The Cleveland Cavaliers have reportedly agreed to send two former No. 1 overall picks and a protected, future first-rounder for one guaranteed year of the best power forward in the NBA along with his word that he will re-up for five more years next summer. In the deal, Minnesota gets Andrew Wiggins, a much hyped and once thought of as a LeBronesque rookie, along with an in-shape and a steady breathing Anthony Bennett. Throw in a future Heat first-round pick and Flip Saunders and the T-Wolves faithful got a sizable haul compared to superstar trades of years past.1 Still, despite Minnesota inheriting some hope for the future, the value which the T-Wolves got back is nowhere close to comparable to what Cleveland brings in with Love. Love’s numbers and skills speak for themselves, but the most intriguing piece of this deal—one that won’t be measured until next summer—is Kevin Love’s word.There’s no doubt Kevin Love will hit free agency next summer, allowing himself and his agent the biggest pay day possible, but Cleveland fans should take comfort in the reports Love and the Cavs have an agreement for the 25-year old to remain in the Wine and Gold for the foreseeable future.
The only problem with that whole comfort thing is Cleveland’s past. Cleveland fans have some trust issues. Cleveland is the fan base who had their football team ripped out of their city; where their star slugger, Jim Thome, bolted the place he said he wanted to spend his whole career for an extra year and a few more dollars with the Phillies; and don’t forget LeBron’s first running mate, Carlos Boozer, jetting off to Utah after telling the team he’d resign at the end of the year. Oh yeah, and the best basketball player on the planet ditched Cleveland on national TV in the summer of 2010.
With all that history, and me falling into the somewhat cynical hipster trend these days, questions regarding Love’s “word” start screaming through my head.
What if LeBron or Kyrie gets Paul George’d? Are we certain Love won’t see some greener pastures somewhere else along the NBA landscape and leave town?
What if Love falls for an actress, model, or pop star and decides his relationship and living on the West Coast is more important than playing with LeBron?
What if Kevin Durant gets hurt, OKC trades Westbrook to Phoenix, the Thunder tank, and the Suns to make a play at reuniting Westbrook and Love in a Western market?
These scenarios are preposterous and highly unlikely, but do any seem much more far-fetched than the Cavs ending up with LeBron, Love, and Kyrie back in late May? At that time we were talking about whether or not Kyrie would turn down a max deal and whether or not Dougie “McBuckets” McDermott would be a good fit late in the lottery.
The NBA, unlike any other league is shaped by its star players. If one star has a change of heart, demands out of one situation, and into another it can have a ripple effect.
In the summer of 2012 James Harden was a key cog in the future Thunder dynasty, coming off his role as “LeBron stopper” in the 2012 Finals and Dwight Howard was forming a super team in L.A. Over the next few months the Thunder and Harden couldn’t agree on an extension, OKC traded Harden to the Rockets, the Lakers fell apart under the guidance of Mike Brown, and by the end of the summer of 2013 Harden and Howard were teammates in Houston.
I like to think that kind of unpredictability won’t happen this time around for Cleveland. I like to think Love giving his word to LeBron and the Cavs is different and that it is binding. I like to think LeBron James carries so much clout, and has enough respect around the league that you don’t dare cross him. If Michael Jordan is the Godfather of the NBA then LeBron James is Sonny Corleone. No one would even consider crossing Sonny Corleone. That is, until he pulled up to that New Jersey toll booth and was peppered to death by an onslaught of tommy guns.
Over time, in both life and the NBA, stuff happens. You can’t predict it. Will Kevin Love honor his word and re-sign with the Cavs after becoming a free agent? Most likely. But at the end of the day every man will do what’s best for him and those he loves. It appears the odds are strongly in the favor of the Cavaliers getting Love’s signature next summer, but until there is a signed document in the offices of Adam Silver it’s impossible not to have your guard up a little.
Being cautious to trust Kevin Love is smart to me, but being terrified to trust Kevin Love will be suffocating. In a matter of a few short weeks Cleveland landed two of the best players on the planet, and it feels damn good. It’s time to once again put our faith in something with the logic being that this can’t happen to us again. Perhaps something crazy happens and the Cavs don’t have Kevin Love in their frontcourt come the fall of 2015, but when the ball tips off this Halloween, Love will be there. And when the Cavs push for a title in the summer of 2015, Love will be there.
To paraphrase the English poet, Lord Aflred Tennyson, “Tis better to have Love and lost then to never have Love at all.”
Photoshop courtesy of Bleacher Report
The best of recent history is the Nuggets sending Carmelo Anthony to New York in exchange for Danilo Gallinari, Wilson Chandler, Raymond Felton, Timofey Mozgov and a future first rounder which ended up being the eleventh pick in the 2014 draft. Over the next three full seasons the Nuggets would win four more games than the Knicks. [↩]