Despite what those breathtakingly excited (and who can blame them) Cavaliers fans on Twitter may be conjuring up in their ridiculously optomistic but spinning-rapidly-with-LeBron-news heads, it’s a pretty hard scenario to envision.
Let’s start with the obvious: Cleveland still has to clear some pretty significant cap space for the Return of the King. There are some pretty hideous salaries that must still be foisted upon other organizations — Jarrett Jack (three-years, $18.9 million remaining), Anthony Bennett (more than $5.5 million next year, and two team options for the following two years at a similar cost) are a couple that come to mind.
Of course, LeBron seems to be leaning towards deciding that Kyrie Irving, Anderson Varejao, and possibly Tristan Thompson, plus cap space to sign another star are enough to lure him back “home” to Cleveland. If that’s indeed true, we can move forward with the expectation that Cleveland needs to continue clearing space for another star, and one of the other players that they’re targeting is likely Love.
Truthfully, the Cavs do not have a ton to offer in exchange for Love. Granted, it’s a far, far more likely scenario than any swap with say, the Lakers, but it’ll still be tough. Andrew Wiggins would have to be included (I’ve gone on record as thinking that he will not be a star, but Flip Saunders and the Wolves’ front office loves him), but beyond that, it gets dicey.
Another interesting piece that would absolutely need to be included is a future first round pick of the Miami Heat. The pick is top 10 protected in 2015 and 2016, but becomes unprotected in the 2017 NBA Draft. In a post-LeBron, post-Chris Bosh, and post/old-Dwayne Wade South Beach, that pick could be golden.
So we have Wiggins and the Miami Heat first round pick heading to Minnesota. They’d likely ask for Thompson as well, and the Cavs would not need him if they were getting Love in return. The Wolves would also want some future picks, but those picks would clearly be worth a lot less if Cleveland is building a Kyrie Irving/Love/LeBron super team.
Again, Cleveland would need to find takers for Jack, Bennett, and others. Jack absolutely would not be headed to the Wolves, but there’s a chance that Flip could be talked into taking both last year’s number one overall pick in Bennett and this year’s in Wiggins. Personally, I’d ask for Wiggins, Thompson, Sergey Karasev, the Miami pick, and another future first-rounder. (This would be a fairly distant second place to a Chicago Bulls deal that brings back Jimmy Butler, Taj Gibson, and Nikola Mirotic. Alas, it does not appear that this will happen.)
I expect James to head back to Cleveland, and they’ll do whatever they need to for Kevin Love or another comparable star. At this point, I doubt that Love ends up there, if only because the Cavs won’t have the assets that the Wolves crave. But you never know.