One year after the Cleveland Cavaliers used the first overall pick to select Anthony Bennett, they have traded him to the Minnesota Timberwolves as part of a blockbuster deal for Kevin Love.
Brian Windhorst of ESPN confirmed the deal is now official after being expected for the past couple weeks. Here are the complete details of the agreement:
Cavs, Wolves, 76ers have completed Kevin Love trade officially. As part of deal Wolves will receive 6.3M trade exception.— Brian Windhorst (@WindhorstESPN) August 23, 2014
In summary: Kevin Love to Cavs, Wiggins, Bennett, Young to Wolves; Barea, Shved, Heat 2015 1st to Philly.— Brian Windhorst (@WindhorstESPN) August 23, 2014
The Timberwolves confirm the deal and provide reaction from head coach Flip Saunders:
Wiggins, Bennett, Young, LaVine represent the new age of the Minnesota Timberwolves #EyesOnTheRise— MN Timberwolves (@MNTimberwolves) August 23, 2014
"We are excited to add 3 young, talented & athletic players to our team in Andrew Wiggins, Anthony Bennett & Thaddeus Young" @Flip_Saunders— MN Timberwolves (@MNTimberwolves) August 23, 2014
Yahoo Sports' Adrian Wojnarowski reports JJ Barea was not involved:
Minnesota's Luc Mbah a Moute, Alexey Shved and Miami's 2015 first-round pick remains the package to Philadelphia for Thaddeus Young.— Adrian Wojnarowski (@WojYahooNBA) August 23, 2014
Bennett endured a rookie season that fell well short of expectations. He appeared in 52 games, starting none, while averaging just four points and three rebounds per contest. Poor shooting was a major factor in those struggles as he shot less than 36 percent from the field and 25 percent from three.
While one season isn't enough to make any final judgments, the lack of production definitely raised concerns about his long-term outlook. He certainly didn't look ready to make an impact for a championship contender, which the Cavs became following the return of LeBron James.
NBA.com passed along the ugly shot chart from his first NBA campaign:
Normally a team wouldn't be in a position to move on from a top pick that quickly. Obviously Cleveland found itself in a unique position once James announced his comeback. The Cavs received an opportunity to acquire Love, and they couldn't pass it up.
The move is a golden chance for Bennett to press the reset button. It's a fresh start with a new team, and the pressure of being drafted first overall is alleviated, at least to an extent. He's now just part of the package for a player the Wolves likely weren't going to keep anyway.
Furthermore, there have been signs of progress.
He was far more involved during NBA Summer League action. He averaged 13 points and eight rebounds while shooting 43 percent from the field. Those numbers are still not what most would expect from a No. 1 pick, but it was a solid overall effort.
James Herbert of CBSSports.com passed along comments from Bennett as he worked to get back on track, and he was confident better days were ahead.
What do you think the future holds for Bennett?
"I told them pretty much it was a disappointing season for me, but I'm not going to stop there," he said. "I'm not going to get down on myself. I'm going to continue to work hard throughout the whole summer and do my thing in summer league."
Ultimately, it's hard to know exactly what to expect from Bennett in his second season following a change of scenery. Though it's unlikely he will transform into a major factor right away, Minnesota will hope he can at least become a more reliable contributor.
Plenty of untapped potential remains, but there's a lot of work to do. If he can make steady progress over the next couple years, perhaps three or four years down the road he will become the star Cleveland thought it was getting when it drafted him.
As for now, the Cavaliers will start chasing championships with James and Love while the Timberwolves will begin focusing on growing and building around their young core.