Cava­liers break the bank

NBA team owner brings back Love, Shumpert and Thompson

Cape Breton Post - - SPORTS - BY JON KRAWCZYN­SKI

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.”

AP PHOTO

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.

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