Kevin Love for Andrew Wiggins?
In case you somehow weren’t aware, LeBron James played wide receiver at St. Vincent-St. Mary. Now he could potentially be playing that same position in the NBA if the Cavaliers front office manages to find him a quarterback in Minnesota’s star power forward Kevin Love. Everyone is aware of Love’s rebounding and shooting ability. The shooting is particularly enticing as the idea of the “stretch 4” has flooded the mainstream NBA collective consciousness as a tool to open an offense’s spacing, allowing the paint to open up for slashers to score. Where Love intrigues me is his ability to throw outlet passes, a somewhat lost art in the NBA, after grabbing one of the numerous rebounds he’s bound to get his hands on during the course of a game. Just check out this YouTube mix of passes highlighting Love’s quarterback like skills from just the first eight games of this past season.
He’s setting up players like Corey Brewer with ease. Replace Brewer with LeBron James the best transition basketball player I have EVER seen and you have a recipe for grabbing easy buckets every game. Sure it might not be the type of play that you can completely build an offense around, but on the dime outlet passes are one of the most enjoyable plays in basketball to witness and I’m all for getting to see them live week in and week out here in Cleveland.
Of course Love comes with a cost and Minnesota was always going to stamp a listed price of “One Andrew Wiggins” on Love’s forehead. If you have to give up a superstar player in a trade who wouldn’t want to get one of the best prospects to come out of college in the past ten years in return? For the Cavs though that’s a high price to pay for a player who has openly stated he wants out of the Timberwolves’ organization and is planning on testing free agency. Leverage is the key word to all the Love trade talks. Without a committment from Love to the teams interested in trading for him it is hard to justify giving up any real assets for him. This situation theoretically will create a smaller market for Love as teams will not be lining up at Minnesota’s door which should cause his price to go down. A team who has the ability to win now is more likely to risk assets on a player like Love, but those teams also in general possess the lowest value assets in terms of young players and picks. At the same time, even if Timberwolves fans accept that Love is gone, the organization is under a ton of pressure to get a good haul for a player who some consider to be among the top 10 in the NBA, even if history shows that isn’t necessarily the case. Gallinari was the best player obtained for Melo by Denver. Vucevic was the best player Orlando received when they traded Dwight Howard, and Derrick Favors (maybe?) was the best player Utah received when they traded Deron Williams. There is no real precedent of a player as touted as Wiggins being moved for an unsettled star player who wants out of his city and only has one year left on his deal.
Furthermore the Cavaliers should have time on their side as Wiggins is surely the most desirable piece that could ever be included by any team in exchange for Love, and so Minnesota is in some ways incentivized to wait for the Cavaliers in hopes that they perhaps get off to a slow start and the ensuing sense of urgency causes them to change their minds about their reported unwillingness to deal Wiggins. More likely though is that LeBron leading these young players into the season will actually INCREASE the trade value of many of the Cavaliers young players as they will excel playing off such an intelligent/unselfish player who creates so many scoring opportunities for those around him. If that does happen as well as Minnesota itself getting off to a so-so start in a loaded West, then really the pressure will lie solely on Minnesota as they either trade him before the deadline or risk losing him for absolutely nothing. The Cavaliers have a lot of talented young players not named Andrew Wiggins in addition to a whole treasure chest of draft picks stockpiled by Chris Grant. Would you rather rebuild around a sixteen million dollar a year Klay Thompson or multiple young players and legitimate draft picks? It’s your call Flip.