Thursday, August 7, 2014

Kevin Love to the Cavaliers: why it makes sense for both teams


To absolutely nobody’s surprise, Timberwolves star, Kevin Love, will be traded to the Cleveland Cavaliers. In return for Love, Minnesota receives this year’s top prospect, Andrew Wiggins, as well as Anthony Bennett and a future first round pick.

The trade will not become official until August 23 (30 days after Wiggins signed his rookie contract)…so maybe there’s hope Adam Silver will pull a David Stern and veto the trade? Just kidding, but I was hoping that Love would find his way into a Warriors jersey. Ultimately, the Warriors front office—along with new head coach, Steve Kerr—was not willing to separate the Splash Bros, and that put a halt to the trade talks between Flip Saunders and Bob Myers.

Kevin Love wanted to move to a team that had a chance to win now, and any team that has LeBron James has that potential. The Cavs lucked into the past two number one overall picks, Andrew Wiggins and Anthony Bennett. Winning the lottery twice proved to be enough potential (along with a future first rounder) to acquire one of the league’s top-10 players.

And it makes sense for Minnesota, because that was the best offer that they were going to get. As Zach Lowe mentioned on the Lowe Post podcast about a week ago, even if Wiggins gives the T’wolves no more than the average return of the number one pick, it’s a great trade. Teams usually have to trade a quarter for five nickels—rarely is there the opportunity to get someone like an Andrew Wiggins when you are a seller.


Whispers around the league question Wiggins ability to handle and shoot, but I still think the expectation is that he will be an All-Star, if for nothing else, because of his defense. While Bennett was anemic offensively for the majority of last season, he did show signs of life toward the end of the year. And Minnesota did not want to end up like the 2013 Lakers, where Dwight Howard ended up walking and they got nothing in return. This was clearly the best move for the T'wolves.

The main debate in Cleveland: is it worth giving up a potential perennial All-Star and possible franchise player for a proven 26-and-12 player? The co-author of LeBron’s coming home letter, Lee Jenkins, phrased the question best in a Grantland podcast: is the goal to keep your window open as long as possible or as wide as possible? There certainly is a happy-medium, but with LeBron James in the prime of his career, the goal should be win right now. LeBron has at least two or three more years as the best player in the NBA, and you want to take full advantage of that. You get a big window that's open for a while, the best of all worlds.

It makes no sense to keep a player who may become an All-Star after LeBron’s prime. It took Kevin Durant two full seasons in the NBA to become the player we now know him to be…a player that’s better than Love. If we assume (and it’s a big assumption), that Wiggins even has the ability to get to KD-level, and it takes him three years to get there, that’s too late. At that point, LeBron will probably need to further re-invent himself from the north-south train mentality that he is still known for.

Kevin Love can be to the Cavs what Kevin Garnett was to the Celtics: the missing piece to a championship contender. In KG’s first season in green, he won a championship. The argument will inevitably arise that the new Big 3 in Cleveland has not played together before so they can’t win now…but the proof is in the trade of a former Kevin from Minnesota.

Cleveland is instant championship contenders and Minnesota got an optimistic future—or at the least a box office thriller—in return.

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