3 Players Who Need to Step Up for the Cavaliers After the Kevin Love Buyout

Kevin Love's time in the Land has ended. Now it's up to these three players to step up and lead the Cleveland Cavaliers in his absence. Read on to find out who they are.
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3 Players Who Need to Step Up for the Cavaliers After the Kevin Love Buyout

It was a bumpy ride from start to finish for Kevin Love but after nine seasons with the Cleveland Cavaliers, a new era has officially begun. Love finalized a buyout earlier this week and has joined the Miami Heat.

What does this mean for the franchise? Not much, currently. Love had already been delegated to the bench, completely out of the rotation for nearly a month before agreeing to a buyout.

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But underneath the surface, Love's departure could have an impact. His veteran presence and floor-spacing abilities are gone. The Cavs have lost some depth and more importantly, a leader.

With Love gone, a few players will need to step up.

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3 Players Who Need to Step Up for the Cavaliers After the Kevin Love Buyout

Danny Green

“I looked around the locker room like, ‘Damn, I’m the oldest guy here.’”

At 35 years of age, Danny Green would have been the oldest player on the roster even with Kevin Love. But now that Love's gone, Green is one of the only adults in the room, with Robin Lopez, Raul Neto, and Ricky Rubio serving as the only other Cavs over the age of 28.

More importantly, Green is the most experienced player on the roster, with 15 years and three championships with multiple franchises under his belt. Green is now the only member of the team to win a title.

As a last-second addition on the buyout market, Green isn't exactly an asset the Cavs planned on relying upon during the playoffs. But the team is certainly hoping the 3-and-D vet has some gas left in the tank because it will be sink or swim for the rest of the gang as they enter their first playoff run.

Green has the potential to benefit them both on the court and off. He'll be asked to serve as a mentor -- and could truly help a developing wing like Isaac Okoro put the pieces together. But green can also contribute as a two-way forward on his own.

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  3. Ranking the Top 5 Cleveland Cavaliers Individual Performances Since 2000

Dean Wade

Speaking of two-way forwards, Dean Wade is running out of time to cement himself in the rotation.

Last season, Wade was a breakout player for Cleveland. An undrafted prospect who was showing real signs of growth as a 3-point shooter and versatile defender. Since then, Wade has struggled with injuries and uncertainty.

Wade is averaging just 5.5 points on a respectable 38.7% clip from deep. He's lacked confidence, or a willingness to fire away when he's open. This, combined with a shoulder injury, caused Wade to lose his spot in the starting lineup to Okoro (who has more than earned his role).

Before, Love could serve as a "break in case of emergency" option in the playoffs if Wade proved to be less than desired. Now, Wade will be the last line of defense on the wing, as JB Bickerstaff has shown a reluctance to trust Cedi Osman in big games.

Of course, the aforementioned Danny Green could wind up playing in place of Wade. Still, it would be a luxury if Wade was able to step up and solidify himself as a consistent, NBA-caliber threat.

Donovan Mitchell

An unlikely member of the team who will no doubt be impacted by Kevin Love's departure is Donovan Mitchell. That's because, with Love out of the picture, Mitchell is officially the face of the franchise.

While Love's production has decreased over the years, his popularity never did. Love still received the loudest ovations of anyone in Cleveland and to most casual fans, Love was still the household name.

This is no longer the case. A new era of Cavs basketball is underway and leading the charge is Mitchell. He's the oldest member of the young core and an established four-time All-Star.

Mitchell has already battled in the playoffs, recording the third-most points in a single playoff game with 57 points against the Denver Nuggets in 2020. He's a proven postseason performer and the Cavs' unrivaled best scorer.

Rising stars such as Darius Garland, Jarrett Allen, and Evan Mobley will play their part in shaping the future of Cavs basketball -- but as of now, the burden of leading Cleveland to another title rests on Mitchell's shoulders. This is his city now and it's up to him to start the new era with a bang.

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Tony Pesta graduated from Cleveland State University in 2022 with a degree in journalism. He covers the Cleveland Cavaliers for Fear the Sword and OddsChecker. You can follow him on Twitter at @Tony_Pesta.


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