Independence: Kevin Love signed his new contract and proudly put on a hard hat.
The Cleveland Cavaliers will rebuild around him.
The All-Star forward made a long-term commitment to the franchise by signing a four-year, $120 million extension with the Cavaliers, who believe Love can help them stay competitive following LeBron James’ departure.
The 29-year-old Love, who was nearly traded twice by Cleveland, signed the extension in front of dozens of construction workers inside Quicken Loans Arena, the team’s downtown home, which is undergoing a $140-million renovation not unlike the makeover taking place with the four-time defending Eastern Conference champions.
The symbolic moment wasn’t lost on Love, who came to Cleveland four years ago to join James and Kyrie Irving and form the Cavs’ ‘Big 3.’
It’s now his team.
“I look back, everything happens for a reason,” Love said. “My best friend from back home said, ‘It always works out.’ This is where I wanted to be. I’ve said that all along. There were some tough times where potentially I would have been traded and my name came up in rumours every few months. But hopefully that ends now.”
Love didn’t know when he arrived at the arena that he would be meeting with carpenters, electricians, plumbers and team employees to celebrate his signing. General manager Koby Altman wanted to surprise him.
Moments after signing, Love took a selfie with the workers and posted it on Instagram.
“It wasn’t even my idea, but I thought it was great,” Love said. “I had all the people behind me. It’s almost like, to me it’s not a rebuild, because we have talent, we have championship-calibre guys, and we have young and fresh guys that are going to be willing to learn and come along in this league.
“I think guys putting on their hard hats and coming to work every day — that has to be the identity to our team, and I think we have guys that are cut from that cloth and are going to be willing to go out there and prove themselves.”