Cavs feel the Love as Kevin's set to return
KEVIN Love announced on Wednesday he will return to the Cleveland Cavaliers next season, with the 26-year-old power forward reportedly agreeing to a five-year deal worth US$110 million (S$148 million) to remain in Cleveland.
Love, obtained last year from Minnesota in a major trade, suffered a separated left shoulder in the first round of the National Basketball Association play-offs and could only watch as the Cavaliers lost to Golden State in the NBA Finals.
"I'm going back to Cleveland," Love said on the Players' Tribune website. "We're all on the same page and we're all in. We have unfinished business and now it's time to get back to work."
His announcement came on the first day of free agency for the 2015-16 campaign.
Players can talk terms with clubs and make deals, but no contracts can be signed until July 9, meaning most news will come from reports and unnamed sources until confirmations come next week.
Love had opted out of a deal that would have paid him US$16.7 million next season to test the free agent waters, but ESPN reported he was cashing in for a maximum money deal with Cleveland.
After years of wishing he could play on a title contender, he accepted a reduced role to play for a team that was a championship threat.
"After Game 1 of the NBA Finals, that's when it really struck me," Love said. "Sitting on the sidelines, I never wanted to play in a game more than that one. I had dreamed of playing in the NBA Finals and I just wanted to help my guys win... it was clear Cleveland was the place for me."
In addition to Love and superstar LeBron James, who is a free agent but unlikely to leave the Cavaliers, Cleveland will welcome back guard Iman Shumpert and forward Tristan Thompson.
According to multiple reports, Shumpert agreed to a four-year deal worth US$40 million while Thompson was expected to negotiate a deal worth US$80 million for five years.
Golden State forward Draymond Green announced he has signed a five-year deal to stay with the NBA champions.
While earlier reports said negotiations had reached an impasse, he posted a video on sports site Bleacher Report to say he was delighted to return to the organisation.
"Proud to say that I'll be a Warrior for at least the next five years," said Green, who started 79 games for the Warriors last season and averaged career highs in points (11.7), rebounds (8.2), assists (3.7), blocks (1.3), steals (1.6) and shooting percentage (44.3), and finished runner-up for Defensive Player of the Year.
Media reports said his deal was worth US$85 million.
DeMarre Carroll announced his new four-year deal for US$60 million with Toronto on his Instagram account, leaving the Atlanta Hawks for the Raptors.
But the Hawks came to terms with forward Paul Millsap on a three-year deal worth US$59 million, according to multiple reports.
The Chicago Bulls have agreed to a five-year deal worth US$90 million with guard Jimmy Butler, ESPN reported.
Chicago also came to terms on a three-year deal with forward Mike Dunleavy worth US$14.4 million.
The long-term moves bring security but could be a bargain for clubs in the coming years, when the salary cap will skyrocket thanks to new record television deals starting to bring huge revenues for teams.
The New Orleans Pelicans agreed to terms on a five-year deal for US$145 million with star forward Anthony Davis, who averaged 24.4 points and 10.2 rebounds last season.
"I am here to stay! Just getting started," he tweeted about the deal, reportedly the richest in NBA history, far surpassing Kobe Bryant's seven-year, US$136 million deal with the Los Angeles Lakers.
The San Antonio Spurs agreed to a maximum five-year deal for US$90 million to keep forward Kawhi Leonard, and a four-year contract worth US$45 million with outside shooting threat Danny Green.
AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE, REUTERS