Nearing the end of a summer full of blockbuster deals and huge signings around the league, the biggest trade in the NBA has yet to happen.
Kevin Love is, at this point, still a member of the Minnesota Timberwolves. As for Andrew Wiggins, he technically remains on the Cleveland Cavaliers roster—for now. But if the rumors are true, both players will be likely swapping places in 10 days.
Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo Sports reported the deal earlier this month:
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.
While the deal is reportedly agreed to in principle, the rules of NBA rookie contracts say that Wiggins can't be dealt until Aug. 23. In the meantime, reactions around the league are running rampant.
As the date continues to grow closer, here's a look at the latest from the league-changing move.
Breaking Down Wiggins-Love Trade
Before getting into what this means for the Cavaliers, let's take a look at the Timberwolves' side of the deal.
After falling short of getting a high pick in the 2014 NBA draft, the T-Wolves got their cake and, well, you know the rest. Minnesota not only got a supremely athletic player in Zach LaVine, but it also traded for the last two No. 1 picks in Wiggins and Anthony Bennett.
Along with his untapped talent at the NBA level, Wiggins also appears to be motivated to shine for the T-Wolves. The former Kansas player had a conversation with Bill Self about his thoughts on the trade. Here's what Self had to say about their conversation, per The Associated Press (via Sporting News):
When all this trade stuff started, I talked to Andrew and Andrew told me, 'I hope I get traded.' And I'm like, 'No you don't.' And he said, 'Coach, I do. It's better for me, knowing my personality and what I need to do, to go somewhere where I'm forced to be something as opposed to going in there where they're going to be patient with me and I'm going to be a piece.'
With the trade, Wiggins will go to a team that truly wants him, and he also gets the chance to be the true superstar. Before he ever took the court, the No. 1 pick was already going to be overshadowed by both LeBron James and Kyrie Irving.
Now, the biggest star on the court with him will likely be Ricky Rubio. Playing with a pass-first point guard, Wiggins will likely find himself on the receiving end of several dimes from the Spanish player.
On the Timberwolves' side, this deal completely makes sense. Minnesota wasn't going to re-sign Love, and what the franchise was doing simply wasn't working, failing to make the playoffs with Love on the roster.
While his former coach was open to discussing Wiggins' thoughts, the player himself has been slightly more reserved. But one thing he made very clear was that he isn't worried about his game with Minnesota, per the AP (via NBC Sports):
Does the potential Love/Wiggins deal make the Cavs the best team in the East?
"Anywhere, any team," he said. "I can play anywhere."
Retooling with Wiggins, Bennett and LaVine means the team has youth and talent to go along with Rubio. If Wiggins truly does emerge into a superstar, the franchise might just see its postseason dreams come true within the next several years.
As for the Cavaliers, so much for James waiting a few years to win another championship. Even in his announcement that he was "coming home," James said he was up for the challenge of building the franchise.
Less than two months later, he will have a younger, more dynamic Big Three in Cleveland. Bill Simmons of Grantland shared his thoughts on the deal for Love's future:
I see Love thriving on the pick-and-pop with LeBron or Kyrie to frighteningly efficient degrees.
I see this trade reinventing Love’s NBA career much like Phoenix reinvented Barkley. Love won’t win the MVP, but he’ll win our respect. And he won’t be polarizing anymore. He’s going to kill it in Cleveland. I really believe that.
Though Wiggins has the potential to blossom into a perennial All-Star in the NBA, the Cavs get a 25-year-old proven star in exchange. Ethan Strauss of ESPN.com made it simple when explaining the trade for Cleveland:
For Cleveland to regret the trade, Wiggins would have to really exceed reasonable expectations— Ethan Strauss (@SherwoodStrauss) August 8, 2014
While comparing the numbers between Love and Irving to Chris Bosh and Dwyane Wade might be useful, there's one area where the new stars come up short—playoff experience. The Miami Heat duo has a combined 241 postseason games, but the Cavs tandem hasn't tipped off one playoff contest.
Putting it simply, the young superstars have a lot to learn about playing into June. But once they get there, Love and Irving will be much more fresh than both Bosh and Wade.
For Cleveland, the city now has a team that can contend for a championship right away. With a leader in King James, a wealth of talent in the paint and a true point guard in Irving, the first championship is now attainable for the Cavaliers franchise.
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