Now that it’s all over, let’s summarize the events of the weekend and those that lead up to the final transaction. When we’re done, we’ll never speak the name of Kevin Love again. (This probably is not true.)
Brian Windhorst at ESPN has an intriguing (read: lengthy) summary of the Love trade timeline beginning way back in late March. Indeed, the Cavs’ original plan was to try and acquire Love with the intention of using the superstar power forward to ultimately lure LeBron James back to Cleveland.
Instead, Flip Saunders resisted trading Love until after the NBA draft, and James’ return to Cleveland was a largely unexpected affair. Of course, Cavaliers’ brass could not have been counting on The King’s return, but once that supposed pipe dream became a reality, the need for Kevin Love only intensified.
Windhorst reports that prior to and around the time of James’ agreement to return to Northeast Ohio, the Cavs were extremely reluctant to include Andrew Wiggins in a trade for Love. Once James made it clear that he wanted to play with Love, things began to move quickly. No other team could trump the Cavs’ offer of Wiggins, and when it became clear that Golden State was not including Klay Thompson in their offer (thank the basketball gods, Wolves fans), Cleveland was the clear trade partner for Saunders to deal with.
Kevin Pelton’s trade grades at ESPN.com (Insider account required) are also interesting. He gives the Cavs an “A” grade; after all, they acquired the only superstar involved in the trade.
The Wolves get a “B-” when it’s all said and done. I like Pelton a great deal, and I absolutely subscribe to the theory that he’s using to grade this trade: the Cavs are receiving a known-commodity in a superstar power forward who also happens to be a top-six league-wide player, and the Wolves are receiving back two unknown quantities and one very good player.
In other words, it’s literally impossible for the Wolves to “win” this trade. They’re losing an all-world, likely generational talent.
The only quibble is the actual, final letter grade that Pelton hands out. Given the circumstances and given the other rumored offers (Golden State’s poo-poo platter, the right to max-out Eric Bledsoe, etc.), the Wolves made out quite well. Yes, they “lost” the trade, but getting the most highly-regarded rookie prospect since Blake Griffin is worth more than a “B-“.
The other knock he has against the Wolves’ current roster is the weird meshing of rookie and sophomore players and veteran, starting-caliber NBA players. He’s right: Andrew Wiggins, Zach LaVine, Shabazz Muhammad, Glenn Robinson III, Anthony Bennett is a young, raw group of players. Mo Williams, Thaddeus Young, Chase Budinger, Corey Brewer, Nikola Pekovic, Kevin Martin is the opposite.
Between the two groups is Ricky Rubio. It’s a fascinating dichotomy, and it’s up to Flip Saunders to ensure that his young Spanish point guard is up to the task of melding the two separate “teams” together.
We’ll have another piece on this strange dynamic shortly. Enjoy your Monday.