Updates from Thursday, Aug. 7
The Minnesota Timberwolves have reached an agreement in principle to send All-Star forwardKevin Love to the Cleveland Cavaliers for Andrew Wiggins, Anthony Bennett and a protected 2015 first-round draft pick, league sources told Yahoo Sports.
Cleveland is making the deal with Minnesota with a firm agreement Love will opt out of his contract in 2015 and re-sign with the Cavaliers on a five-year, $120 million-plus contract extension, league sources told Yahoo Sports.
The precise deal terms have been agreed upon for weeks, but the teams and Love plan to stay silent about the particulars until the trade is announced in 16 days, sources told Yahoo Sports.
The frenzy of NBA trade rumors has certainly calmed heading into August, but that doesn't mean the news is focused on minor deals of little consequence. This year, it's the Kevin Love saga that continues to provide fresh tidbits for NBA fans to consider.
Timberwolves owner Glen Taylor indicated that Love is likely to be traded in late August.
"I'm saying it's most likely because Kevin has made it pretty clear that that's what he wants to do," said Taylor, per Charley Walters of The Pioneer Press.
The team with the clearest—and perhaps only—shot is the Cleveland Cavaliers, who are desperate to pair Love with the reining basketball demigod, LeBron James. ESPN's Brian Windhorst noted on ESPN Radio that the deal between the two teams is almost a foregone a conclusion (h/t Nicki Jhabvala of The Denver Post):
"But essentially what you need to know if you're an NBA fan: Kevin Love's going to be on the Cavs barring anything unforeseen, and Andrew Wiggins, the No. 1 overall pick, is going to be in Minnesota."
Taylor also reasoned that the ability to bring in multiple young players will help the Timberwolves replace Love in due time. Of course, Love will still leave a gaping hole to fill in the team's lineup after averaging 26.1 points and 12.5 rebounds per game last season.
"I think when you move somebody like Kevin, who's been an all-star, that you've got to get a number of players on your team that have the potential of replacing him," said Taylor, via Walters.
Indeed, Wiggins and Zach LaVine would have the potential to form an excellent perimeter tandem with nearly unparalleled athleticism. If the Wolves can convince Ricky Rubio, who averaged 8.6 assists per game last season, to stick through a rebuilding process, life without Love could be much less painful than most people realize.
Love, a three-time All-Star, hasn't been able to carry the Timberwolves to any level of notable success; trading him and working on building up a solid corps of young pros might be the best option for the 'Wolves going forward.
It also remains to be seen which players and assets are likely to be involved in the final version of a potential deal.
ESPN Insider Nick Borges (subscription required) gave an update on whom the Wolves are likely to send to Cleveland along with Love.
"The players the Wolves want to trade out are J.J. Barea, Kevin Martin and Alexey Shved," wrote Borges. "Of those three, Barea will likely be heading to Cleveland with Love. Barea's contract expires in 2015 and he's set to earn $4.51 million this coming season."
The Associated Press' Jon Krawczynski also noted that Corey Brewer reportedly won't be part of any potential deal:
Giving up the likes of Barea and Martin would be short-term pain in exchange for long-term gain. It frees up the team to focus on potential incoming players like Wiggins without having to worry about getting veteran players minutes.
It would also free up plenty of cap space for future moves. According to Spotrac, Martin is due approximately $6.8 million in 2014-15 and won't be a free agent until 2017.
Love might be the most coveted big man in the league, but it appears there is a clear front-runner for his services.
One would think this might open up the market for a player like the Detroit Pistons' Greg Monroe, but he hasn't had quite the same experience on the trade market this offseason.
The restricted free agent struggled to fit in with Andre Drummond and Josh Smith last year in the Motor City yet still managed to average 15.2 points and 9.3 rebounds per game. The Pistons need to alleviate the pressure in the post but haven't had any success in moving Monroe.
Yahoo Sports' Adrian Wojnarowski told Aime Mukendi Jr. of the AIMEzing Words Podcast that Monroe isn't happy about returning to the Pistons. Via a transcript of the interview provided by Sean Corp of Detroit Bad Boys (h/t Pro Basketball Talk's Dan Feldman):
Greg Monroe, Detroit has tried to help him with some sign-and-trade possibilities around the league. Monroe doesn't really have a great interest in going back and playing with the Pistons. But if they're going to move him in a sign and trade, they've got to get value for him.
This isn't surprising. Drummond's presence has forced Monroe to operate as more of a power forward, and the latter lacks sufficient outside range to play this position effectively. According to Basketball-Reference.com, just 15.5 percent of Monroe's field-goal attempts came from beyond 10 feet away from the basket last season.
A lack of outside shooting threats has also made it difficult for the Pistons to find ways to draw defenders away from Drummond and Monroe in the low post.
It's becoming increasingly likely that he will remain in Detroit, and fellow frontcourt mate Drummond expects him to be there, per Vince Ellis of the Detroit Free Press:
And Drummond said Thursday that he is pretty certain that Monroe's contract impasse will be resolved and Monroe will be wearing a Pistons uniform next season.
"Greg knows what it is," Drummond said at the Mendenhall Center on the UNLV campus. "I've told him multiple times that he needs to come on home."
If Monroe does stay in Detroit, it apparently won't be for a lack of trying on management's part to find a suitable situation for all parties involved.
In the Mukendi Jr. interview, Wojnarowski also noted a couple of the potential trade partners that have fallen through this season.
"They've talked with Atlanta. I believe they talked to Phoenix for a while. Those are two off the top of my head that they had conversations with and there was interest."
If the Pistons do end up making a long-term investment in Monroe, they will almost certainly have to restructure the roster to fit his game. This would mean the potential exit of either Smith or Drummond. This would almost certainly have to be Smith, as the 20-year-old Drummond averaged 13.2 rebounds per game last year , displaying a rare combination of power and youth.