With LeBron on board, the gears are already moving for a potential Kevin Love deal. The Minnesota Timberwolves will surely trade their All-Star before he leaves for nothing at the end of the upcoming season.
Cleveland wouldn't have to worry about Love being on board, per ESPN.com's Marc Stein:
Source close to situation says Kevin Love indeed "intrigued" by idea of being dealt to Cavs and would commit long there if traded there— Marc Stein (@ESPNSteinLine) July 11, 2014
ESPN sources say LeBron's contract structure is unlikely to deter Kevin Love from wanting to commit to Cavs if Cleveland can indeed land him— Marc Stein (@ESPNSteinLine) July 13, 2014
The biggest issue for the Cavaliers would then be what it would take to make the deal happen. Some fans believe that any trade without Wiggins would be impossible. The Cavs will have to throw in the No. 1 overall pick at the very least.
Jacob Rosen of Waiting for Next Year is one of the proponents for including Wiggins in the trade:
Kevin Love is better than Andrew Wiggins for each of the next 4-5 years. Probs better than Wiggins + Waiters + Two late 1sts, too.— Jacob Rosen (@WFNYJacob) July 12, 2014
The Cavs, however, should remain firm in their desire to hold on to the Kansas star and refuse any such deal in which he's involved.
Lost in all of the LeBron hoopla is how many positive feelings were generated after Cleveland won the lottery and subsequently selected Wiggins, somebody who's been spoken of in the same breath as a high school version of LBJ. Now, Cleveland would have the kind of potential superstar to pair with Kyrie Irving and take the franchise forward.
Sure, Wiggins might turn into a complete bust, but ask almost any expert, scout or NBA executive and they would say that he's one of the highest-ceiling players in the 2014 draft.
To their credit, the Cavaliers are at least presenting the image that they want to keep Wiggins, per Windhorst and Ryan Wolstat of the Toronto Sun:
Andrew Wiggins will play in summer league tonight for Cavs. They have no plans to include him in trade talks for Kevin Love, sources said.— Brian Windhorst (@WindhorstESPN) July 11, 2014
"He's not going anywhere, as far as I've heard." David Blatt on Andrew Wiggins. Says nothing for Wiggins to worry about.— Ryan Wolstat (@WolstatSun) July 12, 2014
Blatt was pretty adamant he sees Wiggins and LeBron James teaming up. Is already thinking about the possibilities.— Ryan Wolstat (@WolstatSun) July 12, 2014
The only scenario in which Wiggins should be a trade chip is in the event that demand for Love was extremely high and other teams were on the verge of completing a deal.
For all intents and purposes, though, Cleveland arguably has the leverage over Minnesota.
The Golden State Warriors, once viewed as the other top contenders to land Love, insist on not including Klay Thompson, per Tim Kawakami of the San Jose Mercury News:
Second NBA source: The Warriors have no plans to offer Klay Thompson to Minnesota, even if CLE comes in aggressively for Kevin Love.— Tim Kawakami (@timkawakami) July 11, 2014
I emphasize: This is a fluid situation. I am reporting what two credible sources are saying is the Warriors' CURRENT position on Love/Klay.— Tim Kawakami (@timkawakami) July 11, 2014
If the Warriors are out at the moment, the Timberwolves don't have too many other takers. The Boston Celtics have registered interest, but the chances of that deal happening seem slim, via Jackie MacMullan of ESPNBoston.com. The Celtics would have a hard time convincing Love to sign an extension, not to mention they don't have many assets to offer the T-Wolves.
Maybe this is too pie in the sky, but is it all that crazy to argue that the Cavaliers would only have to give up some combination of Dion Waiters, Tristan Thompson and Anthony Bennett in addition to some first-round draft picks?
Waiters and Thompson are both top-five picks, the former of whom could still grow into a versatile scorer and the latter of whom is a tremendous rebounder and improving offensive threat. Bennett's viewed as a joke by some, but he's still only 21 years old. Now that he's healthy and in shape, he should be miles better than he was last season.
Trading superstars never yields fair value in return. The key is making the best of a bad situation.
Those guys give the Timberwolves some pieces to build around in the future and the chance to build through the draft, which is the only way for a smaller-market team to turn into a contender. Marquee free agents aren't heading to Minnesota anytime soon.
Admittedly from the Cavs' perspective, part of this all brings back memories of when the Cavs were close to acquiring Amar'e Stoudemire for Zydrunas Ilgauskas and J.J. Hickson. Cleveland ended up hitching its wagons to Hickson, losing out on Stoudemire and then LeBron, too, en route to becoming the worst team in the league.
When you get a chance to add a player of Love's quality, you take it, even if it means trading a promising rookie like Wiggins.
However, the Cavs may just be able to have their cake and eat it, too. If they play hardball long enough, Minnesota might have to decide between taking a lesser deal and losing Love for nothing. At least getting Thompson, Waiters and/or Bennett would help to soften the blow.