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Kevin Love completes contract buyout with Cavaliers

Several contending teams are likely to pursue the 15-year veteran, who was a key figure in Cleveland's 2016 championship team.

Kevin Love is averaging 8.5 points and 6.8 rebounds with Cleveland this season.

SALT LAKE CITY (AP) — Kevin Love and the Cleveland Cavaliers have completed a buyout of his contract, the team announced Saturday.

The five-time All-Star is strongly considering a move to the Miami Heat, two people with knowledge of the matter said Saturday. The people spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because Love will still have to clear waivers before he can sign with a new team.

With the announcement of the buyout, Cavaliers President of Basketball Operations Koby Altman also said the team would one day retire his jersey in Cleveland.

“Kevin Love had an outstanding run with the Cavaliers, including memorable on-court moments, four NBA Finals appearances and an NBA Championship in 2016,” said Altman. “Kevin represented the organization and the city of Cleveland with the utmost charm and professionalism during his nine seasons in Northeast Ohio.  He also embodied everything a franchise would want in a player, and the admiration and gratitude we have for him will ultimately land his jersey in the rafters of Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse. We thank Kevin for his impact and wish him nothing but the best, knowing that he has solidified his place in the hearts of Cavaliers fans and this organization forever.”

Other teams are expected to try to talk to Love, who is making $31.3 million this season, before he finalizes a decision, one of the people told the AP.

Love, 34, has been with Cleveland since 2014 and was the last remaining link to the 2016 team that won the NBA title and ended the city’s 52-year pro sports championship drought.

This season, he’s averaging career-lows of 8.5 points, 6.8 rebounds and 20 minutes per game. But over parts of 15 NBA seasons with Cleveland and Minnesota, Love has averaged 17.2 points and 10.5 rebounds. He’s also a 37% career shooter from 3-point range, and helped USA Basketball win both Olympic and FIBA World Cup gold medals.

Love is in the final year of a $120 million, four-year extension he signed in 2018. He did not play in any of Cleveland’s last 12 games before the All-Star break and his representatives approached the Cavaliers about the buyout.

Miami created the flexibility to absorb at least one player in a buyout situation by trading away Dewayne Dedmon to San Antonio earlier this month in exchange for cash considerations. That essentially opened a roster spot for at least one move.

Cleveland entered the break fourth in the Eastern Conference at 38-23. Miami is seventh in the East at 32-27, a half-game behind No. 6 New York.