Grade the trade: The Kevin Love-Andrew Wiggins blockbuster
The long-discussed deal sending Kevin Love to Cleveland and two No. 1 overall draft picks to Minnesota is complete.
Kevin Love is no longer a member of the Minnesota Timberwolves. He's been with the team for his entire six-year career, but he's had his foot out the door for months. The trade, which sent him to the Cleveland Cavaliers, finally became official on Saturday. Let's look at how each team fared in the blockbuster trade that sent two Canadian No. 1 overall picks to Minnesota and a first-round draft pick to Philly.
Cleveland Cavaliers receive Kevin Love
The Cavs got the best player in the trade, and for as much potential as Andrew Wiggins and Anthony Bennett have, Love will likely remain the best player in the trade. He's a legitimate superstar who remains underrated in some circles because he's had horrible luck with teammates and untimely injuries. As CBSSports.com's Matt Moore explained, it's unfair to say that Love's lack of playoff experience means he just isn't that good.
Love is that good. He's really, really, ridiculously good. I'd say he's top-five, maybe even top-four in the league, and his value will be even more obvious on a team like the Cavs. No one rebounds and shoots 3s like him, no one throws outlet passes like him. Most important, almost no one as talented has his basketball IQ, which is what LeBron James mentioned as the main reason he'd be excited about this. David Blatt's offense is going to be a thing of beauty with Love in the fold.
While it might take some time for the team as a whole to jell, Love and James should have chemistry on the court right from the beginning. Unlike when James first teamed up with Dwyane Wade in Miami four years ago, Cleveland's two best players shouldn't get in each other's way. When James, or Kyrie Irving or Dion Waiters for that matter, drives to the basket, there won't be two big men waiting there. When Love gets the ball in the post, he will have much more room to operate than ever before. Some more rim protection will need to be added at some point down the line, but that would've been the case anyway.
The Cavs were contenders in the East before the trade. Now they should be the favorites.
Minnesota Timberwolves receive Andrew Wiggins, Anthony Bennett, Thaddeus Young, $6.3 million trade exception
No one wants to trade away a superstar, and that's what Minnesota president and head coach Flip Saunders had to do. Love had enough of carrying lesser players and losing, and he would have left next summer in free agency if not moved before then. It happens. Heading into his prime, the Timberwolves had to try to find the best deal for the long-term future of the team. They did that.
Wiggins could one day become a franchise player. Flip Saunders said Saturday that he was No. 1 on his draft board, and there's good reason for that. He fits the profile of a modern-day NBA wing player, with absurd athleticism, tremendous defensive instincts and a willingness to play within a team environment. He's not the prototypical isolation scorer that used to define stars at his position, but that's fine, especially at this stage. The 19-year-old's dribbling and long-distance shooting need work, but a young Paul George is a great comparison. It's up to Wiggins and the Wolves to harness all that potential in the coming years.
The headliner in the deal is Wiggins, but Minnesota did well to acquire even more. Bennett was regarded highly as a prospect because guys that big are rarely that mobile or skilled. He has a chance to make an impact if he stays in shape and the Wolves give him the right environment to develop. Young, who will start in front of Bennett at power forward, should be a positive influence on him.
One minor quibble: If Young leaves after one season in Minnesota, choosing to send Miami's first-round pick to Philly for him might seem shortsighted. If he sticks around on a reasonable deal, though, he could be worth much more than what the Wolves gave up.
Oh, Sam Hinkie. The Sixers general manager just loves him some first-round picks. As he should. Philadelphia is in the midst of a massive rebuilding operation, and Young was not going to be a part of it. He was in trade rumors throughout last season, and it was surprising he lasted past the trade deadline.
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, though, considering his contract. The forward is owed $9.4 million this coming season and has a $10 million player option in 2015-2016. That's not the most appealing situation for most potential trade partners.
Mbah a Moute will do exactly what head coach Brett Brown wants on defense, and he's known Joel Embiid since he was just learning the game in Cameroon. It'll be nice to have him around. 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. The deal makes the Sixers even worse than they already were in the short-term, but that's just fine with Hinkie. The plan is very obviously to be good later, not now.
It was an anticlimactic end to the Thaddeus Young era after seven years in Philly, but the return is good enough. You just wonder if there might have been better offers for him last summer or at some point since.
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