As reported by Yahoo! Sports, the Minnesota Timberwolves have agreed to trade All Star forward to the Cleveland Cavaliers in exchange for 2014 #1 overall draft pick Andrew Wiggins, forward Anthony Bennett and a protected 2015 first round draft pick. The trade cannot be officially announced until the 30-day moratorium on draft pick signings passes; which in Wiggins’ case will be on August 23.
The news culminates what is perhaps the worst kept secret in recent sports history. Since informing the Timberwolves that he will opt out of his contract at season-end and test the free agent market, Minnesota has been working on fielding offers for the 25-year old’s services. A player of Love’s talents is a rare commodity in the league; with Love averaging 26 points and 12.5 rebounds last season. and 19 points and 12.2 rebounds throughout his career. Where as the Cavaliers were once not considered a serious potential destination in June, circumstances have since changed through Cleveland’s signing of LeBron James.
The initial concern with trading for Kevin Love was the team’s ability to sign the power foward to a long-term deal. As Minnesota was a losing team unable to offer much appeal to the future free agent, so were the Cavaliers. With LeBron on the roster, the likelihood of signing Love to a lengthy contract increases exponentially. In fact, it is also believed that the Cavaliers will sign Love to a five-year $120 million contract shortly after the trade is official.
With Love in place, the Cavaliers have propelled the franchise from Eastern Conference also-ran to the leading contender to represent the conference in the NBA Finals. That would be the case even if Indiana Pacers forward had not suffered a horrific broken leg scrimmaging with Team USA last week. While most of this ascension can be attributed directly to James’ return to Ohio, the young talent Cleveland has compiled on the roster and prominent draft selections cannot be completely discounted. Having a trade chip in Wiggins was a key in separating the Cavaliers from other NBA teams in their bid for Love’s services. In fact, the Cavaliers reluctance to include Wiggins in initially was a likely cause in the trade not happening sooner.
Adding James and Love to 2014 All Star game MVP Kyrie Irving results in a “Big Three” that exceed those of the Boston Celtics and Miami Heat in seasons’ prior. The youth in place and the strong likelihood that Love will sign long-term in Cleveland presents an even better scenario. Fans need not look too far back to witness a broken down Dwayne Wade seemingly incapable of rising up to his previous performance standards.
The Cavaliers have not just added James and Love. Their arrivals in town are having a domino effect throughout the league; with players already signing on to be part of Cleveland’s basketball renaissance (James Jones, Mike Miller) or are nearing a decision to join James in his title quest (Shawn Marion, Ray Allen). There will be a few additional moves that Cleveland will have to make, but it is very safe to say that the heavy lifting by general manager David Griffin and owner Dan Gilbert is done. New head coach David Blatt will get perhaps the best roster any first-time NBA coach has ever inherited; something that didn’t seem likely a few months ago when he was hired.
The changing NBA landscape has all happened with Cleveland at the epicenter. The seismic shift in league balance has elevated title hopes in a city that has not seen a championship in 50 years. For Cleveland sports fans; barring an unforseen injury, that lengthy drought is likely to end very soon.