We have reached the doldrum period of the NBA offseason. The fever pitch of the first week of July has slowed to the faintest of trickles, with even the most mundane rumors and news getting its own wave of analysis.
We're probably a week away from a minimum-salaried veteran earning his own 3,000-word blog post on the 10 minutes per night he's going to receive. The FIBA World Cup in Spain cannot come soon enough. Or, at the very least, maybe the NBA could give fans a nugget of information on the 2014-15 schedule. Anything to satiate the desires of the basketball-adoring public.
Looking down the barrel of the rumor mill leaves little more than rehashes of stories that have been carried out through the summer. There is finally some level of tangible news with the futures of Kevin Love and Ray Allen, though most have expected the answers we received for a while now. There has honestly been more overseas movement than in the NBA over the last 24 hours.
Which is just fine unless you rely on the league's rumor mill to churn out fresh content like piping-hot butter. For now, the never-dying rumor mill seems to have taken a brief slumber. With that in mind, let's just take a quick look at the Love-Allen situation and break down a few other things that are hanging in the ether.
Kevin Love Trade Agreed Upon in Principle
Everyone go high-five your neighbors. After months of being the NBA's most-discussed storyline, Love is on the precipice of being only part of the NBA's most-discussed storyline. Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo Sports confirmed the league's worst-kept secret last week: Love will be traded to Cleveland on or right after Aug. 23 in exchange for Andrew Wiggins, Anthony Bennett, a first-round pick and likely some salary flotsam.
As Brian Windhorst and Marc Stein of ESPN noted, this deal has been in the works for more than a month. While not a requirement of LeBron James' "Coming Home" spiel, there was background knowledge that this would be a possibility. Leaving Bennett and Wiggins out of the Sports Illustrated letter shows the level of calculation that's been going on here for a while.
The Love trade has been dissected to the point where everyone can analyze it shorthand. I've already written countless times on the subject. Those articles can be found on the World Wide Web. To recap: What the Cavs/LeBron are doing to Wiggins and his career development is pretty unfair. Cleveland also has to jump at the opportunity to land one of the league's 10 best players. Minnesota needs to jump at the opportunity to land someone who may be one of the league's 10 best players someday.
It's all a perfect storm that creates an instant Eastern Conference favorite in Cleveland. For all of the bloviation you'll hear from analysts and the passionate sect of Bulls fans who think 2014 Pau Gasol is 2007 Pau Gasol, the Cavs become hands down the best team this side of the Mississippi.
Love, James and Kyrie Irving rival Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook and Serge Ibaka for the most talented Big Three in basketball, and Cleveland's tertiary pieces are quietly pretty decent. Dion Waiters, for all his mental foibles, is actually quite an accomplished catch-and-shoot player. Waiters also came into the NBA garnering Dwyane Wade comparisons—whatever that's worth.
Anderson Varejao, when healthy, combines with Love to give Cleveland one of the league's best passing frontcourts. The Cavs are going to lead the league in offensive efficiency. It's almost impossible to envision another scenario.
Where they'll struggle is on the other end of the floor, where neither Varejao nor Love can protect the rim at an elite level. Losing Wiggins also eliminates an elite perimeter defender next to James. One of the byproducts of adding Love is that it weirdly makes James' job a little more difficult from a two-way sense.
But there's a difference between "title favorite" and "conference favorite." The West remains head and shoulders above the East. The Cavs' flaws would face a much higher exposure rate in seven games against, say, the Clippers than they will against a Chicago roster with its host of problems. Something tells me the virtual watercooler will be arguing about this for the rest of summer.
Ray Allen Coming Back, Possibly Joining Love and LeBron in Cleveland
Again, not the best-kept secret in the world. ESPN's Chris Broussard reported Allen has been telling people close to him that he plans on playing next season, though the destination is not entirely decided.
Cleveland stands as a front-runner, but its lack of cap flexibility might be a turnoff. Allen, a 10-time All-Star and future Hall of Famer, would have to take a veteran's minimum salary to follow his friend to Northeast Ohio.
Then again, Allen's camp has been strident in their denials of any such decision being made.
"As Ray has previously stated, he is taking this time to make a decision whether or not he will play next season," Allen's agent, Jim Tanner, told USA Today. "Any reports otherwise are false."
I'd still say it's a pretty safe bet Allen winds up back on an NBA floor next season. Despite a regression into full-on turnstile mode defensively, the greatest shooter in league history remains just that. Allen knocked down 37.5 percent of his three-point jumpers in 2013-14, which ranks among the worst rates of his career but still puts him in an above-average class.
It also cannot be understated what Allen's presence can do for an offense. A decade-and-a-half of killing opposing teams with wide-open jumpers has made defenders skittish. Allen commands a defender near his hip-pocket at all times, which would allow James, Irving and Waiters more room to roam. The Heat averaged 112.7 points per 100 possessions last season when James and Allen shared the floor, a rate that would have led the league by a mile.
Although Broussard's report notes it's possible Allen signs elsewhere, finding a different landing spot is more difficult than you'd think.
The Thunder could throw one of their exceptions Allen's way, but they're already teetering on the edge of the luxury tax. If Clay Bennett has proven anything, it's a fundamental opposition to spending a few extra bucks to ensure his team's continued competitiveness. A team like the Spurs would be interesting if they weren't already so stacked on the wing.
In all likelihood, Allen and Love will help complete Cleveland's offseason. Allen will slot in behind Waiters to help offset Wiggins' departure (at least offensively), and he'll knock down a whole heaping pile of threes. Again, the Cavs' offense is going to be ridiculously good next season.
Bennett Going to Philly in Love Deal
Despite all logic pointing in the opposite direction, it sure looks that way. Mark Perner of the Philadelphia Daily News reported the trade of Thaddeus Young for Anthony Bennett will be attached to the Love deal, a move that was speculated about previously.
Understanding all the reasons this is mind-numbingly poor management for the Wolves and a smart move for Sam Hinkie shouldn't be that hard. Minnesota is being run by Flip Saunders, who is apparently putting his own desire to complete for 35 wins ahead of the franchise's long-term development.
Hinkie is all about the long-term development—to the point where he seems to actively hate the present. This trade will annoy me when it goes down.
E'Twaun Moore Among Potential Cavs Signees
Categorizing this one under the "I'll believe it when I see it" category. David Pick of Eurobasket has guard E'Twaun Moore getting "strong consideration" from the Cavs, who seemingly do not realize NBA rosters are limited to 15 players.
Moore averaged 6.3 points and 1.4 assists per game on 42.8 percent shooting last season, his second with the Magic. What adding Moore would accomplish for the Cavs is a little confusing. Matthew Dellavedova had a fine rookie season and will quietly be among Cleveland's most reliable perimeter defenders. Moore and Dellavedova might be able to reliably defend second-team perimeter players, but neither are great scorers. This seems more like a backup-to-the-backup-plan deal.
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