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Kevin Love signs long-term extension with Cavaliers

You can put those Kevin Love trade rumors to rest. The 5-time all-star forward does not appear to being headed anywhere in the near future.

News broke Tuesday morning that Love would be signing a four-year, $120 million extension to remain with the Wine & Gold.

While many speculated Love would be dealt as part of the Cavaliers efforts to rebuild, it is now clear Love is going to be the centerpiece of the team moving forward. With the majority of the team from a year ago slated to be back, the front office likely wants to avoid a massive overhaul and gut the team.

With pieces such as Love, Collin Sexton, Larry Nance Jr, Tristan Thompson and Rodney Hood (assuming the Cavaliers bring him back) still on the team, things will likely go much better for the Wine & Gold than in 2010 when LeBron left the first time.

Love has adapted his game since being acquired by the Cavaliers. Some games he was asked to play more in the post, but other games he would look for his outside shot first. His game was all built around LeBron, which had to have been frustrating at times.

Now with LeBron on the Lakers, Love will be looked upon as the No. 1 option, which means he will revert back to his Minnesota days where he would regularly score over 20 points and grab 12-15 rebounds a night. With the improvement in his long-range game the past four seasons, Love is going to be a dynamic offensive threat.

The re-signing of Kevin Love is also big for Cavaliers owner Dan Gilbert, who was here the first time James departed. Gilbert even made it a point last year when he said they are not going mortgage the future of the team for short-term success. He had this in mind knowing he did not want to get burned again, like 2010.

Thinking about the reaction toward Kevin when he first arrived in Cleveland to what it is now is night and day. That first season with the Cavaliers was fueled by constant speculation that Love would leave after just one season of being with the team. That however turned out to be false as he would go on to sign a four-year extension to remain a core part of the team.

Now fast forward four years. Love is the only player from the Cavaliers version of the “Big 3” left. He is the only one who committed to the team long-term after it was thought he would be the first one out the door.

Loyalty is rare in professional sports today. Yes, LeBron came home and said he was here to stay. That obviously was not the case. Kevin Durant left Oklahoma City for the team that beat the Thunder in the playoffs. So when an all-star, who is in his prime, wants to stay in Cleveland. That is a big victory for the Cavaliers front office.

Love’s struggles are well-documented and often times the leading narrative when Kevin is talked about. We forget he helped the Cavaliers win a title. We forget he once scored 34 points in a single quarter. We forget those laser floor-length passes. Instead many want to pound the fact Love is not a great defender.

Yes, Love will never be on any all-defense team, but when he puts in the effort Love has shown flashes of defensive ability. But what he lacks on the defensive end, he more than makes up for on the offensive end and on the boards.

When LeBron left the first time, the team was left with little talent and they suffered greatly. With Love as the focal point moving forward and other veterans on the team, this time without LeBron will be different. Love was rewarded for his loyalty and the hope is that he will lead the Cavaliers back to prominence in the Eastern Conference.

While these first couple years could be rough in Cleveland, especially after four straight NBA Finals appearances, there is hope for the future.

Who would have thought a kid from the West Coast with dreams of playing for the Lakers, would commit to playing basketball long-term in Cleveland. But that is life, you arrive in a city without knowing much about it and over time fall in love with the people and the culture.

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