In a story published on The Ringer, written by our very own Wes Goldberg, Kevin Love revealed that he has no intentions of retiring any time soon and has indicated he has enjoyed his brief tenure with Miami, opening the door for a potential re-signing in the 2023 offseason.
"“I know it’s like a rental-type situation when you’re in a buyout, but I’ve really enjoyed my time here so far. So we’ll see.”"
After spending nine seasons with the Cleveland Cavaliers, the five-time All-Star Love accepted a buyout on February 18 and signed a one-year, prorated veteran’s minimum contract with Miami on February 20. He has played 21 games with Miami, starting 17 of them, and has averaged 7.7 points, 5.7 rebounds, and 1.9 assists per game while shooting 38.8% from the field (63.2% on two pointers) and 29.7% from 3-point range on nearly five attempts a game. He is also tied for the team lead in charges drawn (16) despite his late arrival to the club.
The Ringer feature also shares that Love, 34, cited the opportunity for playing time with Miami as a reason why he chose them over other suitors such as the Philadelphia 76ers, and he has averaged an on-the-dot 20.0 minutes per game in a Heat uniform. However, his role shifted quite suddenly in April, going from a starting power forward to a backup center over his last four games of the regular season.
Miami has long worked to find the right long-term frontcourt partner for All-Star center Bam Adebayo and committed to playing various small-ball lineups with 6-foot-5 Caleb Martin playing the nominal starting 4 spot for most of this season.
Love, once on board, was immediately given the starting power forward role, but his inability to sink 3-pointers at his career norms (Love did fracture his right thumb in mid-November, which could explain his subpar 3-point percentage this year) and his defensive limitations led head coach Erik Spoelstra to pivot and instead allow Love to help anchor the second unit as a small-ball 5 and juice what had been a flailing offense.
Though the sample is small, there may be something to the shift as the Heat have gone 7-10 with Love as a starter, but 4-0 in the games he has come off the bench. However, Love saw a paltry three minutes off the bench in Miami’s play-in loss to Atlanta last night.
The Heat have a huge offseason ahead of them, and part of that involves deciding what frontcourt pieces fit best around a Jimmy Butler-Bam Adebayo build. Love is a very well-respected veteran with championship experience and, if his shooting ever resembles more of what he offered in Cleveland and Minnesota, he very well could be worth bringing back to this group.
Historically, however, Miami doesn’t have a history of bringing back buyout players the next season (see: Luther Head, Rafer Alston, Mike Bibby, Ronny Turiaf, Joe Johnson). Facing a do-or-die play-in game for the no. 8-seed on Friday, how much or how little Love plays could clue in on whether Miami reciprocates Love’s desire to continue this partnership.