According to Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo Sports, the Cleveland Cavaliers and Minnesota Timberwolves have agreed in principle to a deal sending Kevin Love to the Cavs:
The Minnesota Timberwolves have reached an agreement in principle to send All-Star forward Kevin 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.
Of course, the deal is not set in stone, as the Cavaliers cannot trade Andrew Wiggins until August 23 in accordance with the NBA's rules on rookie signings, per Wojnarowski.
This would be quite the coup for Cleveland, although ESPN's Bomani Jones noted that Love, James and Kyrie Irving might not be as strong as the NBA's most recent high-profile triumvirate:
get it straight: this isn’t bron/wade/bosh. wade was a top 5 player in 2010. all three were better defenders than kyrie and love.— Bomani Jones (@bomani_jones) August 7, 2014
part of the disconnect, i think, i have with ppl on the cavs is i’m not as crazy about kyrie as most ppl are.— Bomani Jones (@bomani_jones) August 7, 2014
CBS Sports' Ken Berger reported that although Love signing an extension is crucial to the Cavs getting the most out of this deal, the three-time All-Star may wait on any movement from LeBron James next summer before signing:
As for extension agreement with Cavs, league source says Love may decide to wait until next summer and "do whatever LeBron does."— Ken Berger (@KBergCBS) August 7, 2014
This could be cause for concern in Cleveland, but it is unlikely that this is just a short-term experiment. Love's game is an excellent complement to James' all-around mastery.
Love is a highly efficient scorer and voluminous rebounder, which should help to create plenty of second-chance points for James.
James is also a strong enough defender to make up for the power forward's deficiencies in this area, although there could be problems in the low post. Love allowed opposing players to shoot 57.4 percent at the rim last season, per NBA.com.
The three-time All-Star can also create space for James to post up by stretching the defense with his much-improved outside shooting.
Love ranked ninth among power forwards in true shooting percentage last season at 59.1 percent, per ESPN's Hollinger rankings. He also grabbed 29.5 percent of the total defensive rebounds available while he was on the court last season, per Basketball-Reference.com.
ESPN Stats & Info also relayed some interesting info regarding the effectiveness of James, Love and Irving on their respective squads last season:
LeBron James, Kevin Love & Kyrie Irving combined for 36.9 win shares last season, more than 11 entire NBA teams had.— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) August 7, 2014
The Wolves can take comfort in potentially bringing in the last two No. 1 overall draft choices, but they will need to see a vast improvement from Anthony Bennett in order for this deal to pay dividends.
Bennett averaged 4.2 points and 3.0 rebounds in 12.8 minutes per game on 35.6 percent shooting from the field. His dreadful performances were painful to watch and saddled him with an early bust label due to his lofty draft status.
First-year head coach David Blatt believes Bennett may be able to put some of his struggles behind him after addressing some key issues this offseason.
Blatt said during the Las Vegas Summer League, per CBS Sports' Zach Harper:
AB's biggest trouble last year was he never really had the opportunity to play enough, because he was either hurt or not in good physical shape. As you can see, he worked very hard at that. That's a good first step. He did some good things.
If Bennett can put his initial NBA woes behind him, it could quickly alleviate Minnesota's painful separation with Love.
Even with the reported trade agreement, it appears that the Timberwolves aren't done making moves. According to The Boston Globe's Jake Fischer, Minnesota is still in talks with the Philadelphia 76ers to bring Thaddeus Young into the fold:
The Wolves and Sixers have not stopped talking a deal for Thaddeus Young. There are still 16 days left before anything can become official.— Jake Fischer (@JakeLFischer) August 7, 2014
It remains to be seen if this deal can still go through, although it appears the Wolves will have plenty of assets if the Love trade indeed happens. Young was one of the few bright spots on a dreadful Sixers team last season, averaging 17.9 points and 6.0 rebounds per game.
He could provide a strong inside presence for the athletic duo of Wiggins and Zach LaVine out on the perimeter and at 26 years old still has time to improve his game and serve as a cut-rate replacement of sorts for Love on the inside as the team rebuilds.
The potential blockbuster deal also stirred up an intriguing rumor regarding the Cavaliers roster. According to Eurobasket.com's David Pick, the Cavs might be ready to add another piece to their potential championship puzzle:
Hearing E'Twaun Moore is in strong consideration to land deal with the Cleveland Cavaliers.— David Pick (@IAmDPick) August 7, 2014
As Pick noted, bringing in a James favorite can only help the team appease its returning superstar. The 25-year-old Moore is a combo guard who last played for the Orlando Magic, averaging 6.3 points and 1.4 assists in 19.1 minutes per game last season.
It's clear the Cavaliers are gunning for an NBA championship, but a hyper-talented roster is nothing without a competent coach. Blatt comes to the NBA with a strong reputation after great success in Israel, but he will definitely have to make some adjustments as he looks to deliver a title to this championship-starved city.
If Love indeed makes his way to Cleveland, Blatt's monumental task is greatly simplified, as he will likely be assured of some long-term roster stability.