Potential Packages for Lakers to Finally Land Kevin Love

Cleveland Cavaliers Receive: SF/PF Luol Deng, SG/SF Josh Hart, SF/PF Kyle Kuzma, No. 25 pick ($1,746,840)

Los Angeles Lakers Receive: PF/C Kevin Love

Signing James would likely take the Lakers out of the running for Love. Landing Paul George or whiffing superstars altogether would not.

Adding Love elevates the ceiling without compromising long-term flexibility. He has a $25.6 million player option for 2019-20, which he’s likely to decline so he can enter free agency.

Though the Lakers have the wiggle room to absorb Love’s salary without sending back anything, this trade protects that breathability. They’re tacking on less than $2 million in extra salary, so they can snag Love after burning cap space on the open market or stay similarly lean for midseason trades.

Losing what amounts to three first-rounders would sting. Hart and Kuzma proved to be capable rotation staples as rookies, and jettisoning the prospect they take at No. 25 exhausts the stable of non-Lonzo Ball, non-Brandon Ingram trade chips.

Lopping off the final two years and $36.8 million on Deng’s contract is worth it. Love can help the Lakers now, and removing Deng’s 2019-20 salary positions them to be free-agent players again next summer even if they sign some combination of George, Julius Randle (restricted) and another marquee name.

The Cavaliers may balk at rostering a contract that extends past 2018-19, but they’ll be working with a suboptimal asset base if James bolts. The No. 8 pick, Cedi Osman and Ante Zizic isn’t much of a foundation.

Grabbing Hart, Kuzma and another 2018 prospect gives them a semblance of an infrastructure. And Deng’s salary will be long gone by the time they’re ready to play for anything special.