If you asked any fan of the Cleveland Cavaliers what they want for the NBA’s equivalent of Christmas this year, they’d tell you that for this free agency, all they want is for LeBron James to come home. They already fixed up Kyrie Irving with a max contract extension and got to open up No. 1 draft selection Andrew Wiggins on Christmas Eve, so they wouldn’t be greedy and ask for Kevin Love too. All the Cavs really want under the tree now is LeBron James.
Then again, what’s Christmastime without a little Love?
A new NBA rumor started floating around Wednesday morning from Cleveland talk show host Tony Rizzo that the Cavs have a trade in place to acquire Love from the Minnesota Timberwolves and that the ball is now in Minny’s court. Jon Krawczynski, an NBA beat writer for the Associated Press in Minneapolis, refuted the report this morning, but for the sake of being thorough (and having a little fun), let’s take a look at what a potential deal could look like.
After engineering a three-team trade with the Brooklyn Nets and Boston Celtics that unloaded the contracts of Jarrett Jack, Tyler Zeller and Sergey Karasev, the Cavs have nearly $22 million in cap space to sign LeBron to the max contract he wants.
The Cavs have also reportedly been pursuing Ray Allen and Mike Miller to make LeBron’s surroundings a little more comfortable and familiar. Allen and Miller would both have to take pay cuts, but it’s a small price to pay (pun intended) to play with the world’s best basketball player. However, even a Cavs team with LeBron, Kyrie and Wiggins wouldn’t be good enough to contend for a title in their first year together, so why would LeBron abandon a Miami Heat team that’s been to four straight NBA Finals?
@Matthew_Tynan Here’s where I totally disagree. The Cavs aren’t good. Unless they can somehow swing a Love trade, that is.
— Ethan Strauss (@SherwoodStrauss) July 9, 2014
Enter Kevin Love, one of the league’s best power forwards (if not THE best) who averaged 26.1 points, 12.5 rebounds and 4.4 assists per game last season with the Wolves. Love is a tremendous rebounder and though he’s not known for his defense, he’s also a great outlet passer and a threat from three-point range (37.6 percent from downtown last year).
So what would the Cavs have to do in order to acquire Love from Minnesota? In order for this to work, Cleveland would need to focus on keeping its young and talented nucleus intact so LeBron could continue competing for titles in the future, but they’d also have to give up enough to trump offers from the Boston Celtics and Golden State Warriors (provided they ever change their stubborn stance on Klay Thompson).
With that in mind, the Cavaliers’ best course of action would be trading their No. 1 pick, Mr. Andrew Wiggins. Wiggins has remarkable upside and incredible athleticism, but he’s completely unproven at this point and many would not be surprised if the Cavs had another No. 1 draft bust on their hands. I personally believe Wiggins will be a star, or at least a very good NBA starter, but the truth is No. 1 draft picks are like buying a new car. Before that No. 1 model plays/drives off the lot, it has tons of value and potential. But the moment it plays/drives off the lot, its value immediately plummets.
If the Cavaliers don’t want to include Wiggins in a deal, it’s hard to come up w/a scenario where Wolves agree to part with Love.
— Jon Krawczynski (@APkrawczynski) July 9, 2014
Wiggins’ trade value is at its highest right now because the moment he starts playing in the NBA Summer League, his value could depreciate. Because of this, the Cavs almost certainly would have to include him and a couple of their future first rounders in a Kevin Love deal and they wouldn’t look bad in doing so.
There’s a chance a deal like Dion Waiters, Tristan Thompson and two future first round draft picks could get the job done for Minnesota, but it’s highly unlikely. The Cavs aren’t giving up Kyrie and would pair him with LeBron, but the Timberwolves would want a player to build around, future assets and a role player or two who could contribute right away in order to get the most value for their superstar. The Cavs could put together the best offer on the table and even if Wiggins does turn into a star, who could blame Cleveland for manufacturing a LeBron-Kyrie-Love Big Three?
This may just be a rumor and giving up a tantalizing young prospect like Wiggins is a difficult decision to make. But if swapping Wiggins and future assets for Love makes Cleveland more attractive to LeBron, you do it without hesitation. The Cavs will need to hold out until they get confirmation from LeBron that he’s coming back before pulling the trigger on such a deal, but pieces could start falling into place pretty quickly for Cleveland if the King returns.