Well it appears we have ourselves a series.

Cleveland returned home and played an inspiring Game 3 — defeating Golden State by 30 points — and did so without the services of Kevin Love.

I’m not going to go as far as to say the beatdown was because Love was absent from the lineup, because the Cavs were going to win that game with or without him. But that’s also the problem.

Cleveland doesn’t need Love to win. Which is exactly why trades will be explored this summer.

Swapping Stars

Kind of speaks for itself. Cleveland will want to get the best player they can to replace Love.

New York Knicks


Let me let you in on a little secret — LeBron likes playing basketball with his friends. One of his oldest friends in the league is Carmelo, and the two have long discussed becoming teammates. What better way than having ‘Melo join you in your hometown to bring that title to Cleveland? The problem is that the Knicks want to get younger and may not want Love … more on this later.

Los Angeles Clippers


Do I have to explain this one? The Clippers need a shake up. The Cavs need a shake up. Both players could be better fits on their new teams. Blake had some issues in L.A. last season. Why make this trade? Why not? Griffin probably has higher value than Love, though and Cleveland doesn’t have any assets to sweeten the pot.

Houston Rockets


Dwight would opt out of his contract and essentially make this a sign and trade. Love could step into the new Mike D’Antoni offense flawlessly. Run the floor with James Harden, let 3-pointers fly and fail to play defense? Perfect. The Cavs slow down the game with Howard in the middle and essentially try and beat the Warriors by becoming exact opposites.

Atlanta Hawks


Another sign and trade here. Korver is included to make the money work, but by the time Horford signs his deal, he’d be an even swap money-wise for Love. Not sure if this would benefit Atlanta at all, but if they feel Horford is a goner, maybe gaining Love would be of interest. The Cavs simply get a better player and a better fit in Horford.

Ponies For A Horse

If Cleveland can’t bring back a star for Love, it becomes time to explore other options that bring back the right combination of role players.

Boston Celtics


The Celtics can offer a package that gives the Cavs the perfect combination of winning parts, but do they want to? Bradley and Crowder could help the Cavs immensely, and are huge parts of Boston’s core that won 48 games. But maybe the C’s really are that desperate for a big name?

Denver Nuggets


Denver’s got nothing to lose. When you’re at the bottom of the Western Conference in this day and age you make any deal you can to improve your talent. The Cavs get a shooter in Gallinari to essentially fill Love’s role, while Faried provides Tristan Thompson type energy off the bench. Cleveland probably wins the trade again based on players that fit better, but teams will do crazy things for “stars.”

Oklahoma City Thunder


Let’s really mix it up. OKC is desperate to keep Durant, and looking another year in the future, desperate to hang onto Westbrook. Adding Love could help do that. If OKC can overtake the Warriors by adding Love (a UCLA teammate of Westbrook) then maybe they build a “Big Three” that will be happy staying together in the future. Remember how many 3-pointers Ibaka was launching in the postseason? Love is a much better shooter, and Steven Adams has emerged as the rim protecter on that team, lessening Ibaka’s value. Brilliant. For the Cavs it’s addition by subtraction. A player like Ibaka fits their system better, and they get a couple of role players tossed in.

Go Big Or Go Home

As mentioned, the Cavs top option for Love has to be Carmelo. Here’s how we make that happen.

LA Lakers

3way celtics

3way knicks

Now we’re talking.

The Cavs (LeBron) would love to make this happen. Boston and L.A. can send combinations of young talent New York’s way, while taking Love back in exchange. In the trade above, the Celtics would be including the No. 3 overall pick in the draft to make it happen — a steep price when you add Smart. But if they can use a future Nets’ pick with other young talent to then add another star (think Jimmy Butler), it potentially becomes worth the price.

The Lakers are in the exact same boat. If they could acquire Love with their prospects and keep the No. 2 pick in the draft, they could then use that chip to add more talent. Even if the Knicks prefer the No. 2 pick, L.A. could hang onto Russell and make him the cornerstone of another deal. Everyone gets what they want.

Find me on Twitter @julianedlow