Amongst all the things going on in the sports world whether it’s Paul George knee injury, Durant withdrawing from Team USA, football preseason, Tiger Woods or baseball the one thing that was constantly being talked about was the potential Kevin Love trade. After all the formalities were settled, Kevin Love finally got his wish and his genie aka Flip Saunders traded him as part of a 3 team trade between Cleveland, Philadelphia and Minnesota. Cleveland receives Kevin Love, Minnesota receives Thaddeus Young, Anthony Bennett, Andrew Wiggins and 6.3 million trade exception and Philadelphia receives 2015 Miami Heat first round pick, Luc Richard Mbah a Moute and Alexey Shved. There are winners and losers (and I use that term loosely) with this trade. Some “winners” are Cleveland Cavaliers, LeBron James, Andrew Wiggins, Ricky Rubio and Klay Thompson. Some of the “losers” are Dion Waiters, Minnesota Timberwolves, Chicago Bulls, Flip Saunders and Cleveland’s financial flexibility.
Kevin Love should be cruising down East 99th Street blasting Bone Thugs-N-Harmony because for the love of money is actually what Kevin got. After his last deal is completed, he will re-up with a deal up to 5 year/120 million dollars. Cleveland is on a roll right now that’s turning into an avalanche. Getting the number one pick for the 3rd time in 4 years wasn’t enough, convincing arguably the greatest player alive to come back home didn’t quench their thirst, but now they wanna spread love the Cleveland way. The Cavs have become another team to form a Big 3. Is this the reincarnation of the 2010 Miami Heat? If so, who is dealing with the most pressure: Kevin Love, Kyrie Irving, LeBron James or David Blatt? This overhaul may not be done because Cleveland is trying to trade for Timofey Mozgov. The first question is why him out of all the big men available. Well, Mozgov’s former coach is…..you guessed it David Blatt. He already knows the system and he can provide frontcourt depth that Cleveland is lacking. On paper, Cleveland is a title contender but before we crown them let’s not forget about another team in the Eastern Conference as a matter of fact a team in the same division: Chicago Bulls. (We will talk about later on, I promise). Kyrie, LeBron and Kevin average 74 points, 23 rebounds and 17 assists per game and now that will all be one team. Will they be capable of doing those numbers again this season? Offensively, they can become a juggernaut but there will be some defensive deficiencies that can be exposed and be the catalyst for an untimely demise. The interesting thing is that they got a Top 10 player without restructuring their roster. Losing Wiggins could come back to haunt them, but Kevin is an established superstar so as a GM what do you do is that situation. They also signed Mike Miller, James Jones and Shawn Marion; will Ray Allen complete their offseason?
LeBron James has been winning for a long time, sure it may not be the championship all the time since he has a 2-3 record in the NBA Finals but what LeBron wants, LeBron gets. He wants to come back home…check, resign Kyrie to long term deal…check now getting Love….check but it wasn’t a discount double check but this will be pretty costly over the course of the next 5 years. Granted, this is the same guy that has been the NBA Finals 4 years in a row so replacing Wade and Bosh for Irving and Love isn’t a bad move and also makes the transition to possibly winning a championship a lot easier. Even though he says, “We’re not ready right now, no way” the signing of Kevin Love and other pieces is putting a plan in motion where a championship is in the foreseeable future.
Being touted as one of the best basketball prospects since LeBron James, Andrew Wiggins has gone through some changes that some people wouldn’t be able to cope with. As the saying goes, ‘a minor setback for a major comeback’. Sure, Andrew would want to play with LeBron but this opportunity to start and cement his own legacy will have a bigger impact then playing second maybe even third fiddle on a team. He’s limitless like the Bradley Cooper character now that he could be a franchise player with Minnesota. Wiggins becomes the number one option and he has a pass first, second and third point guard in Ricky Rubio so the opportunities will be there for him to flourish like a college kid getting his refund check.
Even though Klay Thompson isn’t a member of any of the teams involved in this trade, he’s a winner because the front office believed in his potential more than others. Truth be told, if Golden State would have included Klay Thompson in a trade, we are not talking about this trade at all. The brain trust of Minnesota preferred Klay Thompson, David Lee and Harrison Barnes over a Cleveland trade but things didn’t pan out that way. Instead of being sent to Minnesota he stays in Oakland and the Splash brothers will continue to wet the net.
Ricky Rubio is in his contract year and now has a bevy of young athletic talent to catch endless alley-oops and behind the back passes that would make Pistol Pete, Magic Johnson and Jason Williams tip their hat. In the past he has been critical of Kevin Love and his leadership abilities, now Ricky has the opportunity to seize the day and contract all at the same damn time.
With every trade or transaction there are winners and losers. Like I said earlier, I am using the term loser loosely. For example, Minnesota couldn’t be considered a winner in a trade that trades the second best Kevin to ever play for them; however the Timberwolves won as far as potential. Wiggins could be a perennial All-Star, Anthony Bennett has lost about 25 pounds and don’t forget he’s was just a number one pick in the draft in 2013. So, Minnesota has the last two number one picks in the draft combined with their own lottery picks Zach Levine and Shabazz Muhammad and Gorgui Dieng. So far, Shabazz Muhammad has lost 15 pounds and let’s not forget about Thaddeus Young. He average about 17 and 9 for the 76ers and is the elder statesman at only 25 years old. Sure they had to give up a guy that averaged 26 and 12 but at the same time in Cleveland, Love will not average those numbers. He should average a double double but nothing close to those numbers. One situation to monitor is whether or not, Thaddeus stays beyond this year, if so Minnesota has established a young nucleus that can do damage especially on NBA 2K15. Flip Saunders will have his hands full but he has done this before when he had a young Kevin Garnett and Stephon Marbury so why not try it again. At least you addressed the long term future of the team.
Another example of me using the term loser loosely would be when talking about the Chicago Bulls. I say Chicago is a loser only because they failed to land a big time free agent such as Carmelo Anthony or Kevin Love. But in order to do that they would have to gut their roster and their identity which Coach Thibs has worked hard to cultivate. So instead they signed Pau Gasol, draft Dougie McBuckets and bring over Nikola Mirotic. Also, there is a former MVP you may heard of him; Derrick Rose will come back this year. Imagine a lineup of Rose, Butler, McBuckets, Gibson, Noah and plenty of shooters to surround the number one defensive team in the NBA. To be quite honest, I have Chicago coming out of the East and unless another team goes on a remarkable run, I envision a collision course between Cleveland and Chicago for Eastern Conference supremacy. Sure Love or Anthony would have been a splash that only a water park would normally provide but their well is far from dry so let the clashes begin.
Dion Waiters is a young ballplayer that desires the ball at all times. Good luck with you getting the ball now Dion because he is now the 4th member of the Cavs. Will he turn into the lost Beatle that no one can ever name? Will his role diminish? I wonder if Philly tried to acquire him but Cleveland said no. He now has to contend for minutes with new additions of Mike Miller and James Jones and possibly the man known as Jesus Shuttlesworth. Will he feel the same if his shots get cut in half but a banner is being lifted up to the rafters? Only time will tell.
Flip Saunders will have the arduous task to trying to team this team around. This will take longer than a visit to the DMV on your day off but this is a youth movement that can beneficial with respect to potential and rookie contracts which can expedite the process of financial flexibility to possibly bring in a free agent. Speaking of financial flexibility, Cleveland has abandoned any chances of flexibility after this deal with Kyrie making about 18 million a year, LeBron making 21 this year and Love will be making 24 for the next 5 years.
Philadelphia 76ers has been in a league of their own longer than the Tom Hanks movie. They have plenty of money but refuse to spend it. They gather first round picks like bricks of coke just to stash it for another time. They use lottery picks on injured players and international prospects. They are on the rebuilding track of Van Wilder. But if you are going to stay committed to this plan kudos must go to Sam Hinkie, the General Manager of the 76ers Philadelphia is in the midst of a massive rebuilding operation, and trading Young was a part of the master plan. Young is likely better than anyone you’d acquire with a mid-to-late first-round pick. That’s not to say his trade value was any higher than this, but this year he’s owed $9.4 million this coming season and has a $10 million player option in 2015-2016. Once again this is Philadelphia saving money that they will not use. Mbah a Moute will do exactly what head coach Brett Brown wants on defense, and he’s known Joel Embiid since their days in Cameroon which could have some impact or it could a worthless tidbit of information. Shved has a better chance of blossoming in Brown’s up-tempo system than just about everywhere else, but he didn’t have much success in Minnesota so will a cheesesteak from Ishkabibbles change his mindset. The plan is very obviously to be good later, not now.
Only time will tell who the real winner of this trade but all these players have gone from a meal plan to a meal ticket so they are all winners.