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Kevin Love wasted no time. He is officially a member of the Miami Heat.
The five-time All-Star and 15-year NBA veteran cleared waivers Monday afternoon, then signed a contract to join the Heat for the rest of the season not long after. The now-former Cleveland Cavaliers forward was in Miami for the signing, with plans to begin training at his new team facility immediately.
Love’s first official practice with Miami is scheduled for Thursday when the team returns from its All-Star break, and he could make his Heat debut as early as Friday in Milwaukee.
Love is an NBA champion, an Olympic champion and a FIBA World Cup champion. He is 42nd on the NBA’s 3-pointers list with 1,536, which ranks 19th among players in the league.
Heat center Bam Adebayo — who hoped Love would come to Miami if the Cavaliers bought him out — said he planned to call coach Erik Spoelstra on Monday to start a conversation about how he and Love could play alongside each other.
“Spo is smart. He’ll figure out how we’re going to handle things,” Adebayo told The Associated Press. “It’s exciting. We have fresh legs on the team. We have a guy like Kevin Love, who has been through these wars, came back from 3-1 (with Cleveland against Golden State in the 2016 NBA Finals). You have a battle-tested guy who’s won. That’s big for us.”
Over parts of 15 NBA seasons with Cleveland and Minnesota, Love has averaged 17.2 points and 10.5 rebounds. He averaged 8.5 points, 6.8 rebounds and 20 minutes per game in 41 games, almost all as a reserve, this season for Cleveland and did not play in the team’s final 12 games before the All-Star break.
That’s what led to the buyout talks, and eventually, Love coming to the Heat. He also spoke with the Philadelphia 76ers.
When thinking about what it means to add love to the Heat, Adebayo draws parallels between himself and two other players — current Heat forward Udonis Haslem when it comes to leadership, and former Heat center Meyers Leonard when it comes to things like a ability to space. the floor, talk about defense and bring help to defend the rim.
“He’s smart, he stretches the floor, and you can learn from a guy like that, to have a guy like that in your corner,” Adebayo said. “He and UD, two different walks of life, but now they are in a way going in the same direction. Having guys like that, it will help me enormously. He is an absolutely fantastic person.”
Love will wear No. 42, which he wore during his college days at UCLA and while playing for Minnesota.
The Heat on Monday also announced the signing of another big man – free agent center Cody Zeller. He has averaged 8.5 points and 6.0 rebounds in 494 games with Charlotte and Portland.
The 6-foot-11 center was the fourth pick in the 2013 draft.
“He’s really underrated as a team player,” Adebayo said. “He’s underrated for what he does. I know what he will bring to our team will make us more successful.”
Miami comes out of the All-Star break in seventh in the Eastern Conference at 32-27, five games behind Cleveland for the No. 4 spot. The top four teams in each conference will have home court advantage in the first round of the playoffs, and the top six in each conference will avoid the play-in tournament to determine the seventh and eighth seeding.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.