How a Kevin Love Trade Could Fast Track the Cleveland Cavaliers’ Growth

Nov 13, 2013; Minneapolis, MN, USA; Minnesota Timberwolves power forward Kevin Love (42) and Cleveland Cavaliers point guard Kyrie Irving (2) hug before the tip off at Target Center. Mandatory Credit: Brad Rempel-USA TODAY Sports

With the big pieces of free agency falling into place, much of the attention of this summer’s player movement era turns to Kevin Love’s situation in the Minnesota Timberwolves. Previously, the Warriors had made overtures for Love but their refusal to include Klay Thompson in the deal ceased talks altogether. The Cavaliers, an organization with their sights set on the postseason, have also been inquiring about Love as well, but also reluctant to include their highest valued assets.

For the Timberwolves, this presents a problem. And unless Flip Saunders is going to say, “I understand no one wants to part with their highly valued assets, so we’ll just take what we can get,” someone is going to have to step up or a third team is going to have to be brought in. For the Cavaliers and Warriors, it makes sense despite both teams desiring the disenchanted Minnesota forward. The Warriors don’t want to pay Thompson what he will demand when the time comes. And the Cavaliers don’t want to aggravate LeBron James as Pat Riley did in Miami with the Joel Anthony trade and Mike Miller amnesty by dealing  someone like Tristan Thompson, who shares the same agent as James. 

But seriously, this is Kevin Love we’re talking about. This doesn’t have to be like the time they could’ve had prime Amare Stoudemire for JJ freaking Hickson. It doesn’t have to be this way again. I get the Paul-Lebron connection, but they have a chance to add a good veteran big, which they could use, so what’s someone like Tristan Thompson to them? Thompson will improve, but will he out-perform what Love does in the next two years or more? Probably not. Or at least not enough to cause too much remorse.

Otherwise they’re a pretty young team for a franchise with title aspirations in the next couple years, with Andrew Wiggins being a big variable here. Cleveland has been steadfast in their refusal to part with Wiggins in a move, which is also a little perplexing for a team looking to win-now as Wiggins is at least two or three years from taking a major leap. The argument for not trading him for Love is that Wiggins could be this, or Wiggins could be that, but we ultimately have no idea. In James’ first stint with the team, the Cavaliers were too hung up on the potential of Hickson to move him for a player who could have put them over the top, and that sparked a series of events that have ultimately led to where we are today. Point being, we know what Love is and what he will be for the next 5-7 years. As for Wiggins? We don’t have the faintest idea. This feeling would be different if the Cavs were still rebuilding, but with James and Kyrie Irving in tow, the goal is to get back to the playoffs– a stance owner Dan Gilbert has held for four years now.

The concern over whether or not Love would re-sign appears to have faded, too. It appears that Love has done a 180, or at least a 120, on Cleveland and is said to be “intrigued” and later “still intrigued” by the Cavaliers. With Love having an opt-in for 2016 like James, now would be the perfect time to pull the trigger. Should James and Love opt-in for 2016, Cleveland could pair the duo with Irving,put a roster around them, and see that vision actualized. Then in two years, Cleveland would have the inside track on retaining both Love and James while having flexibility to make continued improvements under the next CBA. The Cavaliers benefit from this, and so do the stars, it’s unusual.

Now, do you necessarily need Wiggins with a James-Love-Irving core? Probably not. Are you going to be able to bring Love into the fold without including Wiggins? Probably not. Besides, it’s not as if K. Thompson, T. Thompson, and Wiggins will fully replace Love in Minnesota, but it’s an improvement on the offers we’ve heard so far. The incentive for Cleveland is obvious– give James the reliable, talented veteran the roster is currently missing to ensure that you accomplish all that you can in those two years. As for the Warriors, losing Thompson for a grab bag of likely mediocre first  round picks is a little unsettling, but they can avoid paying someone more than they want to.

Most of all, if neither the Warriors or Cavaliers want to pay the premium for Love themselves, this is a great way to spread the hit around, and benefit each other. Of course, someone gets left out of Love, but that’s the way it has to be. Though this is currently just a rumor, a three team deal could make sense for all parties involved.

Derek James

In addition to writing for Hardwood Paroxysm, Derek James covers the Minnesota Timberwolves for 1500ESPN in Minneapolis. Derek is also a co-editor for SB Nation's At the Hive-- the best Charlotte Hornets blog around. He often finds himself writing too many words on irrelevant players. Unrelated to LeBron James, but taught him everything he knows.

  • earl carroll

    without love Cleveland will not make it past 2nd round in the east….Cleveland lost over 20 games by more than 7 last year and as good as LeBron is he can’t overcome that by himself.

    • nick shaker

      they were 17-16 in their last 33 games of the season after they made some much needed changes. Part of their poor record was due to a horrible start they could not overcome. Mid-December to Mid-January was brutal.

      Love will obviously make them a lot better quicker, but I would like to see what we have in Wiggins, Dion, Tristan, and AB, before we give away all of these youngsters. We saw in the finals what happens to a team with a Big 3 and no bench.

      • Mark Van Dorp

        The difference is the big three that Cleveland would have is younger and better than the one Miami had. Kyrie is better than wade, and love is way better than bosh.

      • earl carroll

        so you would rather have big 2 than big 3. and love is barely number 2 of the 3 , love is a lot better rebounder than LeBron and better 3 point shooter. I would not be surprised if loves numbers are better than lebrons. he will certainly have more double doubles.

  • semicorrect

    The idea that Cleveland refused to trade JJ Hickson to land Amare Stoudemire is persistent. It’s also false. http://www.morningjournal.com/general-news/20120128/nba-insider-suns-vetoed-stoudemire-trade

  • nick shaker

    “but with James and Kyrie Irving in tow, the goal is to get back to the playoffs”

    wait, do you think the Cavs need Kevin Love to make the playoffs!??? I am pretty sure they are a playoff team right now, sans Kevin Love, and in-fact are probably the favorites to win the Eastern Conference.

    • earl carroll

      they are not even close to favorites without love and have NO chance against okc,san Antonio, or clippers without love. timberwolves would have been 2nd in east and not good enough to make playoffs in west,,

  • cyril ebarvia

    kyrie is btter than wade LOL! that’s true if you only talk about scoring but other basketball skill? wade wins 😀

  • Bruno

    I don’t know if the potential of what Wiggins can be is on par with what the potential had been for what Hickson could be. Obviously he’s still an unknown, but that ceiling is significantly higher than Hickson’s was.