Report: Blazers likely to pursue Kevin Love if LaMarcus Aldridge leaves
It was big news today when ESPN.com’s Marc Stein reported that Kevin Love, despite public statements saying he expected to stay in Cleveland, will opt out of the final year of his deal and become a free-agent on July 1.
But in Stein’s report about Love’s decision to opt-out, he reports that the Portland Trail Blazers would pursue Kevin Love if LaMarcus Aldridge leaves.
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.
We’ve been writing about the possibility that Portland would pursue Love if Aldridge left town and it’s not a fairytale. The Lakers and Celtics have the most prestige but the homecoming redemption story for Love–whose value league-wide has taken a hit–and the Blazers, who will be recovering from their best player skipping town, has always seemed possible.
Love told reporters when the Cavaliers visited Portland in November that his “heart will always be in Portland.”
Love’s allegiances towards Southern California are obvious because of his college and AAU career, but he has been more vocal recently about his affinity for home. Basketball wise there is no other situation–outside of Cleveland–that would be more appealing than Portland. The Celtics have tradition and are in the East, but still won fewer than 40 games and have to go through Cleveland to win big.
The Lakers are in worse position in the West to contend right away, no matter which player they get with the No. 2 pick. Even if they are somehow able to pry Cousins, there wouldn’t be enough basketball to go around, or defense, to truly be a contender.
Also, from a championship window standpoint, Love is almost three years younger than Aldridge. He is closer in age to Portland’s other star Damian Lillard than he is to LeBron James or Kobe Bryant. The question for a team led by Lillard and Love would be how well they could ultimately defend as a team. But if you have that type of offensive talent, you take it and hope the defense figures itself out.
Portland also has a movement based offensive system that has worked well and a coach that has been known to bend the system towards great offensive players, like Aldridge. And it would make sense that Love would get similar privileges if he were to replace Aldridge, with a higher clip of 3-pointers.
Love opting out just added even more intrigue to a Blazers offseason that already promised to be their most important in nearly a decade.