For the record, it was two days.
Two days from the time the rumors were saying the Cleveland Cavaliers would not include top overall pick Andrew Wiggins in any proposed deal with the Minnesota Timberwolves for All-Star power forward Kevin Love to reports that they would, in fact, be willing to include Wiggins in a deal to get 2015’s most intriguing potential free agent.
Today, Brian Windhorst of ESPN is reporting that the Cavaliers are expected to sign Wiggins to his rookie-scale deal, four years and roughly $20.7 million.
That would affect a potential trade involving Wiggins, who would not be able to be traded until 30 days after signing his contract.
While many have speculated the delay in signing Wiggins was to facilitate a potential Love trade, the reality is that the Cavaliers, according to Windhorst’s sources, are burning up the remaining salary cap space before signing Wiggins.
That would allow them to sign Mike Miller for the cap room exception of $2.7 million, an exception that can’t be used until a team that had cap space had exhausted it.
In any event, Cleveland doesn’t have to be in a hurry to pull off a deal for Love. Minnesota’s leverage dwindles with each day closer to next February’s trade deadline, which will be the last day they can actually get something in return for Love’s imminent departure from the Twin Cities.
Cleveland doesn’t have to set its playoff roster for next spring right now. What if Wiggins is the superstar many have projected him to be?
If you’re any fan of defensive basketball, you have to be intrigued by the prospect of Wiggins and LeBron James with their athleticism absolutely choking off ball movement on the perimeter. Think Michael Jordan and Scottie Pippen 20 or 25 years ago … only bigger.
The Cavaliers have a chance to at least start to find out how good Wiggins is/can be without having to be in a hurry to get Love.
The proposed deal—essentially Wiggins and a draft pick for Love, plus whatever spare parts have to be thrown into the deal to make the salary cap mathematics work—will still be there as the season rolls over into 2015.
No other team is going to make Minnesota president of basketball operations Flip Saunders an offer that will top getting Wiggins.
Plus, since Saunders is reportedly harboring romantic notions of Love having a turnaround in sentiment mirroring that of LaMarcus Aldridge with the Portland Trail Blazers, Saunders isn’t in a hurry to move Love, either.
I get the fact the Cavaliers do have a window—for as great as LeBron is and has been, there is a “best if used by” stamp on his heel that Cleveland has to be concerned with.
James has played in 842 regular season games and another 158 in the playoffs. That’s 1,000 games.
There is undeniable evidence that players have to start altering their playing style after that 1,000-game mark on the odometer in order to avoid tailing off precipitously.
But if Wiggins isn’t quite the real deal yet, the Cavaliers will still have time to bring in Love as a spring rental—or a bit longer if Love can be convinced to stick around Cleveland.
It just feels like Dan Gilbert and his basketball “brain trust”—and, man, do I use that word lightly in this case—are trying desperately to get James the help that the front office couldn’t come up with during LeBron’s last stint in Cleveland.
The only problem is whether or not that brain trust actually knows how to construct a contending basketball team beyond “Step 1: Have LeBron James fall magically into your lap.”
If the Cavs had an idea how to do that, it’s entirely possible James wouldn’t have left the Cavaliers four years ago in search of championship baubles elsewhere.
What Cleveland has been is unbelievably, stupidly lucky. They let the best player of his generation walk away because they couldn’t figure out how to bring viable pieces in to put around him.
They literally lucked into three No. 1 overall draft picks in four years.
And they lucked back into LeBron James when James decided he wanted to return to northeast Ohio.
When you’re riding that kind of hot streak, I’d roll the dice on Love still being there if and when the Cavaliers decide they really need him.
Until then, why not see if the much-ballyhooed kid has the goods first?