If you have not yet heard by now, the Minnesota Timberwolves and the Cleveland Cavaliers are rumored to be on the verge of making a landscape changing trade.
Sources: Cavs have agreement for Kevin Love, including long-term contract commitment. Wiggins, Bennett, pick to Minn. http://t.co/r2KmO5owwY— Adrian Wojnarowski (@WojYahooNBA) August 7, 2014
In Kevin Love deal, Cavs likely to send Wolves the 2015 protected first-rounder it owns via Miami, league sources tell Yahoo Sports.— Adrian Wojnarowski (@WojYahooNBA) August 7, 2014
Yep. So Minny gets Andrew Wiggins, Anthony Bennett, and a protected 2015 1st rounder. And The Cavs get Kevin Love. By the traditional point of view the team that gets the best player in the trade wins, and while this deal will not be made official until August 23rd, it would appear as thought the Cavs are getting the best player . . . for now.
The big piece of this move is that Love will "somehow" agree to resign with Cleveland, a team that was once burned by this type of agreement before with Carlos Boozer. Sources indicate that this time that will not happen. (That said, how many of us thought LeBron James would be going back to Cleveland a year ago? Anything can and does happen in the NBA.)
Our guys over at CanisHoopus had this to say:
The core of [Ricky Rubio], Zach LaVine, Wiggins, and Bennett is one that would certainly take time to develop. Even swapping Bennett for [Thaddeus Young] wouldn't secure a playoff spot in the ultra-competitive Western Conference. The prospect of being competitive despite losing the loss of a perennial superstar is deceptively exciting, because even with Love the Wolves weren't able to crack postseason.
...It's fair to assume most of us just wanted this saga to end-- this is an opportunity to hit the reset button and rebuild again. Now, there's at least some closure. Can the aforementioned Rubio-LaVine-Wiggins core help the Timberwolves reach the NBA Finals for the first time in franchise history, someday? Will this trio help recruit a big name free-agent seeking a championship to the frozen tundra of Minneapolis? These are questions that won't be answered for awhile.
Last year, the Wolves ranked 27th in attendance. Perhaps the young, talented, and athletic group can bring more fans to Target Center next season, creating a solid foundation to build from the ground up as Flip Saunders continues his mission of implementing the culture change he talks about so often.
- ZacharyBD on Aug 7 2014, 10:47a
Yes, at least the fans know that if you are trading away an All-NBA player that you need to embrace a rebuild. (As opposed to the "Emperor's new clothes" line we got from the Jazz brass after trading away Deron Williams for Devin Harris, a rookie, and two future draft picks -- you don't contend today when the majority of your trade haul are people who aren't even 18 years old yet at the time of the trade.)
On the opposite side of the spectrum, the people at Fear The Sword recognize exactly what this means for their squad:
While it's been reported in the past that the Cavaliers and Timberwolves had some sort of agreement in place to trade Andrew Wiggins, Anthony Bennett and a draft pick for Kevin Love, the news that Love has committed to re-sign in Cleveland is a massive development.
Love is one of the most talented players in the league and at 25 years old he hasn't even reached his prime yet. The opportunity to add a young star to the duo of Kyrie Irving and LeBron James while keeping quality prospects like Dion Waiters and Tristan Thompson was likely too tempting of a proposition for David Griffin to turn down.
While there will be a fair bit of disappointment surrounding the departure of Wiggins, this is a move that makes the Cavaliers immediately a contender, and keeps the window open for a very long time.
- Justin Rowan on Aug 7 2014, 9:48a
The time to win is now, especially with the whole contract thingy LeBron has never has a team come together so quickly, and need to establish itself as soon as possible. (The Brooklyn Nets of last season come a close second.)
But what does this mean for the Utah Jazz and the rest of the North West Division (nay, the Western Conference)? Well . . .
1. Oklahoma City Thunder
OKC is the only contender right now in the division, and they look to remain that after an off-season where they did not need to do much, but still added superb outside shooting in Anthony Morrow. Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook and Serge Ibaka are all still there and with KD calling it a summer with USA Basketball they will be rested and refocused. The Wolves were not a risk to challenge them even with Kevin Love. And they are no where near that if this trade goes through. The one team that is most unaffected seems to be the Thunder, as they are in an elite level and are not concerned with what happens to lotto teams right now.
2. Portland Trail Blazers
Ripcity signed Chris Kaman and Steve Blake to help stabilize their depth, something they thought they did last season with the addition of Robin Lopez, Mo Williams, and Earl Watson. They are still a Western Conference playoff team powered by LaMarcus Aldridge, Damian Lillard, and glue guys like Nicolas Batum. No Love in the West may help LMA get more votes for the All-Star game, but he's been an All-star for years now. He just may now get a chance to start. I expect the Blazers to be in the hunt for a Top 4 seed in the West for most of the seasons. But you know, Blazers gotta blaze. So I can't guarantee they'll get homecourt in the first round. A weaker Minnesota gives them a few more wins this year, just from that; however, most of the other playoff teams will capitalize on this as well.
3. Denver Nuggets
Denver did not make the playoffs last year in the competitive Western Conference, but did end up with Gary Harris in the draft for their efforts. Harris, paired up with Arron Afflalo (he's back), Nate Robinson, and Ty Lawson gives Denver a speedy, guard based attack, which is something they always seemed to have. Last season Denver finished behind the Wolves, but I do not think that this is what's going to happen this year. The difference was 4.0 games, and I think a huge part of that margin was Kevin Love. I would not be surprised to see an 8 game change here as the Nuggets improve and Minny has not.
4. Minnesota Timberwolves
Clearly the team most affected by this trade are the Wolves. But that's not the only crazy thing to happen to them. Rick Adelman retired, and Flip Saunders became the head coach again. He added Sam Mitchell and Sidney Lowe to his staff. These are not great coaches. And specifically poor coaches for player development. Flip is credited for Kevin Garnett, but I don't think many coaches would have messed that up. All the other lotto picks after Garnett didn't become anything though, so which is the larger, and more accurate, sample size? The Wolves also have a poor retention rate of the few roses that grow in their weed filled garden. They traded Kevin Garnett to the Boston Celtics for a very young Al Jefferson and stuff. Then they traded Al Jefferson away for junk, in order to make more room for Kevin Love. And now, welll, they are trading Kevin Love away. That said, they did just sign Mo Williams. So, you know, that's awesome.
They do have talent, with Nikola Pekovic, Kevin Martin, Corey Brewer, Ricky Rubio, J.J. Barea, #MOLO, Ronny Turiaf, Gorgui Dieng, Shabazz Muhammad, and of course, Wiggins, LaVine, and Bennett. But are they just spinning their wheels by trying to compete in the West with that roster? Or re-creating the head-on collision with mediocrity that the Jazz did after trading D-Will?
Will Minny be better today than they would be if they were to keep Kevin Love? No. Will Minny be better in the future compared to a possible future based on what's happening with Kevin Love? Most likely, yes. Are they going to make the playoffs this year? No.
Will they be "playoff competitive" as the Jazz brass like to tease? Maybe.
Are Wolves fans going to be happy with LaVine and Wiggins coming off the bench behind Brewer, K-Mart, Mo, and JJ? Absolutely not. Thank God their coaches love vets. Oh wait, that's the opposite.
5. Utah Jazz
Objectively the Jazz are still behind Minny. They have more talent before and after this trade. We love our young guys and hope to see a brand new system in place. But rookie coach Quin Snyder isn't going to be able to spin yarn into gold over night. In three seasons a team of Gordon Hayward, Derrick Favors, Enes Kanter, Alec Burks, Trey Burke, Rudy Gobert, Ian Clark, Dante Exum, and Rodney Hood should be better than the Wolves. Just not today.
The big take-away here is that it's going to be REALLY hard for Exum to get any Western Conference Rookie of the Month awards with Wiggins in the same conference now. Trey Burke was able to walk away with three last year, and still finished a distant third in ROY voting. Wiggins, who is fantastic, is going to be killing teams if his coaches let him.
The West, in General:
Minny is no longer in absurd "win-now" mode, which suits their franchise well. The West has another lotto team lock as well, while there should be some separation between the Memphis Grizzlies / Dallas Mavericks / Phoenix Suns from the Wolves. Or at least, even more than before. I would not be surprised to see the New Orleans Hornets and Denver Nuggets surpass Minny either, as the Wolves creep down a little bit closer than they'd want to to the Sacramento Kings.
Of course, I could be really wrong, and they have a Phoenix like rise this year. I just don't think that's where the franchise is heading right now. If you trade away an All-NBA player and the best you get back for him is a rookie and future picks then you shouldn't try to contend right now. Take it from us, the Utah Jazz. We've been there. And we're finally waking up from a four year mourning period of misplaced team goals.