In a move that surprises virtually no one, the trade between the Cavaliers and Timberwolves was finally agreed upon in principle yesterday. The trade can't be made official until 30 days after Wiggins signed, but barring him Jay Williamsing himself before that point, the Cavaliers will acquire Kevin Love.
The deal itself was obviously orchestrated as part of LeBron signing in Cleveland. It was no accident that he didn't talk to Andrew Wiggins or mention his name in his letter.
Kudos to the Timberwolves for being patient and not taking a draft day offer from Chicago. I'll still smack them a bit for being so pumped up about Klay Thompson and smack the Golden State Warriors a bit for that too, but who knows what would have happened if Klay Thompson was on the table. This deal, to me, still trumps that one.
The Timberwolves land Andrew Wiggins, Anthony Bennett, and a 2015 1st rounder. I'm assuming that Bennett (despite his #1 pick status) actually brings negative value to the table and that the Cavs preferred to send him rather than sending Anderson Varejao. Still, the overall return is the best you're likely to get for an exiting star.
Especially one who's probably not a legit superstar despite superstar numbers. I think a legit superstar leads his team to the playoffs, and while I don't hold that against Kevin Love overall, I think it puts him in the star category and not the superstar category. The Timberwolves might not be loaded with awesome players, but they are hardly talentless either.
Either way, the move puts a Cleveland big three together of Kyrie Irving, LeBron James, and Kevin Love. They've signed Mike Miller, James Jones, and appear to be the favorites to land Ray Allen (if he doesn't retire) and Shawn Marion (though it hasn't happened yet, and he'd have to give up money so I am less certain about this one).
So when you take the big three and then look at the "next 5" which makes up your eight man rotation, the Cavs could potentially be putting out this:
LeBron, Love, Irving, Varejao, Waiters, Thompson, Marion, Miller with Jones/Allen still on the roster as well (or possibly moving up the food chain).
It wouldn't surprise me to see the Cavs look to move Waiters for a player with a bit more experience/stability as well, and they can probably find a pretty good match especially if they're willing to take on a little salary.
Talentwise? That roster is pretty stacked and isn't really lacking much in the depth department either. Unlike Miami, they have a couple young talented athletic guys to fill out the depth. Much like Miami, unless Thompson becomes an interior defensive force, they don't have much on the inside defensively.
Still, they're probably better than the Heat were on the glass and with interior defense for as long as Varejao can stay healthy. This really was a great move for LeBron in terms of finding a new talented team to land on. They'll have a Bulls like fear of injuries though as Varejao and Irving have both had difficulties staying healthy, and much of the rest of the roster is older guys.
So how will the Bulls match up against the Cavaliers now? Not particularly well I'm afraid. Pau Gasol is best suited to take advantage of where the Cavs are weak defensively, but I don't think at this point in his career he's a guy who's going to dominate them enough to make a difference, and the Cavs aren't nearly as weak inside as the Heat were.
Chicago will simply have to hope for better play through coaching/team effort which is a tall order, but it's always a tall order to beat the best player in the NBA. Ask anyone who went up against Jordan.
The Bulls will still have a shot, and not a bad shot, but their run as favorites? That ended yesterday.
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