For months, the Minnesota Timberwolves front office has been adamant that Kevin Love isn't going anywhere. But now, even owner Glen Taylor can't deny that his All-Star power forward has one foot out the door.
"I'm saying it's most likely because Kevin has made it pretty clear that that's what he wants to do," Taylor told the Pioneer Press' Charley Walters, saying the team expects Love to be traded August 23 or 24.
Why those dates? Aug. 23 marks the end of the 30-day moratorium following the Cleveland Cavaliers' signing of rookie Andrew Wiggins, who has long been thought to be the central asset of any potential deal involving Love.
In fact, in a recent interview with ESPN New York radio, Brian Windhorst reported there is a "handshake agreement" that would bring Love to Cleveland for Wiggins and Anthony Bennett. The latter could then possibly be shipped to the Philadelphia 76ers in exchange for Thaddeus Young.
CBS Sports' Matt Moore provided the transcript of the quote:
The deal is done but not done. The teams have agreed but can't say they've agreed because we're in this weird moratorium period. Between now and then could a team come in with a trade that Minnesota doesn't see? Yes, so it's not done. But there is this handshake agreement.
A lot can happen in two-and-a-half weeks, but it's going to be difficult to find a deal that better benefits both teams.
Cleveland would be giving up the last two No. 1 overall picks—one who is coming off a historically bad rookie season but is still just 21 with plenty of upside, and another who has all-world potential on both sides of the ball. Losing Wiggins for what could be a one-year rental of Love is an especially dangerous proposition.
NBA.com's Conrad Kaczmarek expressed his fear in such a move:
Like, I’m not asking for Kevin Love for free. I just wouldn’t do the trade at all if that’s what it takes.— Conrad Kaczmarek (@ConradKazNBA) August 4, 2014
I’m not THAT interested in Kevin Love on an expiring contract.— Conrad Kaczmarek (@ConradKazNBA) August 4, 2014
Still, it's risking the future for the present, and adding Love would undoubtedly strengthen Cleveland's footing at the top of the Eastern Conference.
With James and Love, the Cavs have the best player in the league and the best double-double machine in the league. They have two of the top three players in win shares from last season. They have a player who can get to the rim at will, and another who can spread the floor unlike any other power forward in the game.
Oh yeah, and there's Kyrie Irving, who is one of the most electrifying young offensive point guards in the league. He didn't progress like expected in 2013-14, but heading into his age-22 season, he already has three campaigns averaging more than 18.0 points per contest. With defenses focused on James, who has historically made those around him far more efficient, and Love, a dangerous offensive weapon from anywhere on the court, Irving is going to go wild.
Kermit the Frog and Miss Piggy could probably score 10 per game with those three around them, but Dion Waiters and Anderson Varejao complete an unfair starting lineup with solid role players like Tristan Thompson and Mike Miller coming off the bench.
As for the T-Wolves, they should be getting this deal in writing. Like, yesterday.
Love is as good as gone. Whether it's via trade or when he hits free agency next July, he has made it clear he doesn't want to be in Minnesota anymore.
As such, Milt Newton and Flip Saunders can choose to trade him now or spend another season as the sixth-, seventh-, eighth- or ninth-best team in the West before losing him for nothing.
Getting Wiggins, an unbelievable athletic specimen with MVP potential, is a coup considering Minnesota's back is against the wall in this situation. The youngster's killer instinct has been questioned, but after unfairly being put through this entire ordeal before playing in his first game, you can bet he'll be motivated to prove his worth.
Andrew Wiggins, live on ESPN Sportscenter this AM: "I just want to play for a team that wants me. So whatever team wants me, I'll play for."— Tommy Beer (@TommyBeer) August 3, 2014
Adding Young, a veteran who can score and defend, or Bennett, an intriguing buy-low option, is just icing on the cake. It would be an unusually hefty haul in exchange for a superstar on an expiring contract, as Kaczmarek noted:
Love is still technically a member of the T-Wolves.
But with the Cavs' chance to create further separation between them and Chicago, and Minnesota's chance to speed up the inevitable rebuilding process, it's going to take something wild to stop this deal from happening.