When LeBron James announced he would return to the Cavaliers, it set off a wave of joy through Cleveland. But some of that joy turned into anxiety, when reports emerged that James had agreed to a contract of just two years’ length and, in fact, could opt out after one season. That short of a deal was widely interpreted as an opportunity for LeBron to re-sign with the Cavs at a higher annual rate in 2016, rather than a chance for him to bolt for yet another team. But the fact remains that James, much like he did in 2010, could wind up deciding there’s just not enough help around him in Cleveland to add to his collection of titles.
Which is where a rumored trade with Minnesota for Kevin Love comes in. The Ohio News-Herald, citing a “league source,” reported today that the Cavs are now willing to include Andrew Wiggins in trade talks. The team, which drafted Wiggins No. 1 overall in June, had previously been thought to be resistant to that idea, but it may have concluded that the talented rookie represented the best way to pry Love away from the Timberwolves. And as the News-Herald story puts it:
A source said James wants the 6-10, 250-pound Love on the roster.
And, what James wants, he normally gets.
Indeed. And the reason why is simple: the Cavs have a bounty of young talent, but experienced talent is what wins NBA titles. At 29, James figures to have several years left as a top player, but that doesn’t mean he wants to wait several years for Wiggins, or his teammate and 2013 No. 1 overall pick, Anthony Bennett, to mature into an all-star caliber performer. As it is, James will be relying on the skills of point guard Kyrie Irving, who is all of 22, and (if he’s not included in a trade) power forward Tristan Thompson, who is 23.
Love is a proven top-flight player and is only 25 years old himself, so he figures to be an all-star for years to come. He only has a year left on his contract, but he wants out of Minnesota, and one would have to think that as long as James is in Cleveland, Love would want to be there, as well.
A package of Wiggins, Bennett and a future first-round pick (or two) in exchange for Love would have to be extremely enticing to Minnesota. However, the Warriors are reportedly mulling a blockbuster deal of their own for the Timberwolves’ star, one that Minnesota could decide is preferable.
Wiggins has only begun to scratch the surface of his intriguing talent. But Cleveland may have to make up its mind very quickly on how much it is willing to sacrifice to get Love. If that means a better shot at winning an NBA title in the next couple of years, and keeping James around for much longer than that, then it’s a trade the Cavs have to make.