And you thought that the Cleveland Cavaliers were done with lightning-rod debates for the summer? No, my friend, they are just getting started.
During the four days since LeBron James’ letter, Twitter has been on fire with all sorts of takes on the potential for a trade for Minnesota Timberwolves star Kevin Love. To get a sense of where we all stand, I asked my Waiting For Next Year colleagues for their brief responses to the current rumors. Stay tuned for more posts to come soon and share your thoughts in the comments.
Scott Sargent (@WFNYScott): This won’t make for great debate, but I somewhat feel that the Cavaliers—especially David Griffin—will be in a no-lose situation. The decision, reduced to its most simplest terms, comes down to winning more games sooner, or delaying potential dominance, but with the window open a bit longer.
The general managers and scouts who spoke with ESPN.com’s Jeff Goodman collectively represent my thoughts. Sure, there is a 7-5 lead for Andrew Wiggins in a this-or-that scenario, but it could easily be ascertained that 12 more interviews could tilt the favor back in the way of the big man. Both players offer the stuff hoop dreams are made of—the thoughts of Wiggins’ 44-inch vertical being put on display in transition makes me salivate; the drive-and-kick, spacing potential of an Olympian as a stretch four could make for hardwood theatre.
If the Wolves would prefer to get cute and lose Love for pennies due to hardball—or worse, to overpay Klay Thompson and take on the contract of one of the worst defensive big men in the league in David Lee—the Cavs would almost be better off sitting this one out. If they would rather go with younger, more dynamic players still on their rookie deals and a few draft picks to boot, then there’s a chance the Cavs can not only add a player like Love, but without having to deal a player who some of the scouts mentioned above as having the potential to be one of the top five players in the NBA—on a rookie wage scale. That, fans, is called leverage.
Could the Wine and Gold’s Big Three actually become a Big Four?
Joe Gilbert (@iggybrowns): I believe the Cavaliers should not include Andrew Wiggins into any trade offers for Kevin Love. Wiggins has the potential to be a star in the NBA because of freakish athleticism and his skills. I do not believe he is that far away from producing for the Cavs. I think right away he becomes a lethal wing defender who can give the team a lot of versatility on the floor. He has the makings of a dangerous offensive game with solid shooting mechanics and athleticism to get past defenders. I think he is just too good to give up in a trade.
I think the Cavs can wait for the trade deadline to make a trade for Kevin Love. As time goes on, the Minnesota Timberwolves lose bargaining power because they know they will lose Love in free agency. The Cavaliers are in a solid position because they can start the season without Love and still be very successful. Love will most be needed for the playoffs. I would be willing to give up anyone besides Kyrie Irving, LeBron James, and Andrew Wiggins. The three first round picks in 2015 also give the Cavs more trade assets to use along with the players. I think waiting till the trade deadline allows the Cavs to showcase players like Dion Waiters and Anthony Bennett to the T-Wolves.
My goal would be to team up LeBron James, Kyrie Irving, Andrew Wiggins, and Kevin Love. They could become a lethal “Big Four”, who can create a dynasty in Cleveland. That team would be young, but filled with tons of talent. It is my dream team that could realistically happen for the Cavs.
Ben Cox (@WFNYBen): I don’t trade Andrew Wiggins for anybody.
While defensive shortcomings of both Kevin Love and Kyrie Irving are probably overstated, I think we can safely that defense isn’t their strong suite. A LeBron-Irving-Love Big 3 would be amazing, but you’d be top heavy and (like the Heat) would be bargain shopping for defensive role players. Now, they may be so good that it might not matter. But if you flip Wiggins for Love, you’ll be maxed out and two of those three max players will be one-way guys (with a less-than-great injury history, if we’re honest).
If Wiggins can crack his potential, the Cavs would be getting near All-Star production at a discounted rookie scale price. It allows them greater flexibility longterm and could possibly allow them to add a fourth star. Plus, the defensive potential of Wiggins and LeBron is incredible. It could be a Jordan-Pippen situation. Even this year, when Wiggins is at his worst, his combination of speed, size and explosiveness will make him a pain to go against. That combination next to LeBron would for create havoc for opposing teams. And once they get on the break… look out.
If LeBron is really around for the long haul, the Cavs should try to wait the Timberwolves out. The Cavs other trade assets like Dion Waiters and Anthony Bennett can’t helped but be improved by being around Blatt and LeBron every day. Everyone is trying to low-ball the Wolves and the Cavs should be no different. But I hold out. I put all these young athletes around LeBron and see what we got. If the Sixers or someone blows the Wolves away and the Cavs miss out on Love, I’m okay with it.
I think. Hahaha.
It’s so crazy that these are our options. This doesn’t even seem real.
Jacob Rosen (@WFNYJacob): I think Cavs fans are understandably optimistic about their favorite team’s assets. They tend to ignore the past and inflate the future. Dion Waiters has played mostly as a below-average guard. Anthony Bennett was abysmal. Tristan Thompson is an average-ish rotation big. Andrew Wiggins was mostly underwhelming based on his collegiate stats. All could and should be better playing alongside LeBron James, but that’s hope and projection, not facts.
Next, I think the media tends to underrate Kevin Love, superstar. The stats: 23.5 points and 13.7 rebounds in 36.6 minutes per game the last four seasons. He’s a 37.0% three-point shooter, which is even better when you take away his injury-riddled 2012-13 campaign. He surpassed the 20.0% assist percentage mark last year, the Holy Grail for elite passing big men. The Timberwolves, the best non-playoff team ever by scoring margin, were +4.4 net with him on the court and -6.1 net without him.
Love’s defense is a question mark, yes. His elite rebounding isn’t essential for the Cavs with Anderson Varejao et al. It’s a high price to pay and the Cavs would have even less financial flexibility going forward with Irving’s rookie max, LeBron’s year-to-year max and Love’s inevitable seven-year pro max. But I think Love is the best player possibly available and I want the Cavs to push for contention within a 4-5 year window.
LeBron turns 30 in December. As much as I would ideally like to build a Spurs-ian dynasty with multiple championships over a decade, I see the most likely route to at least one with LeBron as trading for another elite talent soon. This team is young and inexperienced. Wiggins is an unknown. When will he even come close to Love’s success, year 6 or 7? I want the known commodity, now.
Joe Mastrantoni (@WFNYJoe): I vote for keeping the nineteen year old athletic freak who comes cheaply for four years, wants to make the NBA All-Defensive team, and can explode to the rim like this:
But that’s just me…
Kirk Lammers (@WFNYKirk): It could be a lack of 100% trust in LeBron’s short-term contract, compounded with the “no way in hell” factor that comes with Love staying long-term if James isn’t here. There’s also the matter of Kyrie and Love’s injury pasts causing the exact thing that LeBron was trying to avoid, putting the burden solely on him and driving up his minutes count.
But, it’s still about Wiggins more than Love. The Cavs will never find this type of value again, and this isn’t the weak drafts of the past four years. Many think Andrew Wiggins can be a perennial All-Star. If you think that way, it’s very, very hard to justify giving him up, even for the 25-year-old Love.
Trying to picture the team in my head, I don’t want to lose the upside and youth of the supporting cast. If we trade Wiggins, I’m imploring we keep Dion and Bennett to surround the Lake Erie Trio. Dion and Tristan/Bennett get to become fourth or fifth options on an incredibly dangerous team. I have little doubt that the Kyrie-LBJ-Love combo with that cast would be at the top of the league and deep into the playoffs for however long they choose to stick together.
The Cavs have to be a little more patient if they can’t pull off the deal with Dion-Bennett-picks. If you do, unbridled athleticism and defensive ability from your starting wings awaits. If James is willing to take the long road with Cleveland, he could take this contention window all the way into retirement with Kyrie and Wiggins taking more of the minutes and usage as we progress through the years.
I’ll understand if the Cavs pull the trigger, and if they win a title, it will be worth it a thousand times over. But, I still feel like the Cavs are bidding against themselves. The Cavs have the ultimate best asset to get this deal done, but their secondary offer isn’t far off the current offers on the table. If Love plays hard ball, the T-Wolves lose a bit of leverage every day. I think the Cavaliers have other options as well that maybe we can’t currently see.
AP Photo/Jim Mone