Cavaliers break the bank
NBA team owner brings back Love, Shumpert and Thompson
Cleveland Cavaliers owner Dan Gilbert promised LeBron James he would do whatever it took financially to surround him with a team capable of ending the city’s 51-year championship drought.
On the first day of free agency, Gilbert spent nearly a quarter of a billion dollars to back that up. All without addressing James’ contract yet.
The Cavaliers agreed to terms with Kevin Love on a maximum contract of five years and more than $110 million and gave swingman Iman Shumpert a four-year, $40 million deal, two people with knowledge of the negotiations told The Associated Press on Wednesday. The people requested anonymity because the deals had not been announced.
It was also reported by several outlets, first by ESPN, that forward Tristan Thompson will sign a five-year, $80 million deal, bringing Gilbert’s financial outlay to a whopping $230 million before the NBA’s fiscal year was even 24 hours old.
The contracts cannot be signed until July 9, when the salary cap is established and it becomes clearer just how steep a tax bill Gilbert will be facing. But that was all part of the plan when James decided to return home last summer. He made it clear what his expectations were, and Gilbert didn’t hesitate to oblige.
After James carried the injuryplagued Cavaliers through the playoffs to a six-game loss to Golden State in the finals, he chose not to exercise the option on his contract for next season and become a free agent. He never intended to leave, but the message was clear: make it happen.
Gilbert and GM David Griffin certainly did on Day 1.
The day started with Love announcing in The Players Tribune that he was coming back to the Cavaliers after a few weeks of speculation that he could head somewhere else after one year with the Cavs. Love’s season ended with a dislocated left shoulder in the first round of the playoffs and he had some testy moments with James in their first season together, but he made it clear on Wednesday that Cleveland is where he wanted to be.
“We’re all on the same page and we’re all in,” Love wrote. “We have unfinished business and now it’s time to get back to work.”
The Lakers, Celtics and Suns were among the teams believed to be interested in Love, who was viewed by many across the league as gettable after he struggled at times to find his place with James and Kyrie Irving. But he was spotted at a pool meeting with James and other teammates earlier this week, a meeting he alluded to in the piece he published on Wednesday.
“Yeah, of course I’ve heard the free agency rumours,” Love wrote. “But at the end of the day, and after meeting with my teammates (it turns out pools are great meeting places) and with the front office, it was clear Cleveland was the place for me.”
In this April 23 file photo, Cleveland Cavaliers forward Kevin Love looks to pass during first-round NBA playoff basketball action against the Boston Celtics in Boston.