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Why Kevin Love might opt in to the final season of his contract

May 19, 2014, 12:30 PM EDT

Kevin Love Kevin Love

Kevin Love wants to leave Minnesota, and the Timberwolves might trade him.

But they’ll trade him only if they get an enticing offer. Otherwise, it makes more sense to take their chances – no matter how slim – that Love actually follows through and leaves money on the table to depart Minnesota in 2015.

So, how can Love persuade the Warriors, Bulls, Rockets, Celtics or any other team to make Minnesota a satisfactory proposal?

He can agree to remain under contract beyond next season.

Knowing Love can become a free agent in 2015 will lower the quality of assets teams will relinquish in a trade for him. After the Lakers traded for Dwight Howard only to see him walk in free agency a year later, teams will be especially hesitant to get caught in the same position.

But Love can put those concerns at ease by agreeing to an extend-and-trade or exercising his 2015-16 player option ($16,744,219) contingent on a deal. And by agreeing to do either only for certain teams, he can effectively dictate where he’s traded.

Love will make $15,719,063 next season. After that, the ball is mostly in his court.

Here are the paths Love’s max salary could travel over the upcoming years depending on whether he opts in (green), opts out (blue) or agrees to an extend and trade (black) using a rough salary-cap estimate that increases each year by the amount it’s projected to this year.


Salary by year 2016 2017 2018 2019 2020 2021
Extend and trade $16,744,219 $17,497,709
Opt out, re-sign $18,975,014 $20,398,140 $21,821,266 $23,244,392 $24,667,518
Opt out, sign elsewhere $18,975,014 $19,828,889 $20,682,765 $21,536,640
Opt in, re-sign $16,744,219 $20,241,770 $21,759,903 $23,278,036 $24,796,169 $26,314,301
Opt in, sign elsewhere $16,744,219 $20,241,770 $21,152,650 $22,063,530 $22,974,409


Salary through year 2016 2017 2018 2019 2020 2021
Extend and trade $16,744,219 $34,241,928
Opt out, re-sign $18,975,014 $39,373,153 $61,194,419 $84,438,810 $109,106,328
Opt out, sign elsewhere $18,975,014 $38,803,903 $59,486,668 $81,023,308
Opt in, re-sign $16,744,219 $36,985,989 $58,745,892 $82,023,928 $106,820,097 $133,134,399
Opt in, sign elsewhere $16,744,219 $36,985,989 $58,138,639 $80,202,169 $103,176,578


It’s in Love’s best financial interest – whether he opts in or out – to re-sign with whatever team he’s playing for when his contract expires. That’s why it’s important Love plays his cards correctly now.

An extend and trade (if signed after the the July moratorium) would best serve Love if he opts in to the final year of his existing contract, but the deal could last only one additional season. Financially, it’s a poor option, but guaranteeing his next team three years might be the best way to secure a trade.

Most likely, though, Love can arrange a trade by opting in to the final year of his contract as a condition of the deal – giving his next team two years with him. If Love opts in to his final year of his contract, not only would his new team get an additional year of Love, it could use that extra year to re-trade him if it doesn’t believe he’ll re-sign.

Possibly, a team would trade for Love without the guarantee he’ll opt in. But, again, that’s headed toward the area where teams might not surrender enough to convince Minnesota to pull the trigger.

If Love wants to force a trade, he has some leverage. Opting in to the final year of his contract would cost him money next season, but if that’s what it takes to get him to place he wants to re-sign, it will make him money in the long run.

  1. isaiah007 - May 19, 2014 at 12:47 PM

    But you are forgetting one important thing. Kevin Love is not demanding to be traded. He wants to be, no doubt but if he has to play one more season in Minny and then he simply chooses where he wants to play. If he makes it to 2015 he will likely choose the Lakers. They have nothing at the moment to trade for him, so if he goes to management and finally “demands” that trade it will likely be GSW or Bulls! Two totally different ways this can play out.

    • casualcommenter - May 19, 2014 at 2:47 PM

      No. While Love didn’t “demand” to be traded, he let the Timberwolves know he’s almost certain to leave in free agency in a year.
      The Timberwolves in this situation HAVE to trade him for a haul that hopefully helps them jump start their rebuild, and that haul would be better in a trade now than a sign and trade in a year.

      Compare what the Magic got for Dwight Howard, who had 1 year left in his deal, to what Cleveland got for LeBron, who was a free agent.

    • spursareold - May 19, 2014 at 2:53 PM

      If you actually directly go to your team and demand a trade, there are HUGE fines that will be levied by the league. Everyone does it by back channels. “Their people” talk to “your people”.

      The message was obviously received. Having the owner say that “we’re not trading him before the draft” means that they “get it”, and he will be traded.

  2. vikingapologist - May 19, 2014 at 12:51 PM

    Hurry up And trade this lop! He is tiring , he is not at all a leader like KG was, he is a me guy, and will not be missed at all

  3. duhwighthoward - May 19, 2014 at 12:59 PM

    How about an article on David West? He has been balling for years, one of the best in the game and nary a word about him.

  4. soundsofsuccess7 - May 19, 2014 at 1:00 PM

    Opt out and sign with the Lakers. No brainer.

  5. thekingdave - May 19, 2014 at 1:00 PM

    Je. Sus. Christ. The line graphs aren’t necessary, we are not 8 year olds. Our quantitative abilities are functioning fine.

    • sportsfan18 - May 19, 2014 at 1:08 PM

      I guess you’re new on here… because if you’re NOT new on here I want to know how you could make your comment as there are idiots left and right all over this place…

      So many on here are cretins…

  6. sportsfan18 - May 19, 2014 at 1:06 PM


    Well written.

    Love most definitely has a say in what happens to him and where he goes…

  7. fm31970 - May 19, 2014 at 1:15 PM

    $26,314,301 in 2021. There is not a player, even LeBron, who will be worth that much in seven years. Nobody. I have to think even the Lakers wouldn’t do a sign and trade for Love and end up paying him that much in seven years.

    • casualcommenter - May 19, 2014 at 2:50 PM

      Sounds like someone doesn’t know about how the NBA salary cap is rising, with a new TV deal on the way, and how star player salaries will go up with it since roster sizes are fixed at 15….

      • jollyjoker2 - May 19, 2014 at 7:09 PM

        fm – I used to say that about baseball players when they were at 2-3 million per year; now, you can’t even get a backup catcher. Its a lot of money to most schmuks – but we are not footing the bill…someone is. I am not.

  8. harshedmellow - May 19, 2014 at 1:22 PM

    I have to wonder how much an extra 10-20 mil over a career even matters to a guy making 15 mil a year already for a number of years. He’s already earned “generational” money. Here’s a young guy, clearly a huge and unique talent, 25 years old, who’s gonna basically get one shot at playing for a contender in his prime years. He’s already rich beyond any of our abilities to comprehend. But PHYSICALLY, he knows better than all of us, how easily things can go away. Look at Walton or Yao Ming. One broken bone in a foot can be the end for a big guy. This is not some 6′-3″ guard flitting around. This is a BIG DUDE. A big white dude no less.

    If he has a brain in his skull he’s not even worrying about “the money”. The money is obscene wherever he goes. He’s focusing on finding a place to go compete for a championship in the window of time he hopefully has before him.

    That kinda eliminates the Lakers and the Knicks.

    Funny how Chitown keeps coming up as a landing place for these guys in this position- Love, Carmelo… I think good things are coming to Chicago… big market, storied franchise, and pieces in place.

    • casualcommenter - May 19, 2014 at 2:54 PM

      “Funny how Chitown keeps coming up as a landing place for these guys in this position- Love, Carmelo… I think good things are coming to Chicago… big market, storied franchise, and pieces in place.”

      And an owner who hates paying even a token amount of luxury tax, and a max contract star who hasn’t consistently seen the court in 3 years, and rumors that their highly regarded coach feuds with management…

  9. phillysports1 - May 19, 2014 at 2:41 PM

    Philly will be waiting for you Kev …. With some good young talent in the rising !!!

    • adoombray - May 19, 2014 at 4:09 PM

      haha… showing you are good at losing isnt going to attract guys looking for a winner

  10. thekingdave - May 19, 2014 at 5:42 PM

    I think you’re missing a lot here “analytically”. For instance, what is the net present value of each of Love’s cash flows in each scenario? What’s his discount rate for future cash flows? How much does his discount rate change if he were traded to a bigger or smaller market? Would the APV (hybrid) approach be better to accurately value Love’s tax shield? I NEED MORE!

  11. phillysports1 - May 19, 2014 at 5:49 PM

    That doesn’t make any sense lol

  12. campcouch - May 19, 2014 at 10:02 PM

    When Ricky Rubio says trade you,your teammates don’t really care much for you.

  13. jazz11001 - May 19, 2014 at 11:12 PM

    The T-wolves continue to lose because they can’t develop or draft a talented PG. All this team needs is a darn scoring PG! Trade for a PG while keeping Love on the team to win a boat load of games then trade him for a kings ransom and let Shabazz run crazy. Maybe if he played ANY defense we could resign him but he is a liability. Big time scorer but gets owned on D. Either way the big market teams will always overpay for him so Wolves win either way.

  14. jmatacola - Nov 10, 2014 at 6:46 PM

    Kevin Love did force the hand of the T-Wolves to trade him to the Cav’s and King James’ posse. Now he is seeing that Chris Bosh wasn’t just suffering from a case of sour grapes (not completely anyways). If the King and Co. doesn’t make a deep run in the playoffs Kevin might be really tempted to move on if, there is another team that is close to winning the trophy. Just think how great he would look in the colors of the Phoenix Suns. Seriously, with Love filling the role of power forward and M. Morris playing week side and if Alex Len or Plumlee put their game together (which appears to be very close and almost a certainty or Love at center and Tucker at small Forward with a revolving door at power and center), Kevin would have three point guards to give him the ball in excellent position to finish. His talent for finding the ball will ensure 10 plus rebounds per game and then the points he could acquire would be in the 30’s range. These would be MVP numbers. If the Lakers manage to not be a top five, in this upcoming draft, the Suns would have the pick along with their others to build a championship team to last throughout Love’s career….something that Kevin Love and every player in the league has always dreamed of. The roadblock would be the Sun’s ownership group that has been unwilling to pay for the top players. Robert Sarver would have to dig into his deep pockets and therein lies the rub.

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