According to reports, LeBron James wants the Cleveland Cavaliers to trade for Kevin Love, which would likely involve giving up No. 1 pick Andrew Wiggins.
If this trade does happen, would it be Wiggins-for-Love straight up?
“I don’t think there’s any way they do that,” The Big Lead NBA writer Jason McIntyre said on The Doug Gottlieb Show. “Financially, I don’t think the salaries match up, and I think Minnesota thinks they’re sitting on a gold mine. They’ve got a top-five player by almost any statistical measure, and he’s the best player at his position in the league. But (if) you give up Wiggins, (Dion) Waiters and a pick, you’re sacrificing youth, cap flexibility – because you’ve got to max out Kevin Love – and then you’re going to run into the same situation LeBron had in Miami: You’ve got three guys, you’ve got no bench and you’ve got all old guys who you need to contribute. And then what do you have? You’ve got nothing.”
Wait a minute, Doug Gottlieb interjected. Did you just say Kevin Love is a top-five player?
“Well, by a lot of statistical measures, (he is),” McIntyre said. “(He averaged) 26 and 12 (last year). I don’t necessarily think he’s a top-three player. I think he’s a top-five to 10 player. But we would agree he’s the top power forward, right? You wouldn’t take (LaMarcus) Aldridge over him, would you?”
Well, there’s Aldridge, there’s Blake Griffin, there’s Dirk Nowitzki and, depending on your perspective, there’s Carmelo Anthony.
The problem with Love, Gottlieb said, is that he’s putting up empty stats. He’s not averaging 26 and 12 for a title contender. He’s averaging 26 and 12 for a sub-.500 franchise.
“And look at what Bosh did,” McIntyre said. “They gave him a max contract. He was a 24-and-10 guy in Toronto. You know what he did this last year? Sixteen and 6. So you’re maxing out a guy to sacrifice his offense and average 16 points and six boards. I just feel like what’s the point of brining Kevin Love over? (And he’s) not as good defensively as Bosh.”
Let’s not forget that Wiggins, 19, Waiters, 22, and Anthony Bennett, 21, are all young.
“If you put he best player in the NBA around them, they’re all going to lift their game up,” McIntyre said. “Kyrie Irving is going to be getting wide-open three-pointers. This guy’s a shooter. I can’t believe people are saying Chicago could beat them in the East. We’re all banking on Derrick Rose suddenly returning to his MVP form. The guy’s had two massive knee surgeries. How do we know what he’s going to be?”
Regardless of how Rose fares next season, the Cavs have a tough decision to make: Do they sacrifice the future and go all-in for a championship in the next three or four years, or do they take a steady, conservative approach to ensure they’ll be in the mix for the next five or six years and beyond?
Both McIntyre and Gottlieb feel the conservative approach is the way to go.
“Why couldn’t Andrew Wiggins be something similar to a Kawhi Leonard?” McIntyre asked. “Other people have compared him to Scottie Pippen. (In) four years, why can’t Andrew Wiggins turn into a both-ends player that Kawhi Leonard has become?”
Maybe he will. The good thing is, Wiggins doesn’t have to lead the Cavs. He is, at best, the third banana behind James and Irving.
“He doesn’t have to make that leap (right away) or rush his game,” McIntyre said. “I just feel like (if) you put these young guys around LeBron and (space the floor) on that team, (they’re going to be really good).”
The most hilarious part of this entire saga is that Waiters tweeted – jokingly, he later claimed – that he would not accept a reserve role to make room for, say, Mike Miller in the starting lineup.
“Dude, you better adjust,” McIntyre said. “What LeBron (wants) on that team, happens.”