2014 Offseason, Summer of Love, Transactions

Kevin Love to Cleveland: Wolves-Cavs-Sixers deal is officially official


It’s finally official. Officially official. The frequently discussed deal to send Kevin Love to the Cleveland Cavaliers has finally been announced as an done deal.

Let’s look at the breakdown:

Minnesota receives: Andrew Wiggins, Anthony Bennett, Thaddeus Young, trade exception

Cleveland receives: Kevin Love

Philadelphia receives: Alexey Shved, Luc Richard Mbah a Moute, Miami’s (top 10 protected) 2015 first round pick


The deal has been discussed off and on for a number of months now, but was amplified when LeBron James made the decision to return to the Cleveland Cavaliers back in early July. After the LeBron announcement, rumors and speculation took off, especially since LeBron left Wiggins and Bennett’s names off of his announcement of guys he was ‘excited to play with’.

Talks with Cleveland were temporarily put on hold after Cleveland signed Wiggins to his rookie deal, due to a rule that makes it illegal to trade a rookie for 30 days after their first contract is signed. Still, reports came out during the waiting period that a handshake deal was in place.

Most saw this deal as the best of potential scenarios for the Wolves, but any trade involving a player like Kevin Love is going to have good stuff and bad stuff.

We’ll start with a few of the trade’s potential downsides:

1. Kevin Love is no longer a Wolf. As Zach Harper mentioned earlier in the month, the only scenario better than what happened was Love changing his mind and sticking around.

Even with the potential that comes with a prospect like Andrew Wiggins, the rookie’s best-case scenario really can’t be much better than Love’s reality. Kevin Love is a top 5-10 player in the NBA; Wiggins getting anywhere in that territory is an absolute win for the Wolves, but far from a guarantee.

With Love’s departure, a lot more pressure will fall on Nikola Pekovic to rebound the basketball for the starting lineup, as Thaddeus Young’s rebounding has never been a strength.

It isn’t just that, either. Kevin Love stretched the floor. Thaddeus Young tried expanding his range last year (shot 30 percent from deep, took an average of nearly 4 3-pointers per game), but does the majority of his damage in the paint. He and Pek may have moments of awkward growing pains early in the season as they work to figure each other out as teammates.

There’s obviously more than just this. Brewer loses the other half of his beautiful outlet marriage. Kevin Martin will almost surely have to work harder to get open shots. Ricky Rubio will have to pay for long distance to keep Love Dial going as a thriving business. A lot will have to be worked out by new coach Flip Saunders.

2. Coming along with Wiggins is the 2013 (shocking) #1 pick Anthony Bennett. Bennett’s historically bad rookie season, especially early on, typically ranged from bad to worse. He only entered the scoring column in 3 of his first 10 games, didn’t hit double figures until late January, and only accomplished that feat 6 times all season.

The combination of his shaky play and some nagging injuries (shoulder surgery) kept him out of several games. It looks like he lost some weight and had tonsil surgery to free up his breathing. Obviously, there’s still hope, and his game can only get better from what we saw last year, but there hasn’t been a top pick in a long time that has had this steep of an upward climb ahead.

3. No more outlets to Corey. I can’t stress to you all how sad that makes me.
 photo qblove.gif

On a similar note, how wild are the Love outlets to LeBron going to be?


Anyway, onto some upsides:


1. We’ll start with the obvious: the acquisition of Andrew Wiggins. For those of you who aren’t completely familiar with his output in college, read this post over at Canis Hoopus for some really good, in-depth analysis. The Wolves received the guy that some were calling the best high school prospect since LeBron James, and a guy that plays very well on both sides of the ball. And, in case you were unaware, Mr. Wiggins can jump quite high. See: above.

The point has been brought up a lot, but his inability to “get mean” during games has been part of his downfall, even according to KU coach Bill Self. His jumper and ball handling still need some work as well, but overall, there is a lot to be excited about for the 19 year old.

He’s a freak athlete, but he isn’t just an athlete. He’s a smart player on both ends who knows how to properly use his athleticism to his advantage. Defensively, he’s typically very calculated on picking and choosing when to jump out for steals (he doesn’t do it often). Offensively, he makes up for his ball handling issues by getting to the free throw line. A lot. He got there over 10 times in 7 games this past season at Kansas, including 19 trips to the line in his 41-point outburst against West Virginia.

The Wolves are losing a star, but maybe they’ll get one back in Wiggins.

2. The trade bolsters the Wolves’ bench quite a bit. With the acquisition of Wiggins, it’s very likely that we’ll now see Corey Brewer move to the bench in  6th man-type of role. He thrived in that role as a member of the Denver Nuggets, and should see a similar role if Flip Saunders chooses to roll with Wiggins in the starting 5 right away.

Bringing in Young is also huge for the bench. Without him in the deal, the Wolves are scrambling to find a starting power forward. With him, not only is the starting 5 (mostly) set, but they may also be able to alternate Gorgui Dieng and (ideally) Anthony Bennett as the backup 4, depending on matchups.

While unrelated, the signing of Mo Williams helps a great deal. JJ Barea is still on the roster, but his role and his future are unclear at this point. Still, he thrived the most as the third guard off of Dallas’ bench during their 2011 championship run. Perhaps the same could be done here.

3. This team is going to be FUN. The departure of Love almost certainly means more chances for Ricky Rubio to facilitate (look for the pick and roll between Ricky and Pekovic to be used more often this season), which means he’ll spend less time as an off-ball jump shooter.

Most importantly, Rubio will have more combined vertical than ever to use at his disposal. Between Wiggins, Brewer, and Zach LaVine, there will be plenty of opportunities to see some good highlight basketball this year. Factor in Pek on the pick and roll, and Young’s and Martin’s ability to move without the ball, things could get interesting.

At times, it will be fast and exciting, other times, the offense might be fluid and calculated. It all depends on personnel, but it should be fun regardless.

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15 thoughts on “Kevin Love to Cleveland: Wolves-Cavs-Sixers deal is officially official

  1. I’m on board to watch some fun basketball this year! We’ll definitely have some growing pains this year and probably look awful some nights, but hey – we have now have the strong idea and feeling of hope for the first time in a few years. The thought of losing Love eventually is finally out of our minds and now we can really start to build towards the future.

    Concerns for future development of this team:
    -The impending contract talks and further development of Ricky Rubio. I’ll be honest and I’m often probably (PROBABLY) overly critical of Ricky’s play. We all know this adorable young man is fun to watch and makes our heads spin with some of the reads and passes he makes – which will probably be amplified now with how athletic (the Wolves are FINALLY athletic!) we are. For Rubio we need to surround him with athletes and shooters who can play off the ball. I think we are making strides at this. I’m not so sure players like Bud and Brewer and even to a lesser extent Martin make good long-term fits if Ricky is going to be the leader of this ship.

    -Thad is a very, very nice piece we got in return for the “assets” we gave up. I’m just concerned where we will be if he does opt out. Who knows – maybe Bennett will improve enough to go into next season at the starter but the realist in myself probably thinks he won’t be that guy. I’m not complaining about what we gave up to get Thad, because that pick is going to be be blah regardless.

    -The organizations reputation of not developing many young player with talent. Wiggins, Bennett, LaVine and to a much lesser extent GRIII – all have tons of talent. I’m not so sold on Flip as the coach, nor many of his assistants. Here’s to wishing Sikma would have been brought back to continue to work with Pek and Dieng.

    -Being not good enough, or not bad enough to be a “player’s destination” or obtaining high level draft picks. I think we’ll be in NBA purgatory for a few years….

    ……But here’s to hoping Ricky makes a leap, Wiggins shine’s right away, Pek and Martin staying healthy, and Flip finding a way to use LaVine effeciently. #EYESONTHERISE

  2. There will be some HORRIBLE half court offense when the play slows down. Only 3 players on the roster can shoot the 3! 3! (And only one projects into the starting lineup, combine that with Mr. on the road to worst shooter of all time, just imagine the horror)

    My oh my will transition be fun though. What I will really miss is the Love to Lavine outlet connection that never will be. 29 year old LBJ is not the highflyer LaVine is, I foresaw outlet alley-oops…


  3. WarmMilk, I agree with your third bullet of concern. With that said, from what I’ve read about Ryan Saunders, hopefully he can work a lot with Wiggins to get his dribble to where it needs to be for a starting small forward. It seems he had a pretty positive impact with John Wall, so hopefully the same happens with Wiggins, and improving Lavine’s left hand dribble.

  4. With the expiring Barea contract and the $6 mil trade exception the Wolves could still add a valuable piece. Is there any word on how/if the Wolves plan to use those assets?

  5. Any more trade targets? Would someone like Iman Shumpert, Kyle Korver or Ryan Anderson be a target if they couple Kevin Martin JJ Barea and the trade exception?

  6. The trade exception can’t be traded with other players.

    Young has never been an average 3 point shooter, but he started doing it early in his career and stopped when Doug Collins coached Philly. It’s not out of the question that he can pick it back up. I was discouraged that Flip thinks Bennett shot too many 3s; ideally, anyone who can make 33% should shoot them.

    I’ve mentioned it previously, but the idea that the Wolves don’t develop talent is demonstrably false. They may not be awesome at it, but their draft busts didn’t make it in the NBA at all and guys who had more team success after leaving also had better teams around them. The problem has historically been their drafting. Related to that, the coaches have to prove that they can strategize in the modern NBA, but let’s not pretend any of us knows for sure they’ll be better or worse or that any assistant is irreplaceable because they might have done a good job.

  7. gjk can you explain where you are getting your information that a trade exception cannot be used with other players?

    Traded Player Exception[edit]
    If a team trades away a player with a higher salary than the player they acquire in return (the deal hereafter referred to as “Trade #1”), they receive a Traded Player Exception, also known as a “Trade Exception”. Teams with a trade exception have up to a year in which they can acquire more salary in other trades (Trade #2, #3, etc.) than they send away, as long as the gulf in salaries for Trade #2, #3, etc. are less than or equal to the difference in salary for Trade #1. This exception is particularly useful when teams trade draft picks directly for a player; since draft picks have no salary value, often the only way to get salaries to match is to use a trade exception, which allows trades to be made despite unbalanced salaries. It is also useful to compensate teams for losing free agents, as they can do a sign and trade of that free agent to acquire a trade exception that can be used later. Note this exception is for single player trades only, though additional cash and draft picks can be part of the trade.

  8. by single player they mean not multiple players not a 2 for 1 + the exception. but you can do a 1 for 1 + the exception to make up an imbalance in salaries.

  9. The Celtics picked up Thornton and Zeller this offseason in that Cavs/Nets deal with their exception, but I looked at a site supposedly based on Larry Coon’s site that turned out wrong. The Internet is unreliable.

  10. I’ll miss Love but I love the idea of the “rebuild”. Best case scenario is the Wolves take some lumps the next couple of years but by the time the youth/talent on this team starts hitting their stride, a couple/few spots in the Western playoff picture become ours for the taking. If the Western Conference is so crowded that 45-48 wins won’t even get you in, I imagine a few teams will dropoff right when the Wolves gain momentum. I agree in your Love to Brewer outlet pass assessment…that was a highlight on a nightly basis and good for at least 6 points a game it seemed. It was a thing of beauty. LeBron is going to KILL it with those passes.

  11. Hopefully Cleveland also transferred its rights to get the #1 pick every year since they won’t be eligible and we will. Seriously, I hope we don’t trade for guys to give us a few extra wins now. If they do trade for veterans, it should be veterans who are interested in mentoring the young guys, who have similar skills to at least one of the young guys needing shaping.

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