Kevin Love officially traded to Cleveland Cavaliers in three-team deal, Andrew Wiggins sent to Minnesota

August 23, 2014

In a highly-anticipated move that could not be made official under NBA rules until today, the Cleveland Cavaliers acquired power forward Kevin Love in a three-team trade that sent guard Andrew Wiggins and forward Anthony Bennett to Minnesota, and a protected 2015 first round pick to Philadelphia.

The pick was originally acquired from the Miami Heat and is pick 1-10 protected in 2015 and 2016. The pick becomes unprotected in 2017.

As part of the three-team trade, Minnesota will also acquire forward Thaddeus Young from the 76ers, while Philadelphia receives forward Luc Mbah a Moute and guard Alexey Shved from the Timberwolves.  Minnesota will also receive a trade exception.

The deal instantly makes the Cavs one of the favorites to win the Eastern Conference, as the team now has a talented trio of stars in Love, point guard Kyrie Irving, and forward LeBron James, to go along with a solid supporting cast of veteran and young players.

“Kevin joining the Cavaliers represents a very special and unique opportunity for our team. At only 25, Kevin has already firmly established himself as one the NBA’s elite players and his talent, versatility and fit are major parts of our team’s vision for success,” said Cavs GM David Griffin.

Now that the deal is finally complete, the big question is: Can LeBron duplicate the same kind of success with this new trio that he had with the "Big 3" in Miami?

The Love-James pairing likely will be a perfect marriage for a variety of reasons, and an upgrade over LeBron's former Miami teammate Chris Bosh.

First, Love is a better outside shooter than Bosh, so when the Cavs elect to spread the floor and go into a 1-4 set, or run some pick-and-pop action, James would be dishing the rock to a more reliable three point shooter in Love.

Second, Love might not be as tall or athletic as Bosh, but he is a far more physical presence.

On offense, that means Love can be counted on to command double teams in the low post with his ability to score on the block, should Cleveland elect to run their offense through him.

Defensively, his ability to crash the glass will relieve James of some of the burden of battling the trees down low, and will make for multiple highlight plays when Love displays his unbelievable ability to throw length-of-the-floor-wrist-flick-outlet passes to a streaking James.

Last season Love averaged a career-high 26.1 points on .457 shooting, including .376 from beyond the arc and .821 from the foul line, 12.5 rebounds, and a career-high 4.4 assists. 

Considered to be among the top 3 players at his position, the 6-10, 243-pound Love ranked first in double-doubles (65), first in defensive rebounds per game (9.6), and third in total rebounds per game (12.5).  Love, a UCLA product, is the first player to average 26/12/4 since Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Bob McAdoo accomplished that feat in 1975-76.

Where the Cavs could have problems is with the James-Irving pairing.

Despite James' tremendous unselfishness and his ability to make the right pass to the open man, it must be recognized that he is far from the level of a Magic Johnson when it comes to truly enhancing the games of his teammates.

When paired with James, Bosh's game became marginalized after four years, as he essentially played like a de facto 3 in the Heat's half court sets, camping out on the perimeter to await a James kick-out pass, or occasionally facing up at the elbow, but rarely going down in the low post.

Flash forward now to the tandem of Irving and James.  Both prefer to have the ball in their hands in order create off the dribble, but unless one player is on the bench while the other is running the second unit, at some point, one of the two is going to have to sacrifice his game somewhat and play off the ball a lot more.

Miami had a similar situation with James and D-Wade, with Wade ultimately giving up touches for James.  But Wade was a mature and accomplished veteran, and even then that sacrifice still was not easy for him to swallow.  One would think such a sacrifice would be more difficult for the younger Irving, who is still trying to prove himself in this league.

Still, Irving's experience playing on Team USA this summer should help him adjust to his new situation in Cleveland, as in both cases, he will have to integrate his game with several talented teammates.

In the end, dividing up touches among All-Star players is a problem many NBA teams would be thrilled to have, Cleveland included.

As for Minnesota, their return on the deal has the potential to alter the franchise for years to come, and in their eyes, constituted a better alternative than the risk of losing Love to free agency next summer.

Wiggins and Bennett, both Canadian nationals, were the top picks in the last two NBA Drafts, with Wiggins in particular having the upside and elite athleticism to be a top player down the line. He already is expected to make an impact defensively next season.

In fact, one could argue that the Wolves have perhaps the most athletic -- but raw -- pair of perimeter players in the league in rookies Wiggins and Zach LaVine of UCLA.

Undoubtedly, when they made this deal the 'Wolves brass likely had visions of point guard Ricky Rubio running the break with LaVine and Wiggins filling the lanes on the wing and finishing with thunderous jams in transition.

Wiggins, 19, was named Big 12 Freshman of the Year and First-Team All-League in his only year at Kansas.  In 35 contests with the Jayhawks last year, the 6-8, 194-pound guard averaged 17.1 points and 5.9 rebounds per game. In four games during the 2014 NBA Summer League, Wiggins averaged 15.5 points and 3.5 rebounds per game.

"We are excited to add three young, talented and athletic players to our team in Andrew Wiggins, Anthony Bennett and Thaddeus Young," said Timberwolves head coach Flip Saunders. "With the additions of Wiggins, Bennett, and Zach LaVine this summer, we have brought in three exciting young athletes who all have the potential to have an impact in this league. All three of them complement each other very well and we believe they will be foundations of our team for years to come. In Young we are getting a proven NBA player who is entering the prime of his career."

Bennett, who struggled greatly last season, and Wiggins, are both raw however, and there is no guarantee as to just how good they will become.  Because of their unpolished games, Cleveland opted to make the deal for the highly-skilled Love before some other team dealt for him first.

Bennett was the Cavs’ No. 1 pick in the 2013 NBA Draft, appearing in 52 games and averaging 4.2 points and 3.0 rebounds per game in 2013-14. The 6-8, 243-pound forward out of UNLV also played in four quick showcase contests for the Cavs’ summer league team with averages of 13.3 points and 7.8 rebounds per game.

Wiggins will wear number 22 for the Wolves, while Bennett will don number 24, and Young number 33

As for the Sixers, Young was a productive player last season, but his loss will be welcomed by management because the truth of the matter is that Philly is in tank mode and is looking to build through the draft.

Young, a 26-year-old forward, last season Young averaged a career-high 17.9 points, 6.0 rebounds, and 2.1 steals.

Mbah a Moute has known top Sixers pick Joel Embiid for years, and is there simply to ease the rookie's transition to the NBA while providing some quality defense along the way.

Mbah a Moute, a 27-year-old forward, is a six-year NBA veteran out of UCLA with career averages of 6.3 points and 4.9 rebounds in 399 career games (240 career starts).

Shved is a tall combo guard with athleticism, but is still developing his game.  The 6-6 Shved, 25, owns career averages of 6.5 points and 2.5 assists in 140 games (16 starts) over two seasons.

By Staff of and news services

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