Congratulations, Cleveland Cavaliers. You won the 2014 NBA offseason.
It wasn’t enough when you won the draft lottery for seemingly the 200th year in a row or when LeBron James decided to return home. It wasn’t enough when Mike Miller and James Jones brought their three-point shooting strokes to the banks of Lake Erie.
Nope, you had to make an agreement with the Minnesota Timberwolves to bring in superstar Kevin Love, as Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo Sports reported. Bryan Armen Graham of Mic News noted that the move makes Cleveland the presumed favorite to bring home the title:
Cleveland's odds of winning NBA title: 60/1 after NBA Finals, 4/1 after LeBron signed, 5/2 after today's trade. pic.twitter.com/8aeNWpfcIo— Bryan Armen Graham (@BryanAGraham) August 7, 2014
Anytime a move of that caliber is made, there is sure to be some fallout. With that in mind, let’s look at some of the reverberations on the rumor mill.
A Third Team Involved?
Jon Krawczynski of The Associated Press noted that another team could get involved in the megadeal before it is finalized:
So there is agreement on Love to CLE and Wiggins/Bennett here. But it is still possible in next 2 weeks that Philly joins as 3rd team.— Jon Krawczynski (@APkrawczynski) August 7, 2014
Plenty of ink will be spilled about how the Love trade makes the Cavaliers a walking super team, but whether Minnesota can get some more NBA-ready talent back from another squad is certainly of interest.
How many games does a Minnesota team featuring Rubio, Young and Wiggins win next year?
Jerry Zgoda of the Star Tribune discussed how the Wolves may look to grab Thaddeus Young from Philadelphia, but he made a point of noting that swapping Anthony Bennett for Young is not on the table as of now.
Rather, Minnesota could send the first-round pick it receives from Cleveland and perhaps the expiring contracts of J.J. Barea and Luc Mbah a Moute to the 76ers for Young. Nobody will mistake Young for Love, but he did post nightly averages of 17.9 points, six rebounds and 2.1 steals for Philadelphia last year and can also stretch the floor with a perimeter jumper.
A combination of Andrew Wiggins, Young and Ricky Rubio could at least keep the Timberwolves competitive in the near future while they look to rebuild.
Dion Waiters There to Stay
Sam Amico of Fox Sports Ohio provided an update on Dion Waiters:
Despite some rumors, the Cavs are not looking to move guard Dion Waiters. According to sources, Waiters (along with forward/center Anderson Varejao and power forward Tristan Thompson) was among the first people LeBron spoke to when announcing his decision to return to the Cavs.
Waiters put up 15.9 points, three assists and 2.8 rebounds a game behind 36.8 percent shooting from beyond the three-point line. His 14.0 player efficiency rating was slightly higher than his 13.7 mark in 2012-13, per his Basketball-Reference.com page.
Sure, Cleveland will have better options next season than Waiters, but expect the shooting guard’s numbers to actually improve even if his usage rate decreases. With so much defensive attention being directed toward the driving of James and Kyrie Irving and the shooting and low-post play of Love, Waiters should have plenty of open looks from deep.
For his part, Waiters let James know he was ready to go, via Brendan Bowers of SLAM:
I told him that I'm already working hard. I'll be ready. And he said, I know, I know you are. Then a few days later I read the letter. I was just really excited for the city of Cleveland. I think the city, more than anybody, deserves this. They deserve to have LeBron coming back. I think the excitement is really back in Cleveland and I'm looking forward to being a part of that.
There will be even more excitement in Cleveland if Waiters is drilling three-pointers all season as the forgotten man in the offense.
Cleveland’s Search for a Big Man
Amico filled fans in on the Cavs’ search for a big man as well:
"The Cavs have a few options to land another big man, either via trade or with a minimum-level salary. One is a younger player, the other has 'been around the block,' according to a FOX Sports Ohio source."
Cleveland could certainly look to target someone like Emeka Okafor, Andray Blatche or even (gasp) Andrew Bynum as the offseason winds down. For as loaded as this team may be with James, Love, Irving and Waiters, there isn’t much in the form of a rim protector or interior defense.
Yes, Anderson Varejao is still there and always has the potential to be a double-double guy, but durability is a huge risk. He played 31 games in 2010-11, 25 in 2011-12, 25 in 2012-13 and 65 in 2013-14, which doesn’t exactly inspire confidence from Cleveland’s perspective.
There is also Brendan Haywood, but he is 34 years old and missed all of last season in Charlotte with a foot injury.
We aren’t exactly talking about a Tim Duncan and David Robinson pairing down low here.
The Cavaliers would probably be better off going after someone to shore up the paint on the defensive side than yet another shooter like Ray Allen. That’s nothing against Jesus Shuttlesworth himself, just a statement on what this roster needs since Miller, Jones and Waiters are already in place.
Of course, the way this offseason is going for Cleveland, it will probably find a way to land Shaquille O’Neal in his prime to start at center by opening day.
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