The Cavaliers would have benefitted from having another shooter and rebounder in their first-round series against the Knicks in the 2023 NBA Playoffs.
Ironically, they had someone earlier in the season who checked both of those boxes.
The last remaining member of the franchise's championship team, Kevin Love started 2022-23 in Cleveland but ended up in Miami after the Cavaliers decided to part ways with him. To rub salt in Cleveland's wound, Love has since played a key role in the Heat's stunning postseason success.
What led to Love's departure from the Cavaliers? Let's take a closer look.
How did the Heat get Kevin Love?
The Cavaliers announced that they had reached a buyout agreement with Love on Feb. 18, 2023. Two days later, the Heat announced that they had signed him for the rest of the season after he had cleared waivers.
Love finished second in Sixth Man of the Year voting in the 2021-22 season, but he struggled to recapture that form in 2022-23. In the 41 games he played with the Cavaliers before being bought out, he averaged 8.5 points and 6.8 rebounds on 38.9 percent shooting from the field and 35.4 percent from 3-point range.
Love played through a hairline fracture in his right thumb that he suffered in mid-November. While he missed only one game, the injury seemed to impact his shooting touch.
|Before thumb injury||After thumb injury|
|Points per game||11.3||6.8|
|Field goal percentage||42.5||36.4|
Love eventually fell out of the Cavaliers head coach J.B. Bickerstaff's rotation. After sitting out 12 straight games in the second half of the season, news broke on Feb. 16 that he had made a "formal request" for a buyout, paving the way for him to sign with the Heat.
The Athletic's Shams Charania reported at the time that other teams interested in Love believed the Heat's "ability to offer a defined role and playoff positioning" were leading factors in them quickly emerging as the front-runners to sign him. Love averaged the exact same number of minutes with the Heat as he did with the Cavaliers (20.0), but he started in 17 of the 21 games he appeared in.
The Heat created the roster spot they used to sign Love by trading Dewayne Dedmon and a second-round pick to the Spurs for cash at the trade deadline.
Kevin Love contract details
Love reached a buyout agreement with the Cavaliers in the final year of his contract. According to Spotrac's Keith Smith, he gave up $1.5 million as part of his agreement.
The Heat signed Love using the remaining $3.1 million of their bi-annual exception, per Ira Winderman of the Sun Sentinel. He'll be an unrestricted free agent at the season's end.