The New York Knicks and new president Leon Rose have a very unique but busy offseason in front of them. The new regime is still deciding on a new head coach, and once they complete that, they need to turn their attention towards preparing for free agency and October’s NBA Draft. If that wasn’t already hard enough under regular circumstances, they have had to navigate through the restrictions presented by the current COVID-19 pandemic that has and continues to rattle both the sports world and the nation as a whole.
Some things never change, however, as the trade rumors that usually surface around this time of year are doing so once again. The Knicks have been linked to a number of players so far, from Chris Paul to Devin Booker to DeMar DeRozan. But how about another player who hasn’t really been mentioned much, at least not yet, who could make some sense for New York? That player is Cleveland Cavaliers big man Kevin Love.
Now, don’t worry, that look of disgust you probably just made after reading that sentence is totally understandable. I made a similar one at first, and I would prefer the Knicks stay away from Love for a number of reasons. However, there is a case to be made for bringing in a veteran of Love’s caliber.
The main argument for the New York Knicks considering Kevin Love:
The main argument for acquiring Love would be his shooting. Love is a great shooter, and the Knicks are a team in desperate need of great shooting. Before the NBA season was shut down, the Knicks ranked 30th in points per game and 28th in offensive efficiency. In terms of shooting, they were 24th in field goal percentage, 27th in two-point percentage, 29th in effective field goal percentage, and dead last in true shooting percentage. Behind the three-point line, they were even worse, as they ranked 27th in three-point percentage and last in threes made per game by a wide margin. They were also abysmal at the free-throw line shooting a putrid 69.4 percent, which was last in the league, and it wasn’t even close.
Needless to say, the Knicks need a lot of help on the offensive side of the ball, and Love can bring that. With career shooting percentages of 44.2 percent from the floor and 37 percent from three, the 12-year veteran and 5x All-Star would provide the Knicks with a legitimate scoring big man whose game could fit nicely alongside a defensive-minded center like Mitchell Robinson. Love’s years of experience and possible insight on the game could also prove to be very valuable to a Knicks team filled with young players, as he has been to the postseason multiple times and has a championship to show for it.
Despite these benefits of adding Love to the team, plus the fact that he should be relatively easy to acquire in terms of what the Knicks would have to give up, the negatives simply outweigh the positives. The main burden is his contract. Love signed a 4-year, $120 million dollar contract extension with the Cavaliers back in 2018, which is paying him close to $29 million dollars this season. The next two seasons that number rises to over $31 million dollars, then it falls back down to $29 million in 2022, and Love becomes an unrestricted free agent in 2023. Having that much money tied to a player who has had injury concerns throughout his career and is on the wrong side of 30 is not ideal, to say the least.
On top of that, Love reportedly had problems with former Cavaliers head coach John Beilein this season and was not afraid to voice his displeasure through public outbursts at both Beilein and the front office. Tim McMahon, co-host of the ‘Brian Windhorst and the Hoop Collective’ podcast, talked about the role Love played in driving out Beilein:
“Kevin Love did everything but rent a billboard saying Beilein sucks. There was zero percent chance of Beilein, and it wasn’t gonna work regardless, but with Kevin Love around, that was gonna be a complete disaster. Because he was going to make it clear how much he thought this coach was over his head, and he was gonna be right.”
Love also showed frustration with teammates at times as a result of the constant losing, acting childish numerous times on the court, and displaying no class whatsoever. Who’s to say he won’t act up again if the Knicks continue to lose next season and beyond. This isn’t to say that Love is a bad person, but taking a gamble on a veteran who has a history of showing poor leadership at times is the absolute last thing the Knicks need right now.
Look, Love is a great player and a strong mental health advocate. He averaged 18.2 points and 11.1 rebounds for his career, and in 56 games for the Cavaliers this season, he averaged 17.6 points, 9.8 rebounds, and 3.2 assists. But, while Love would undoubtedly boost the Knicks offense, there are just too many questions marks for them to commit so much money to him. If they trade for him and it comes back to bite them, that could set the Knicks back even further and stunt their rebuilding plan.