some serious talent in the draft, and possibly another great role player in free agency along with Love, he may look at the Lakers as a team on the rise. That, combined with Love’s comfort level in Los Angeles could be enough to get him to commit.
Love, Julius Randle, Jordan Clarkson, and a potential top-5 pick would give the Lakers an excellent core group to build around, as well as attract other big names in 2016 when the salary cap jumps. It is far from a sure thing, but the Lakers do have a chance to bring Love in.
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