Unless you just woke up from a 24 hour nap, you are well aware that LeBron James has decided to return to Cleveland and rejoin Dan Gilbert’s Cavs. Immediately, this decision opened up the trade rumors of Wolves’ All-Pro Kevin Love being sent to Cleveland to join LeBron and Kyrie Irving to form the latest edition of “the big three”.
However, the reports and rumors are swirling that Cleveland does not want to give up Andrew Wiggins, the #1 pick from last month’s draft. For most Wolves fans, this is a non-starter in negotiations. Either Wiggins is included in the deal or there is no deal. Wolves’ fans have to hope that Flip Saunders doesn’t blink first in negotiations with the Cavs front office.
There are a number of trade scenarios that can be drawn up by the two teams without getting any other franchise involved. Based on the rookie salary scale (BasketballInsiders.com) Wiggins is in line for a contract that would pay him roughly $4.6 million in his first year. However, Wiggins is playing in Las Vegas this week without a signed contract – a risky decision by both he and his agent. Here are a few trade scenarios that I have drawn up using the NBA Trade Machine:
Option 1: Kevin Love for Anthony Bennett, Dion Waiters, and a signed Andrew Wiggins
So while the trade says “failed” above, adding in Wiggins’ $4.6 million salary allows this to go through. If I’m the Wolves, this is a great deal given the options you have on both Anthony Bennett and Dion Waiters. If they don’t pan out or work in the system Flip wants to install, the Wolves could simply let them walk or look to find another deal down the road.
From the Cavs perspective, you likely don’t do this deal UNLESS keeping Anderson Varejao really is such a high priority item for LeBron. I find it hard to believe that LeBron would care this much about keeping a friend around vs. having a very legitimate chance at another ring immediately.
Option 2: Kevin Love for Anderson Varejao and a signed Andrew Wiggins
I have placed Bennett in the trade above for the cap hold. This makes the most sense for both teams, with the caveat mentioned above regarding LeBron’s relationship and feelings towards Varejao. This allows the Cavs to keep all of their other young assets and to see what they become with LeBron on the floor with them. For the Wolves, you get the #1 pick in this year’s draft and an expiring contract. This is too easy and this deal really should already be done. I cannot believe LeBron would get in the way of this happening because of a friendship with Varejao – when he can come back after next season and you get the best PF in the game. (Someone pass this thought process along to LeBron’s camp please.)
Also, if the trade above were to happen without Wiggins involved, please send emergency help to NJ.
Option 3: Kevin Love and JJ Barea for Anderson Varejao, Anthony Bennett, and Andrew Wiggins (signed or unsigned)
While the above trade works without Wiggins’ salary, there is no way the Wolves would ever accept this deal. However, this is also an appealing deal for Cleveland if they want to give up on Bennett (which seems plausible). This deal is fantastic for the Wolves in that it gets rid of JJ Barea’s expiring contract with Kevin Love and brings back a larger expiring contract (Varejao), Bennett, and of course, Wiggins.
Option 4: Kevin Love and JJ Barea for Anthony Bennett, Tristan Thompson, Dion Waiters, and a signed Andrew Wiggins
Again, the trade above would work when dropping in Wiggins’ rookie contract. The Cavs essentially clear roster space for free agents that want to come in and play with LeBron, Love, and Irving for a shot at a ring from day one. The Wolves take a chance with the Cavs’ players and cut the cord with each of them as they see fit and get to judge their talents in Minnesota. Of course, the team could also continue to pick up the options for Waiters and Bennett if they like what they see.
If you are going to tell me that LeBron won’t allow Varejao to be traded, this is the best option for the Cavs. Opening up roster spaces for Mike Miller, Ray Allen, and players of this ilk will go a long way to the Cavs becoming immediately contenders in the Eastern Conference, no matter what happens the rest of the way in free agency.
What do you think Wolves fans? Which deal is best for the Wolves, but more importantly (to me at least), which deal is most realistic?
Let’s go Wolves!