It’s only a matter of time before Kevin Love is officially a member of the Cleveland Cavaliers and Andrew Wiggins is on the Minnesota Timberwolves, but the specifics of what appears to be a three-team trade are still being worked out.
Specifically, the Timberwolves and Philadelphia 76ers are still discussing terms and players.
However, that’s not the only rumor circulating around the league. Kevin Durant likely has big money and sneakers on his mind, and Dante Cunningham could be joining Minnesota as well.
With all that in mind, let’s take a look at the latest rumors from around the NBA.
Philadelphia 76ers and Minnesota Timberwolves Talking Shop
All indications are that the 76ers are going to be the third team in the Love trade, and Ryan Wolstat of the Toronto Sun has an update:
Wolves beat guys have been all over this, but FWIW, have heard from 2 sources Anthony Bennett staying in Minny, Thad Young still going there— Ryan Wolstat (@WolstatSun) August 21, 2014
This is a very fluid situation with a number of names being thrown around, but Wolstat and Jerry Zgoda of the Star Tribune kept up with the developments as of Thursday evening:
A third source confirms Anthony Bennett is staying in Minnesota, not heading to Philly.— Ryan Wolstat (@WolstatSun) August 21, 2014
Was pointed out to me that Embiid is extremely tight with Luc Mbah-a-Moute. Makes their end of Thad deal make a lot more sense.— Ryan Wolstat (@WolstatSun) August 21, 2014
From Minnesota’s perspective, it would have to be classified as a win if it could keep Thaddeus Young, Wiggins and Anthony Bennett. The Timberwolves aren’t going to trade Wiggins, but the thought was that Bennett would be involved in acquiring Young. That is apparently no longer the case.
How many years until Minnesota returns to the playoffs?
Yes, Bennett disappointed in his rookie season, but he was a No. 1 pick and is still only 21 years old. Combining the last two No. 1 picks with 26-year-old Young is a major step in the right direction toward building a competitive and young core.
Minnesota is not going to win a title in the near future, which is one reason it is getting rid of Love, but those three pieces and Ricky Rubio, who is still only 23 years old, represent potential. If everyone fulfills that potential, this could be a team that makes the postseason relatively quickly.
From Philadelphia’s perspective, Joel Embiid is a critical cog for the future. It makes sense to acquire a mentor in Luc Mbah-a-Moute if it helps Embiid develop, even if Bennett has a higher ceiling than the former UCLA Bruin.
Darren Rovell of ESPN.com provided an update on the endorsement battle for Durant:
Kevin Durant's representation Roc Nation Sports informed Nike on Wednesday that he has a deal on the table with Under Armour worth between $265 million and $285 million over 10 years, sources told ESPN.com.
The deal includes Under Armour stock and other incentives, such a community center built in his mother's name, whose exact worth will not be known for some time.
Nike, which saw its signature business related to the Oklahoma City Thunder forward grow to roughly $175 million at retail last season, will have the right to match, which is a condition of Durant's current contract with the brand. Durant can still choose Nike if it doesn't match but can't legally choose Under Armour if Nike does.
Rovell also notes that the potential deal would represent Under Armour’s largest sponsorship ever and that nearly 10 percent of the current annual marketing budget would be directed toward Durant.
It’s really not that surprising that Under Armour is targeting Durant with so much money. The forward grew up in Maryland, and the Baltimore-based company is known for sponsoring local teams and athletes. The Maryland Terrapins, Michael Phelps, Navy and the Baltimore Ravens come to mind.
What’s more, Durant is still only 25 years old.
LeBron James may be the king of basketball right now, but he is older than Durant and has more mileage on his legs. If Durant was to win a title within the next couple of years as James gradually exits his prime, he could be the face of the league.
Under Armour certainly hopes so if this deal goes through.
Darren Wolfson of 5 Eyewitness News and 1500ESPN.com noted that the Timberwolves could bring back a piece from last year:
Still a long-shot, but I wouldn't necessarily rule out a Dante Cunningham return. There's been dialogue in the last two days. #twolves— Darren Wolfson (@DarrenWolfson) August 20, 2014
Wolfson also hinted as to why the two sides are even having discussions in the first place:
All charges against Dante Cunningham have been dismissed, per source. #twolves— Darren Wolfson (@DarrenWolfson) August 18, 2014
Cunningham discussed the charges, their impact on his free agency and his reaction to the boos he heard last season before he was cleared, according to The Associated Press (via 1500 ESPN): "That's been the most nerve-racking thing, knowing there were teams interested but they couldn't make any offers. I just hated the fact of getting booed. I just hated my fans not knowing the truth."
Cunningham played the 2012-13 and 2013-14 seasons for the Timberwolves and appeared in 161 games in the process. If nothing else, he is a durable piece that can serve as a solid forward in a deeper rotation.
On his career, Cunningham is averaging 6.2 points and 3.9 rebounds a game, and he played more than 20 minutes a night the past two years in Minnesota. He is a stretch forward with athleticism and length that help on the defensive end.
With his skill set, it would be surprising if he didn’t find a landing spot somewhere in the NBA if the Timberwolves ultimately look elsewhere.
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