From 'inevitable' to unofficially official:
The Minnesota Timberwolves have reached an agreement in principle to send All-Star forward Kevin Love to the Cleveland Cavaliers for Andrew Wiggins, Anthony Bennett and a protected 2015 first-round draft pick, league sources told Yahoo Sports.
The deal cannot be finalized until Aug. 23, because Wiggins, the No. 1 overall pick in the 2014 NBA draft, cannot be traded until one month after the signing of his rookie contract. The two teams have agreed to the deal, but neither would have recourse if the other decided to pull out of the arrangement before it can be formally completed this month. No third team is involved in the Cavaliers-Timberwolves trade agreement.
A couple notes about this move that Woj points out:
- There's an 'agreement' for Love to sign a max extension after opting-out in the offseason. That's always how it had to work, there was no way Love was going to sign an extension early, as it would've been for far less money.
- There doesn't look to be anything else involved, with one fallout being that Minnesota didn't shed any of their other long-term contracts in the deal. They still did pretty damned good in this trade, and better than any Bulls potential offer.
- This bit! "Part of the Cavaliers' motivation in making the deal for Love was a belief Love would have ended up with the rival Chicago Bulls". Haha, sure. Maybe the Wolves were getting more desperate this month, but the Bulls recent interest was probably just to indeed get the Cavs antsy more than their own urgency to get Love. The best chance at that was before the draft and using the flexibility they had.
The Bulls pursuit of Love, such as it was (per Aggrey Sam, they were never seriously considering it) now falls into the long line of superstars changing teams to the not-Bulls, where it'll be debated with incomplete information where some insist no Bulls fault and others see a missed opportunity.
(The best part is everyone can be wrong, there.)
But what does it mean for this upcoming season and the team the Bulls will have to face? This new Big 3 in Cleveland is a long-term obstacle. LeBron is in his prime at 29, Kevin Love is only 25 and Kyrie Irving is 22. They are three guys who all can create opportunities for others and shoot the lights out, and have complementary skills. It's a bit frightening to be honest, this trio doesn't have the outright star power that the 2010 Heat had but you could argue they are a better fit.
Like that Heat team though, there are question marks still: depth, a rookie coach, and especially the team's defense. Irving and Love are not only below what Wade/Bosh were on the defensive end, but among the worst at their respective positions. Even LeBron has slipped on that end lately. They do have Anderson Varejao for the middle but he's been frequently hurt.
That said, the Cavs have made some other moves and have the flexibility for more. They signed LeBron-pals Mike Miller and James Jones, and we've seen before that others will take less to join James. Perhaps Shawn Marion is next. And/or Ray Allen. It doesn't look like the 3 non-guaranteed contracts Cleveland acquired from Utah will be needed in the Love deal, so those can be dealt for more veteran help, as could potentially Dion Waiters.
Will it wind up being enough for them? These things can take time, sure, but both the 10-11 Heat and the 07-08 Celtics saw their newly-formed superteams reach The Finals in year one. The NBA season is long to the point where cohesion can be attained and tweaks can be made. This conference, including the Bulls is not without question marks all over.
After acquiring another star, I wouldn't say the Cavs are now the clear favorite in the East. But if you're picking one, it's them. The Bulls are their best challenger though, and maybe the only ones on the same tier with them. Heck knowing Thibs-ball the Bulls will probably win more regular season games. But I can't now pick them in a 7-game series for the 2015 playoffs, and given the age profiles of both teams, you'd have to wonder if this year is Chicago's best chance for supremacy before another LeBron era begins.