It’s still early, but so far our readers remain unswayed by LeBron James‘ assertion that he’s in Cleveland for the long haul, as less than 30 percent of our readers believe that the Cavaliers are the rightful favorites for the 2014/15 NBA season. Of course, we still have more than two weeks until the Kevin Love acquisition becomes official. With the framework of a deal in place, however, we can expect more behind-the-scenes details to trickle out as we wait it out.
Brian Windhorst and Marc Stein of ESPN, citing a variety of league sources, get us started with their version of the anatomy of this unique deal-to-be:
- James had been optimistic of the Cavs’ chances of landing Love, his former teammate with USA basketball, since the moment he signed with Cleveland.
- The Wolves granted the Cavs permission to speak to Love in July during trade negotiations. James and Love have also spoken multiple times over the last month about the possibility of playing together long term. As the report points out, offseason conversations between players are not regulated by the league like other anti-tampering measures.
- While Love could technically exercise his $16.7MM player option for 2015/16 as part of the trade, the UCLA product remains adamant that he wants to hit free agency next summer to maximize his next contract rather than sign an extension, regardless of the team offering it.
- As we noted earlier, Cleveland’s refusal to include Andrew Wiggins in a deal for Love began to evaporate once the team got feedback from discussions between Love and the newly signed James. Ultimately, it was James’ belief that he could convince Love to stay in Cleveland that softened the Cavs’ stance against including Wiggins in the deal.
- The framework for the deal was agreed upon shortly after Wiggins was put on the table, with owners Dan Gilbert and Glen Taylor along with front office execs David Griffin and Flip Saunders all involved in the discussions.
- It appears Love is steadfast in his desire to receive a free agent payday. But even if he wasn’t, any agreement on an extension made in principal before the deal is official could result in the league blocking the trade and punishing both teams.