1) LeBron James and Kyrie Irving are going to dominate the ball on any team they are on. LeBron's career usage rating is 32.1 and it has been below 29 once (his first season in Miami) while Kyrie's career usage rating is 28.2 and it has been below 28 once (last season). They bring the ball up the floor and they like to play with the ball in their hands so that's never going to change.
2) Kevin Love is bad on defense. He doesn't have quick feet and he doesn't have long arms so the only way to maximize his game is to feature him on offense.
3) There's no way to feature Love when he's playing with Kyrie and LeBron. There just aren't enough basketballs to go around.
4) Love has to be on a team that features him on offense and protects him on defense but the Cavs need the third member of their Big Three to be someone who can be minimized on offense and featured on defense.
5) The role that Love has on this team - three-point shooting, rebounding and post defense - doesn't require a max contract. The Cavs are paying him to do things they don't need him to do.
The obvious conclusion is that Cleveland needs to redistribute Love's salary to guys who fit better around their best two players. To redistribute salaries and roles in a way that makes more sense, you'd want to turn Love into a stretch 4 who doesn't have as much shot-creating ability and another 6'7+ wing defender who could slide LeBron down to the PF position.
It's hard to find trades that would make sense for Kevin Love given that he's not being allowed to fully showcase his game in Cleveland even though he's still being paid like he's a first option. No matter how you slice it, the Cavs would not be getting 100 cents on the dollar but team in their position rarely do. It's all about putting a team together that is better than the sum of their parts and the way they are using Love means they will always be less than theirs.
1) Love to Portland for Al-Farouq Aminu, Meyers Leonard and Allen Crabbe
2) Love to Boston for Jae Crowder, Kelly Olynyk and Avery Bradley
3) Love to Houston for Trevor Ariza, Donatas Motiejunas and Corey Brewer
4) Love to Orlando for Aaron Gordon, Channing Frye and Jason Smith
All four of those trades would give Cleveland a stretch 4 that would allow them to save some wear and tear on LeBron's body in the regular season and a versatile defender at the 3/4 positions that would allow them to play smaller and faster in the playoffs. Leonard, Motiejunas and Frye are also more capable of sliding down to the 5 position and providing more of a defensive presence when LeBron is at the 4. It's not to say that any of them are as good at Kevin Love but they can all stand behind a big man in the post and stretch out the defense on the other end of the floor - which is all that Love does for Cleveland anyway! - while making less money which allows Cleveland to have another big 3-and-D player on the perimeter.
LeBron is best at the 4 at this point in his career so the skill-sets that make the most sense next to him are a rim-protecting 5 who can stretch the floor and a three-point shooting wing who can slide between the 3 and the 4 positions. The Cavs don't have either one of those players at the moment so they might as well turn their primary option at the 4 position who doesn't play any defense into them. They'll run out the string in this year's playoffs and hope the Royal Rumble out West wears out their competition and maybe gives them some injury luck in the Finals. If that doesn't work, though, and they have to play Love 15-20 minutes a game when the season is on the line, they might as well go to Plan B.
Said on pod 2 weeks ago: if Finals rematch, CLE may have to view Love as 15-20 min player. Not gonna win if GSW can put him in infinite PNR— Zach Lowe (@ZachLowe_NBA) January 19, 2016