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Cavs Officially Acquire Kevin Love

The Cavaliers have officially acquired Kevin Love in a three-team deal that’s the blockbuster trade of the summer, the Wolves announced. The Wolves receive Andrew Wiggins and Anthony Bennett from Cleveland and Thaddeus Young from the Sixers as part of the deal, while Philadelphia comes away with Luc Mbah a Moute and Alexey Shved from Minnesota and the Heat’s 2015 first-round pick from Cleveland. The agreement has reportedly been in place for weeks, but the inclusion of Wiggins kept it from becoming official until today. That’s because Wiggins, this year’s No. 1 overall draft pick, couldn’t be traded within 30 days after the Cavs signed him to his rookie scale contract on July 24th.

NBA: Sacramento Kings at Minnesota TimberwolvesLove is the only asset going Cleveland’s way in the deal, but the Second-Team All-NBA power forward is the centerpiece of the trade. He joins LeBron James as the marquee additions for Cleveland in a landmark offseason, one that’s left them the favorites to win the Eastern Conference championship after four straight seasons outside the playoffs. Love is expected to opt out of his contract next summer after making more than $15.7MM this season, but the Cavs will have his Bird Rights and are heavy favorites to re-sign him, just as they are with James, who also possesses a player option for 2015/16. Love’s ability to hit free agency in 2015 helped precipitate the trade, as he’s made it clear that he had no intention of staying with Minnesota beyond the coming season.

The Warriors, Bulls, Celtics, Nuggets, Lakers, Kings, Knicks, Rockets, Wizards and Suns have all been linked to Love in various reports at one point or another since mid-May, when the Wolves ramped up their efforts to trade him. It appeared even before James decided to sign with Cleveland that Love would like to join the Cavs if it meant he could play with James, and James reportedly reached out to Love to reciprocate his interest in becoming teammates. The Warriors appeared to come closest to beating out Cleveland for Love, but Golden State’s unwillingness to include Klay Thompson left the sides at a stalemate, particularly once the Cavs relented to Minnesota’s insistence that Wiggins be part of any deal that would ship Love to Cleveland.

Still, others made strong pushes, including the Celtics, particularly in the wake of Love’s weekend visit to Boston around the beginning of June, but the Wolves showed disinterest in dealing with the C’s. The Suns reportedly made a call Friday to see if Minnesota would send Love their way in a sign-and-trade arrangement involving Eric Bledsoe, but the Wolves were unmoved.

Wiggins is the marquee attraction for Minnesota, and he joins Chris Webber as the only No. 1 overall picks since the merger to change teams before playing a single regular season game for the franchises that drafted them. Wiggins had a somewhat disappointing season at Kansas after having been the consensus favorite a year ago to become the top pick, creating doubt that lingered almost until the draft began about whether he, fellow Jayhawk Joel Embiid, or Jabari Parker would go No. 1 overall. Still, Wiggins possesses superstar potential, some of which he put on display in the summer league last month, when he showed off his athleticism as part of Cleveland’s squad.

There were conflicting reports about whether Bennett would join Wiggins in heading to Minnesota or be rerouted to Philadelphia, but it became clear on Thursday that Bennett would become a Timberwolf. Bennett’s performance as a rookie was thoroughly underwhelming and he’ll have a tough time living up to having been the No. 1 overall pick in 2013. Still, there’s hope that he can become a key component on a winning team after having been widely projected as a mid-lottery selection before the Cavs surprisingly took him with the top pick.

The Wolves have reportedly been enamored with Young for a while, and they’ll have a chance to plug him into the starting lineup as Love’s replacement at power forward for at least one season. Young, like Love, can opt out of his contract and become a free agent next summer, but he probably wouldn’t draw nearly as many suitors, and he’s never expressed unwillingness to play in Minnesota. Young will make more than $9.4MM this season, and if he opts in, he’ll receive almost $10MM in 2015/16.

The Sixers, having shed other well-paid veterans in an aggressive rebuilding effort over the past 15 months or so, had reportedly sought a future first-round pick for Young in advance of the trade deadline in February, so this deal facilitates that apparent desire. The Heat’s 2015 first-round pick that’s coming from the Cavs is protected for the top 10 picks the next two years, but it would become unprotected for 2017, according to RealGM. In a coincidental twist, the Heat originally traded that pick to Cleveland in the sign-and-trade that brought LeBron to Miami in 2010.

Philadelphia also reaps Mbah a Moute, who’s already close with Embiid, whom the Sixers drafted third overall in June. Mbah a Moute has mentored Embiid, a fellow native of Cameroon. Mbah a Moute is on the books at nearly $4.4MM for the upcoming season, but he, like Shved, who’ll make nearly $3.3MM, is on an expiring contract, ensuring the Sixers won’t be stuck with their salaries past next summer. That wouldn’t have been the case with Young, who might have opted in.

The Wolves had sought to unload Mbah a Moute, Shved, as well as J.J. Barea, all of whom are on fairly player-friendly deals. Minnesota can create a trade exception worth $4,644,503 as part of the transaction, with the figure equivalent to the difference between Love’s salary and the combined salaries of Wiggins and Bennett. The trade appears to leave the Wolves with a haul that’s about as impressive as possible for a team that’s surrendering the only established superstar in the deal, and most Hoops Rumors readers gave the team high marks for the package it’s receiving.

The move drops Cleveland’s roster count by one, to 17, while the Sixers net one more player to reach a total of 15. Still, Philadelphia is carrying only seven players on fully guaranteed contracts, fewer than every other team in the league. Minnesota remains at 15 players, all of whom have fully guaranteed deals, meaning the Wolves are no closer to creating an opening for second-round pick Glenn Robinson III, as they’ve hoped to do, or finding a spot for Dante Cunningham, with whom talks have picked up.

Photo courtesy USA Today Sports Images. Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! Sports originally reported that Cleveland and Minnesota had an agreement in principle. Mark Perner of the Philadelphia Daily News wrote of the Sixers’ involvement in the swap and Jerry Zgoda of the Star Tribune nailed down the final structure of the trade. Wojnarowski also noted Minnesota’s interest in unloading Mbah a Moute, Shved and Barea. Ken Berger of, Darren Wolfson of 1500 ESPN Twin Cities (Twitter links), Ryan Wolstat of the Toronto Sun (Twitter links), Dan Barreiro of KFAN Sports Radio (Twitter link) and Jon Krawczynski of The Associated Press (Twitter link) provided additional detail.

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20 thoughts on “Cavs Officially Acquire Kevin Love

  1. i like the wolves in this deal they get a decent vet and 2 young players to help rebuild. wolves will be a young team but a fun team to watch. sixers get a decent defender and another first to help them rebuild and cavs just get love which i dont know how that will play out

  2. Manchershaw Engineer

    Considering the stars wouldn’t align to send Love to Cleveland any other way, I’m surprised this is all they had to give up (Wiggins, a mostly worthless end of round draft pick, and a busted prospect with a high salary). Wiggins was obviously the key (Thad’s almost assuredly bolting as Minnesota’s not competing), but the Wolves are staking a lot on him becoming a superstar because they could have gotten better overall deals pretty much anywhere else. If he doesn’t become a superstar, they’ve got nothing now and nothing in the future.

    Philadelphia just needs to be contracted.

    • Charlie Adams

      naturally they’re investing a lot into Wiggins, but getting one of the best prospects in recent memory along with Bennett, Young, and a trade exception is a ridiculous return. especially considering they were able to shed Luc and Alexey’s contracts as well. i think this trade is a great move for all three sides, really.

    • Sky14

      Not sure what better deals they could have had (the other reported offers were awful) but it’s a pretty good deal for the Wolves. Wiggins was the best prospect in one of the most anticipated drafts in recent memory. No team in contention for Love could offer a young player of his caliber. Bennett had a disappointing rookie season but still has plenty of upside considering his age (21) and talent. Young provides a decent veteran at pf to fill in while Bennett develops.

    • Zak Arn

      Deals that might have been…
      Bulls – Taj Gibson (29, might be a 15 & 8 player) & Mirotic & McDermott (Kover to Miller upside, or he’s Adam Morrison)

      Suns – Bledsoe (knee surgery babyBron or babyBynum?) and ….

      Knicks – Stoudemire (23 MM), Hardaway (Jordan Crawford type chucker), and Shumpert

      GS – Lee (31 – 2/ 32 MM), Barnes (nice role player), mid-late 1st rounder

      Which one of these was better than Cavs/Sixers – Wiggins (OJ Mayoish to McGrady upside, or he’s a so-so shooter that can d-up), Thad Young (17 & 6 last year), Bennett (filler)

      • guccci7383

        didnt the nuggets have an offer on the table also..cant remember what it was.
        someone refresh my memory

        • Zak Arn

          before the draft, faried & chandler + afflalo apparently, everything I listed was post draft.

      • Manchershaw Engineer

        Your “negatives” on Gibson, McDermott, and Bledsoe are worst case very unlikely scenarios. I mean, I could say Wiggins will be out of the league in a year and I’d have just as much a chance as that happening. At the end of the day Taj Gibson is a very good offensive player and probably the best or second best defender at the four in the NBA. Mirotic is about as much a wild card as Wiggins is; not as athletic, but a much better shooter and not as raw. McDermott might already shoot better than all three of the players you named as comparable. And Bledsoe…let’s not act like he’s Derrick Rose. He missed a couple months to have torn cartilage repaired. Not exactly a deal breaker.

        Look…I’m not saying getting Wiggins was the wrong call. I’m saying getting only Wiggins (which they essentially did, Thad is not staying past this year) and taking on dead weight salary is doing themselves a disservice compared to what they should have gotten from Cleveland. Cleveland HAD to trade for Love to get him. The ball was in Minnesota’s court, and they threw it back to Lebron.

        • Andre Smith

          McDermott is possibly already better than a guy who shot 48% from the field, 46% from the 3pt line and 82% FT? Aren’t you being a little bit loose with your projections?

          Obviously, any rookie can be a bust but the fact that he was a projected lottery pick means ppl are very high on him (as opposed to Bennett who was a surprise to most).

          • Manchershaw Engineer

            I’m pretty high on him, he can really shoot it. We won’t really know until he plays NBA games, but I wouldn’t be surprised if he shoots it better than that.

        • Zak Arn

          I already alluded to the fact that Wiggins might be no more than a defensive player.
          Gibson is a very good role player, but how much more are you expecting him to expand off of last season? He’s already 29.
          Neither Mirotic and McDermott have the ceiling of Andrew Wiggins
          Bledsoe is a guy that relies on athleticism and he’s injury prone, that’s kind of a deal breaker.

          They only Had to make the move in the sense that they’d waste a year of LBJ if they didn’t. They could have signed him next year, just would have taken some shrewd moves to do so.

          • Manchershaw Engineer

            I view Gibson as a cusp player. I don’t believe he’s going to be a superstar, but he’s among the top 5-8 players at his position in the league. He’s already better than a role player. Probably won’t improve much more, but he’s a really good two way player. There’s a surprising dearth of those at PF in the NBA right now.

            I’d agree on the ceiling of Mirotic and McDermott, but both are already pretty developed. And while Mirotic’s ceiling is lower, I think he’s also a better bet to actually reach his ceiling.

            I don’t really know about Wiggins either. I see the flashes, but he really can’t shoot. He might end up being Jimmy Butler, who’s a really good player and an excellent defender, but not a star.

    • Andre Smith

      Other than Klay Thompson, who wasn’t being offered up, I don’t see one player that has the upside or was a current NBA all-star, that was being offered in return. Also, Bennett has only played 1 year so I;’m not sure how he can be classified as a “bust”. Also, $5 mil is hardly a “high salary”.

      • guccci7383

        i would have taken bledsoe from the suns.. not sold on rubio who wants a max contract.. rather give it to bledsoe. injuries and all

        • Andre Smith

          I think if you’re the Wolves you have to look at this in terms of “controllable low cost assets”, They can get more of those by trading Love for Wiggins and extra vs trading for Bledsoe and then trying to move Rubio.

          Building their future WITH Rubio and Wiggins as the foundation is not a bad thing.

          I doubt they will compete this year but allowing a nuclues of Wiggins, Rubio, Bennett and LaVine to gel and then look towards the next years draft with their own pick and the Heats pick and a guy like Young to deal for perhaps another asset is a good plan.

  3. guccci7383

    i think the question is what can they get for young at the deadline when contenders come calling… hes not gonna resign so what could they flip him and get in return.. i bet they could get another 1st rounder

    • Andre Smith

      That’s what I saw him as…..a trade chip. Not sure how deep the draft is but they might be able to snatch someone’s #1 if it’s a contender. It would be a late round pick but still has value.

      • Zak Arn

        Draft looks kinda similar to this year’s, Okafor C, Mudiay G (hype), and Towns PF/C.

  4. Andre Smith

    As a Cleveland sports fan it’s understood that anything can go wrong but I applaud the Cavs ownership for their willingness to do what they could to make this the best team possible. It’s the same attitude he’s always had but before (LBJ 1.0 ) major stars in their prime simply didn’t want to come to Cleveland. It wasn’t for a lack of trying or unwillingness to spend, evident by the fact that the caps were way over the camp when Lebron James left for Miami.

    Very interested to see how they can gel but a starting 5 of LBJ, Love, Irving, Waiters and Varejao is exciting.

    A bench of Marion, Miller, Jones and Thompson is solid but would like them to see if they can upgrade the PG and C position. Not sure if there’s much they can do at this point however.

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