Love or Wiggins? For Cavs, answer not so simple
Some general thoughts on the Andrew Wiggins-Kevin Love talk, and what we (probably) know:
1. The Cavs and Timberwolves have taken part in discussions, and repeated discussions at that. And the Cavs would love to add Love to a roster that already features the likes of LeBron James and Kyrie Irving.
2. Wiggins signed his rookie contract with the Cavs. That we know for sure, because the Cavs officially announced it Thursday afternoon. Per league rules, Wiggins cannot be traded for 30 days.
3. Timberwolves president/coach Flip Saunders has liked Wiggins since before the NBA draft, when the Cavs selected Wiggins with the No. 1 overall pick. Saunders wanted Wiggins then, and he wants him now. If Saunders is going to give up a guy such as Love, he wants a promising player such as Wiggins as part of the package in return.
4. While LeBron James hasn’t said a word, he probably prefers Love over Wiggins. That would be understandable. Love is a proven 26-point, 12-rebound (at least) power forward. Wiggins is a 19-year old with major upside — but no proven NBA track record. Wiggins has no history as a pro. All we can do is take educated guesses.
5. James wants to win titles. He didn’t come back to the Akron/Cleveland area solely to hang at the local burger establishment (although it is believed he is very much looking forward to that as well). Love would probably give the Cavs a better shot at a title right away. But maybe not, too. Again, maybe Wiggins will be a stud right away. We just don’t know.
6. It makes sense for the Cavs to sign Wiggins and continue negotiations with the Timberwolves. The Cavs should settle for nothing less than the deal they want. By signing Wiggins, at the very least, general manager David Griffin and owner Dan Gilbert are showing they’re not in any big rush. Why should they be? Training camp doesn’t start until October.
7. Despite reports, the market for Love actually appears fairly dry right now. No one seems to be making a concrete offer. There’s a lot of talk, a lot of things being floated. But I’d be shocked if Saunders is sitting in his office and saying, "Well, we have to decide between the Cavs, Bulls and Warriors. Who should I pick?" It’s more likely that Saunders is wishing someone would do something to get him excited.
8. Saunders is a good man, a smart coach and from the Cleveland area. Not sure if he is the one floating the trade rumors to the media, and it is not my intent to accuse him of doing so. I have no idea. But one league source claimed, "All this stuff is textbook Flip." So that’s something to keep in mind during all this noise.
9. Ultimately, I think the Cavs will have to trade Wiggins if they want Love. That’s not a fact. That’s my opinion. And I’ve been wrong before — lots, actually. But I’m paid to analyze/give my opinion on the NBA. I’m trying to earn my paycheck. And my OPINION is that the Cavs will end up having to surrender Wiggins.
10. Another opinion: I think it’d be awesome if the Cavs could somehow get Love and keep Wiggins. I also think it’d be awesome to watch Wiggins and second-year man Anthony Bennett (and yes, Dion Waiters and Tristan Thompson) grow next to James and Irving. It’d be cool for NBA fans everywhere, not just Cleveland. I actually think that’s true even if Love isn’t on the team.
11. There are pluses and minuses to both scenarios in Cleveland. Most coaches and GMs will tell you it’s a no-brainer: If you have the opportunity to pair a transcendent power forward like Love next to LeBron, you do it. Love is the only guy in the NBA who can be a "stretch four" and lead the league in rebounding. The only one. So if you can get Love, you get him. Even if you have to give up a dynamic young guy like Wiggins, say a lot of people involved in the game.
12. At the same time, the Cavs will have a lot more roster flexibility if they keep Wiggins and the other youngsters. But I get the sense that’s not real appealing to LeBron. Now, I haven’t asked him. It’s just a hunch.
13. OK, I’m rambling now, so I’ll conclude with these final two points: With Love or with Wiggins, I expect the Cavs to be pretty doggone good. I think they’d be better, at least right away, with Love.
14. This is no longer about the "process" of building for the future. This is about winning championships, and winning them now. Having LeBron on your team demands that. So Cavs fans may need to get used that idea. After the previous four years, that may take some adjusting. So whatever moves the Cavs make, you can bet it will be ones that help them win big right away. Flexibility, assets, and so on and so on … those things are important, but they are no longer priority No. 1. In fact, they’re probably not even in the top three.
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