CLEVELAND (AP) – Kevin Love’s poolside chat with superstar LeBron James convinced him to jump back in with the Cavaliers.
Love, who announced last week that he will stay in Cleveland, said Thursday that he and James had a “very honest” talk before free agency opened and the discussion led him to re-signing with the Cavs, a team he hopes to help win an NBA championship.
The Love-James relationship was constantly analyzed last season as the Cavs tried to mesh new players under first-year coach David Blatt.
There were some awkward periods, but Love indicated on a video posted on The Players’ Tribune that any issues between he and James were resolved when they met shortly before free agency opened.
“He happened to be in Los Angeles the same time I was,” Love said of James, who remains a free agent but will re-sign with Cleveland.
“So, we just talked everything out and a lot of stuff was very honest and we came to a really good place and we agreed on a lot of things, so I think that was also a very big deal when you’re talking to the best player in the world.”
The pair were photographed sitting near a pool and Love said “it turns out pools are great meeting places” when he revealed he would re-sign with Cleveland.
Love said his new contract with the Cavs is “inked and official.” The team has not made an official announcement.
The league set its salary cap for the 2015-16 season on Wednesday, and based on the new data, Love will get a five-year, $113.2 million contract. His salary for next season will be $19.69 million.
But Love said his desire to win a title with the Cavs outweighed every other consideration when deciding where to continue his career.
He was unable to play in the NBA Finals after suffering a serious shoulder injury in the opening round against Boston and undergoing surgery.
Love said watching the Warriors celebrate after winning Game 6 in Cleveland motivated him to return to the Cavs, who pulled off a blockbuster trade last summer to pair him with James and All-Star guard Kyrie Irving.
“I expressed this to LeBron and he’d been through it a couple of times now – I can actually go wherever I want and pick the team I want to play for,” Love said.
“But every time I went through the different scenarios I always came out at the same place, and that was to be in Cleveland and try to win championships. I would be able to really help this team win and going forward make a very big impact on this team and on this city, trying to bring a championship or championships.”
Love was the Cavs’ first free-agent move, but not the only one.
James is waiting for the team to complete a deal with forward Tristan Thompson, who is represented by the four-time MVP’s agent, Rich Paul, before he’s expected to get a two-year contract similar to the one he signed last summer. James’ salary will jump to $22.97 million next season.
Also, the Cavs are expected to announce the signings of guards Iman Shumpert and Mo Williams.
J.R. Smith, acquired in a trade during the season, remains a free agent and it’s not clear if the Cavs will re-sign him. He opted out of a $6.4 million contract last week and hit the market.
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