The Cleveland Cavaliers have finally shown a willingness to put Andrew Wiggins in a trade for the Minnesota Timberwolves’ Kevin Love, a person familiar with the situation told USA TODAY Sports.
While no deal is imminent, this development jump-starts the conversation between the two teams.
Minnesota has been adamant that any deal with the Cavs for Love include Wiggins. Cleveland had been reluctant to include the No. 1 overall pick in June’s draft in trade talks. It remains unclear what else the T’wolves would want in a trade and whether that will be enough to get a deal done.
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Right now, the T’wolves are playing hardball for teams who want the all-star power forward. Cleveland has numerous young players and several future draft picks to offer, but Wiggins is high on Minnesota’s priority list. USA TODAY Sports previously reported the Golden State Warriors balked at including shooting guard Klay Thompson in a trade for Love, but their interest remains.
Love is coming off the best season of his career, averaging 26.1 points and 12.5 rebounds a game. He can opt out his contract after this season, meaning teams that look to trade for him may want a commitment that he won’t leave after one year. That option also puts pressure on the T’wolves to trade him before losing him for nothing.
But Wiggins was drafted No. 1 with considerable hype. He is averaging 13.7 points, 1.7 steals and 1.7 blocks in summer league action the past week and is expected to play well with LeBron James, who signed with the Cavs last weekend.
Love also would be a great fit with James, replicating the stretch big man role played so well by Chris Bosh for James’ Miami Heat’s four consecutive NBA Finals runs. Love played with James for Team USA at the 2012 London Olympics.
As for Wiggins, the 19-year-old Canadian is receiving a crash course in the NBA rumour mill.
Since he arrived in Las Vegas and found out LeBron James was coming to Cleveland with him, Wiggins has heard his name brought up in possible trade scenarios as the Cavaliers pursue Love. Two people familiar with the situation told The Associated Press that the Cavaliers’ position has remained unchanged despite the reports Thursday and that no offer including Wiggins has been made to Minnesota.
“Rumours are rumours. That’s why they call them rumours,” Cavs coach David Blatt said. “Sooner or later in one’s career, you’re going to have to deal with it. If he has to deal with it now, then so be it. It’s summer league. He’s learning everything as he goes along.”
Wiggins scored 21 points in 31 minutes on Thursday night in a loss to the Houston Rockets. He showcased his superior athleticism by creating mismatches and getting to the free throw line at will, making 15 of 20 free throws and getting one jaw-dropping, chase-down block in transition.
Several fans made remarks during the game about the Cavaliers getting Love, but Wiggins was unfazed. He was unavailable to reporters after the game, but Blatt said he felt no need to talk to him about the speculation.
“What you’ve got to like about the kid is that it doesn’t make a difference if it’s the fourth game of summer league in seven or eight days, or if people are keying on him or the crowd has funny things to say to him,” Blatt said. “He goes out there and really plays and has a nice calm about him and a real good demeanour. Andrew’s going to be a high-level player. It’s good to see.”
The Cavaliers and Timberwolves have been engaged in discussions since before the draft for Love, who can opt out of his contract next summer. That stipulation gives Love tremendous influence on where he ends up, and he initially balked at joining a Cavaliers team that appeared to be in rebuilding mode after missing the playoffs and firing coach Mike Brown.
That all changed when James decided last week to leave the Miami Heat and return to Cleveland, where the Akron native played for the first seven seasons of his career. James’ signing changed Love’s mind about going to Cleveland and the Cavaliers again started conversations with the Wolves.
General manager David Griffin, Blatt and owner Dan Gilbert have to this point refused to include Wiggins in any offer.
That has been a deal-breaker for the Wolves, who want Wiggins to headline any package that the Cavs would offer.
It’s not known if James would prefer the Cavs to hold onto Wiggins in any deal for Love, his U.S. Olympic teammate. But what’s certain is that the Cavaliers will take James’ feelings into consideration before making any move. The four-time MVP is hugely influential, and his return to the Cavaliers has restored hope in a franchise that has been down and out since he left for Miami in 2010.
Wiggins has yet to sign his rookie contract, which has led to speculation that the Cavaliers were stalling on that front to make it easier to execute a trade. The minute Wiggins does sign the deal, he cannot be traded for 30 days under league rules.
But keeping him unsigned also gives the Cavaliers more flexibility to pursue free agents. They have already agreed to terms with veteran shooters Mike Miller and James Jones, and have reached out to Ray Allen as well.
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