Five-time All-Star Kevin Love remains in the Cavaliers’ plans even if LeBron James elects to leave Cleveland for the second time when free agency opens at 12:01 a.m. Sunday.

Love’s name has repeatedly come up in trade rumors and according to ESPN, he was nearly dealt to Indiana last summer for the Pacers’ Paul George.

But should four-time league Most Valuable Player James depart, the Cavs intend to remain competitive and believe Love can lead a talented roster of veterans and up-and-coming young players.

“The plan is not to go backwards,” one source said.

That strategy would seemingly rule out major moves, such as trading draftee Collin Sexton, without knowing James’ intention for next season.

It also reinforces the fact that last season, the Cavs kept the lottery pick acquired in the Aug. 22 Kyrie Irving deal, using it to select 19-year-old Alabama point guard Sexton eighth overall. The Cavs believe their future looks promising with Sexton and the players acquired at the trade deadline, which includes Larry Nance Jr., Jordan Clarkson and restricted free agent Rodney Hood.

On draft night, Cavs General Manager Koby Altman did not agree with the suggestion that they held on to the draft pick in case James leaves. The Cavs made the NBA Finals for the fourth consecutive year before being swept by the Golden State Warriors.

“I don’t know if we looked at it as that,” Altman said on June 21. “Obviously, when we made the trade, we were making it to draft the pick. We listened to a lot of different opportunities during the year. Nothing came to the level of franchise-changer that we thought was going to help us get back to the Finals and into the future. Nothing was available that we felt was like, ‘OK, we have to do it.’

“Now could we have traded it and gotten a veteran who could’ve helped us? Maybe. We’re way more excited about the fact that we held on to it, what we did at the deadline, what those acquisitions did in the playoffs and how much they grew. Now putting this all together in a training camp and having some continuity moving forward, what that’s going to do for our franchise. I think it’s really going to help our momentum.”

Love, 29, has two years remaining on the five-year, $113 million contract he signed in July 2015. He carries a $24.1 million salary for 2018-19 and a player option worth $25.5 million in 2019-20. He has averaged 18.3 points and 11.3 rebounds during his 10-year career, 19.2 points and 12.2 rebounds in his first six years with the Minnesota Timberwolves.

According to Joe Vardon of Cleveland.com, the Cavs are also interested in re-signing forward Jeff Green, 31, who played last season on a one-year veteran minimum deal worth $2.3 million.

The Los Angeles Lakers, Cavs and Philadelphia 76ers are considered the frontrunners in the pursuit of James, who declined his contract option of $35.6 million for next season on Friday and became a free agent.

The Cavs won 19, 21, 24 and 33 games during the four seasons after James left for the Miami Heat in the summer of 2010.

Marla Ridenour can be reached at mridenour@thebeaconjournal.com. Read the Cavs blog at www.ohio.com/cavs. Follow her on Twitter at www.twitter.com/MRidenourABJ.