Finally, we can all stop talking about Kevin Love to the Cavaliers in will they or won't they context. While the deal still won't be made official for another couple of weeks, we now know it's happening.
The Cavs will acquire Love from the Timberwolves in exchange for Andrew Wiggins, the top pick in the 2014 NBA Draft, and Anthony Bennett, the top pick in the 2013 NBA Draft, and a protected 2015 first round pick, Adrian Wojnarowski with Yahoo! Sports reported Thursday morning.
In addition, "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."
Let's look at the highlights:
- Love agreeing to a long-term deal is a huge deal for the Cavaliers. No way could they risk dealing the last two No. 1 overall picks without guaranteeing the All-Star power forward would stick around for several years. Then again, he hasn't actually agreed to anything, yet. Of course...
- Since LeBron's two-year deal has opt-out clauses in 2015 and 2016, Love will hold his breath a little in the hopes that the four-time MVP doesn't get pissy with Cavs owner Dan Gilbert and bolt. Regardless, adding the All-Star power forward and double-double machine to James and point guard Kyrie Irving surely makes Cleveland the betting favorite for the 2015 NBA title. The Chicago Bulls might be the actual team to beat with the Wizards, Heat, Raptors, Hawks and Hornets somewhere in the mix.
- The Timberwolves rocked this trade considering their seemingly minimal leverage a couple of months ago once it was clear Love wanted out Minnesota. I'm not somebody who is convinced Wiggins will be the NBA's next great young star, but clearly he's an athletic marvel who can already defend at a very high level. Based on potential alone, the swingman is a tremendous haul in such a hostage situation. Then Minnesota also lands Bennett. Sure, like many in the 2013 class, his rookie season was a bust. Like Otto Porter with the Wizards, expect better days ahead assuming that Bennett is in better physical shape.
- The deal cannot be finalized until Aug. 23. Wiggins cannot be traded until one month after the signing of his rookie contract. Per Wojnarowski, "The two teams have agreed to the deal, but neither would have recourse if the other decided to pull out of the arrangement before it can be formally completed this month. No third team is involved in the Cavaliers-Timberwolves trade agreement. The precise deal terms have been agreed upon for weeks, but the teams and Love plan to stay silent about the particulars until the trade is announced in 16 days, sources told Yahoo Sports.
- More good news for the Cavs: They don't have to take on any unwanted salary. Nice move for Cavs general manager LeBron James.
- Downside for the Timberwolves, the inability to shed any of their unwanted contracts like Kevin Martin or J.J. Barea. Perhaps that comes in a subsequent deal with Bennett as bait. Regardless, they still did fine.
- The Cavs still have work remaining. Even though Love is a tremendous rebounder, he's not much on the defensive end. Anderson Varejao is, but Cleveland's big man has missed tons of games due to injures in recent seasons. Even if Varejao, who turns 32 in September, is healthy, he's ideally more of a 25-minute player. The only other viable interior option on the roster is the underwhelming Tristan Thompson. If we imagine a Cleveland-Chicago Eastern Conference final, we know the Bulls will play defense. We can't say for sure the Cavs will get it done in that department at this point. Of course...
- One unsung key to the Miami Heat's success was their ability to land some free agents below market value, including Chris "Birdman" Andersen, because of the sincere opportunity to win an NBA title. We'll see if the Cavs can find some more help.
- So much of what James wrote in his return-to-Cleveland "letter" touched the heart of even the most jaded sportswriter. No doubt the kid from Akron wanted to come home. Also no doubt James knew he wasn't really "going into a situation with a young team." Remember, the names Andrew Wiggins and Anthony Bennett are never mentioned in the letter. Realize that "young" isn't so much age, but experience. Love is 25 and Irving is 22. By every real world measure they are kids. They're also kids have significant NBA experience and achievement, at least individually. In time, it's possible Wiggins and Bennett will form an equal or even great combo than Love and Irving. That time won't come in the next 2-4 years. That's the window of opportunity James is starring at. Knowing the deal for Love was truly realistic certainly helped James declare, "I’m ready to accept the challenge. I’m coming home."
- Finally, this gonna be fun...