The Cleveland Cavaliers have the best basketball player in the world on their roster right now. LeBron James’ presence alone is more than enough to have championship-hungry fans in northeast Ohio chomping at the bit for the season to start.
Now imagine if that roster included Kevin Love as well.
Bob Finnan of The Morning Journal & The News-Herald raised that possibility in a recent report:
Ever since LeBron James returned to Cleveland, talks have intensified for All-Star power forward Kevin Love.
Rumors have surfaced that the Cavaliers wouldn’t include rookie swingman Andrew Wiggins in any possible deal for the Minnesota Timberwolves’ star.
A league source said on July 17 that the Cavs are now willing to trade the No. 1 overall pick in the 2014 draft. … However, a source said James wants the 6-10, 250-pound Love on the roster.
And, what James wants, he normally gets.
Of course, landing a game-changer like Love would require losing something. That something may very well be the No. 1 pick in the last draft, Andrew Wiggins. The main point here (and in Finnan’s piece) is that James is signed to a two-year deal. It’s difficult to envision a more win-now type of pressure that that.
If the King wants another superstar on the roster, wouldn’t it be in Cleveland’s best interest to grab said star? It’s not as if James didn’t have an influence already in the recent signings of James Jones and Mike Miller.
Wiggins could develop into one of the best players in the league, but if the Cavs chose to keep the Kansas product instead of pursuing Love, they are banking on an uncertain future in a limited window. We shouldn’t put much stock in Wiggins’ inconsistent offense in early NBA Summer League performances, but he did show some of those ups and downs at the college level.
Joe Lull of 92.3 The Fan raised a number of absolutely excellent points regarding the Love or Wiggins debate:
One thing nobody has said. We assume Wiggins would re-up in 3 years as Kyrie just did. But if he's 3rd option behind LBJ and Kyrie???— Joe Lull (@LullOnSports) July 17, 2014
If Wiggins is such a stud, will he want to be entering his prime in the shadows of LeBron & Kyrie? Who says he doesn't want a team to lead?— Joe Lull (@LullOnSports) July 17, 2014
It's just assumed that Wiggins A) will be a stud and B) will be here for 10 years. Dangerous assumptions to make.— Joe Lull (@LullOnSports) July 17, 2014
As Lull points out, we can make assumptions, but we just don’t know for sure whether Wiggins will turn into a star or if he will even be in Cleveland long term.
Who would you rather have as the Cavaliers?
We do know that Love is an absolute superstar.
He posted nightly averages last year of 26.1 points, 12.5 rebounds and 4.4 assists and shot 37.6 percent from behind the three-point line. In fact, he’s the first player since the NBA merged with the ABA to average 26 points, 12 points and four assists a night in a single season.
That’s not too bad, right?
Love posted those numbers as options one, two and three in Minnesota. Imagine the open looks he will get with James attracting the type of defensive attention he does every night.
What’s more, the defensive rebound and outlet pass is so critical in any attack featuring James, who is always ready to get out in transition. There may not be a better outlet passer in the entire league than Love. That’s a lot of easy opportunities on the other side for James and company to convert.
One side of this debate that hasn’t gotten as much attention is the Timberwolves’ point of view. Owner Glen Taylor discussed his opinion on Love in an interview with NBA TV, via ESPN.com:
My preference is that Kevin will come to [training] camp -- and I'm sure he will -- and play with the team. We are going to look at everything that makes sense that would make our team better. But we are not going to move a superb player like [Love] without getting equal or more value back.
If there is a red flag regarding Love’s on-court resume, it is the narrative that he can’t win. He has never made the playoffs, which is sure to turn some heads, but it’s no secret that the Western Conference is absolutely loaded. Love wasn’t exactly playing against that elite competition with the 1992 Dream Team in Minnesota throughout his career either.
He wouldn’t have to be the main man in Cleveland. He would be one piece of a new Big Three along with James and Kyrie Irving
Wiggins was the No. 1 pick, but Love is definitely the better player now and still will be in all likelihood for the next three or four years. James’ prime isn’t going to last forever, and he won’t be the force he is now when Wiggins is ready to step into the limelight as a perennial All-Star.
The Cavs have the best basketball player since Michael Jordan on their roster, and they need to take advantage of it now.
Yes, Wiggins’ future is incredibly enticing, but this is a golden opportunity. Cleveland’s been planning for its future the past 50 years in every sport, and it’s never really arrived. Why not play for the present for once?
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