It looks to be a fore gone conclusion that on Saturday, the first day that Andrew Wiggins can be traded after signing his rookie contract, the Cleveland Cavaliers, Minnesota Timberwolves, and Philadelphia 76ers, will complete the long-awaited trade that will see Kevin Love end up with LeBron James, Kyrie Irving and the Cavs, while Wiggins will go to the Wolves after not playing one meaningful game for the team that drafted him. After the original agreement between Cleveland and Minnesota was reported, the 76ers got involved as the Wolves decided they wanted a better overall return for the star of their team. The end result, as noted by ESPN’s Marc Stein, looks to be Love going to the Cavs; Wiggins, Anthony Bennett, and Thaddeus Young going to the Wolves; while the 76ers receive the first round pick that would have gone to Minnesota (which was previously owned by the Miami Heat), along with Minnesota salary dumps Luc Richard Mbah A Moute and Alexey Shved. While we will update this Saturday if anything further is added to this agreement, that’s enough for us to grade each team, in an NBA Edition of SportsZone’s Trade Grades:


imagesANFX0KGLSo the city of Cleveland gets what it, and the returning King, wanted in a brand new Big Three of Lebron, Love, and Irving, to go with Dion Waiters and Anderson Varejo, presumably in the starting lineup, with new arrival Shawn Marion, the young Tristan Thompson, and James Jones the first ones off the bench, a lineup that will be expected to end the season in the NBA Finals. Love has made it known that he welcomes the idea of signing long-term with the Cavs now that James is in town, and with these three presumably staying for the next five years (the length of Irving’s extension, as James only signed a short-term contract in preparation for the possible expansion of the salary cap in the next few years, and Love thought to be following his lead), Cleveland could have its own Dynasty in hand. They obviously felt it was worth the loss of three first round picks- Bennett (last year’s first overall pick), Wiggins (this year’s first pick), and a first rounder from next year’s draft, plus the first round pick and players they gave up in cost cutting trades before James signed, and are firmly locked in “Championship or Bust” mode. We’ll see if Wiggins makes them regret giving him up so soon.


The last time the Timberwolves traded a superstar (Kevin Garnett in 2007), they ended up with one star (Al Jefferson), Ryan Gomes, Gerald Green (too raw at the time to contribute), Sebastian Telfair, Theo Ratliff and two future first round picks (which became Wayne Ellington and Jonny Flynn). When it came time to trade Jefferson, they got two first round picks (Donatas Motiejunas and Terrence Jones) that were traded to the Houston Rockets for Chase Budinger, Chandler Parsons (who was promptly traded back to Houston for cash), and Nikola Mirotic (whose rights were traded to the Chicago Bulls for a star studded package led by Norris Cole. In the time since the trade of KG the Timberwolves only three first round picks have made a substantial contribution in Love, Corey Brewer, Ricky Rubio (after two years in Europe once he was drafted), while whiffing horribly year after year, wasting top 10 draft picks on Derrick Williams, Wesley Johnson and Jonny Flynn, while also trading Ty Lawson to the Denver Nuggets for a pick that became Luke Babbit.

images4M8UP176imagesHW9UBV0ENew Team President Flip Saunders was smart enough to realize that to break this endless cycle of futility, rebuilding was no longer the answer, and to come out of any trade involving Kevin Love with mere draft picks or players close to free agency was to give up their star for pennies on the dollar and unacceptable. Chicago and Golden State each had packages involving established players, the Warriors thought to have the package Minnesota favored until they decided not to part with Klay Thompson. But all along, the idea of teaming Andrew Wiggins with Ricky Rubio in the backcourt for years to come was too good to pass up. Adding in Bennett, who has drawn rave reviews in the summer league and is primed for a turnaround after one of the worst rookie seasons ever by a first overall pick, gives the Wolves another player under team control who could become a cornerstone over time. But the coup for Saunders was taking the first round pick he was getting from the Cavs, and not only obtaining an adequate replacement for Love at power forward in Thaddeus Young, but getting the 76ers to take back the salaries of Mbah A Moute and Shved, two players who weren’t getting playing time, in the process. Young is not the scorer or shooter Love is, but he did average a career high 17.7 points a game last season, is an adequate rebounder, slightly better defender than Love, and is only 25. At the very least, Saunders has made the statement that the Wolves expect to compete next season without Love, and a starting lineup of Rubio, Wiggins, Bennett/Corey Brewer/Kevin Martin, Young, and Nikola Pekovic could be a lot better than most would think in the tough Western Conference.


They add another first round pick to their collection, but not being able to pry Anthony Bennett from the Wolves basically means they gave up Young pretty cheaply, while eating up some of their much-coveted cap space. The Sixers have seemed determined to trade Young for a while now, and the first round pick could turn into a decent player for them, but overall, it feels like they forced their way into a trade that sees them lose their most experienced player for a minimal return. Makes one wonder if their rebuilding effort will ever produce results, while applauding Saunders more for avoiding a total rebuild.

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