After months (years?) of resisting a Kevin Love trade, it appears the Minnesota Timberwolves have finally accepted the inevitable.
Charley Walters of the St. Paul Pioneer Press reports that the Timberwolves expect to trade disgruntled All-Star Kevin Love, and that a deal is expected Aug. 23 or Aug. 24.
Wolves owner Glen Taylor went on to state, "I'm saying it's most likely because Kevin has made it pretty clear that that's what he wants to do."
The expected trade date of Aug. 23 is exactly 30 days from the time Andrew Wiggins signed his rookie contract with the Cleveland Cavaliers and is first eligible to be dealt.
While this all seems to be pointing toward Wiggins ending up in Minnesota before the season begins, there remains one big question mark.
Why haven't the Cavs saved Wiggins a bunch of uncertainty by telling him he'll be moved?
Chris Haynes of Comcast SportsNet says that in speaking to key members of Wiggins’ camp on Aug. 2, they adamantly maintain that the Cavaliers have not informed them a trade is forthcoming.
“As of now, Wiggins anticipates remaining a Cavalier,” one source close to the rookie told Haynes.
Now, this could simply be a team policy of not discussing a trade until it becomes official, even if a deal has been agreed upon.
Or, it could be because the Cavaliers are holding out hope they can land Love without having to give up Wiggins.
During the summer league, head coach David Blatt seemed quite convinced Wiggins would remain a Cav, telling ESPN.com, "There's no reason or cause for worry on his part because Andrew's not going anywhere, as far as I know and as far as the club has expressed."
Could Cleveland really trade for Love without Wiggins included in the deal?
Maybe, maybe not.
They'll certainly try, however.
Here are the three best trade packages the Cavs could put together that don't include their newest No. 1 overall pick.
Since the Cavaliers are over the salary cap and Minnesota has contracts it would like to get rid of—Kevin Martin, J.J. Barea, Chase Budinger, Corey Brewer—Cleveland may need to get a third team involved.
Sean Deveney of Sporting News had this to say about other teams joining the trade:
Multiple sources told Sporting News this week that teams are flocking to potential deals that would send Love to Chicago, Cleveland, Golden State or elsewhere, hoping to facilitate a trade by adding players, cap space or draft picks.
All could be used to help absorb salary or contribute draft picks. Veteran teams with trade exceptions, like the Houston Rockets, Oklahoma City Thunder and New York Knicks, could all throw their hat into the ring as well.
Cleveland probably won't be able to pull off a trade without Wiggins unless a third team indeed enters the mix.
Wiggins may be the most valuable trade piece the Cavs have to offer, but he certainly isn't the only one.
Dion Waiters and Anthony Bennett carry significant value. Although much of his time was spent coming off the bench, Waiters did average 18.3 points and 3.5 assists in 24 games as a starter last season.
He's an instant-offense type of player who can split defenders and get to the hoop at will. If given a full-time starting gig next to a pass-first point guard like Ricky Rubio, Waiters would thrive.
Bennett's struggles were well-documented last season, but his upside remains substantial. Since the end of the season, Bennett has dropped 20 pounds. He looked very good during the summer league, averaging 13.3 points and 7.8 rebounds in less than 30 minutes a game.
Cleveland recently pulled off a trade with the Utah Jazz, landing $3.3 million worth of non-guaranteed contracts in John Lucas III, Malcolm Thomas and Erik Murphy.
The Cavs also have Brendan Haywood, who's owed $2.2 million this season and carries value with his own non-guaranteed deal of $10.5 million in 2015-16.
Trade No. 1: Rockets Take on Contracts
Houston should be viewed as a strong contender to join this deal.
The Rockets have endured a rough offseason, losing Chandler Parsons, Jeremy Lin and Omer Asik while getting only one notable contributor (Trevor Ariza) in return.
They need help on their bench and can offer an $8.4 million exception from Lin's trade to the Los Angeles Lakers, as well as Alonzo Gee's non-guaranteed $3 million contract.
Cleveland Receives: F Kevin Love
Minnesota Receives: G Dion Waiters, F Anthony Bennett, F Alonzo Gee, G John Lucas III, F Erik Murphy, 2015 first-round pick (from Cavs via Memphis Grizzlies), 2015 first-round pick (from Cavs via Miami Heat), 2018 first-round pick (from Cavs), 2015 second-round pick (from Rockets via New York Knicks)
Houston Receives: G Kevin Martin, F Corey Brewer
The Cavaliers get Love while sacrificing three first-round picks, Waiters, Bennett and the non-guaranteed contracts of Lucas III and Murphy.
Minnesota can plug Waiters and Bennett into its starting lineup immediately while saving about $5.5 million by waiving Gee, Lucas III and Murphy.
The Timberwolves get the Grizzlies' pick (protected 1-5 and 15-30), Heat's pick (protected 1-10) and Knicks' second-round pick while also collecting another first-rounder from Cleveland in 2018.
Trading Martin and Brewer saves the team roughly $30 million in total contracts.
The Rockets have to take on salary and lose a second-rounder, but they add two key contributors to their bench in Martin and Brewer.
Trade No. 2: Knicks Help Out
The New York Knicks can do little to add to their current team, given the fact they're nearly $30 million over the salary cap.
Like they did with the Tyson Chandler deal, moving large contracts for better large contracts may be their best bet.
Given the trade exception (valued at $3.6 million) they gained by dealing Raymond Felton to the Dallas Mavericks, the Knicks are in a position to take three contracts from the Timberwolves (Martin, Budinger and Alexey Shved) while giving up just one expiring deal (Andrea Bargnani).
Cleveland Receives: F Kevin Love
Minnesota Receives: G Dion Waiters, F Anthony Bennett, F Andrea Bargnani, C Brendan Haywood, 2015 first-round pick (from Cavs via Memphis Grizzlies), 2015 first-round pick (from Cavs via Miami Heat), 2018 first-round pick (from Cavs)
New York Receives: G Kevin Martin, F Chase Budinger, G Alexey Shved
The Cavaliers get Love while still giving up Waiters, Bennett and three first-rounders. Haywood is added to match up salaries.
Minnesota receives its two prospects, as well as gaining Haywood's valuable contract and the first-rounders. The Wolves take on Bargnani's expiring $11 million deal while shedding the contracts of Martin, Budinger and Shved.
The Knicks push themselves toward the playoffs by adding a new starting floor-spacer in Martin with two nice bench pieces in Budinger and Shved.
Trade No. 3: Sixers Get Involved
Philadelphia remains a popular pick to join the party, as it only has around $32 million in committed salaries and lots of draft selections forthcoming.
The Sixers would also love to snag some more young talent, either in the form of Bennett or Waiters. To do it, of course, they'd likely have to give up their best and most accomplished player in Thaddeus Young.
Cleveland Receives: F Kevin Love
Minnesota Receives: G Dion Waiters, F Thaddeus Young, G Jason Richardson, G John Lucas III, F Erik Murphy, 2015 first-round pick (from Cavs via Memphis Grizzlies), 2018 first-round pick (from Cavs), 2015 second-round pick (from Sixers via Orlando Magic)
Philadelphia Receives: F Anthony Bennett, F Chase Budinger
For the Cavs, it's more of the same. Land Love while dealing Waiters, Bennett, two first-rounders and this time the non-guaranteed deals of Lucas III and Murphy.
This is the best package for the Wolves if they want to remain competitive right away.
Young averaged 17.9 points and 6.0 rebounds a game for the Sixers last season and could take over the newly opened power forward spot. Waiters has star potential, and Minnesota still collects the non-guaranteed deals/draft picks.
Richardson is on an expiring $6.6 million deal, saving them from paying Budinger the $10 million he's owed over the next two seasons. The Wolves also get what's likely to be a high second-round pick via the Magic in 2015.
Philadelphia continues its rebuilding project, flipping a proven player like Young for someone younger, cheaper and with a higher upside in Bennett.
Salary figures provided by ShamSports.com.
Stats via ESPN.com unless otherwise noted.
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