Love played under Coach K on the 2010 World Championship and 2012 Olympic Teams, winning two gold medals and establishing himself as a fixture of USA Basketball in the process. In an interview on The John Feinstein Show, Krzyzewski made compelling points for his case that Cleveland should trade for Love even if it means sacrificing Andrew Wiggins.
“He’s a double-double guy, but he’s a double-double guy that can spread the court,” Krzyzewski said. “There aren’t many double-double guys, if any, who spread the court. He can go inside and outside. There may be a low-post player that gets you a double-double, but Love does it and you can do a lot of different things with him.”
Love’s offensive fit with LeBron James and the Cavs would be seamless. No big man in the league save for Dirk Nowitzki stretches the floor better than Love, a crucial influence on a team with a dominant post-player like LeBron and multiple penetrators. A pick-and-roll featuring Love and either James or Kyrie Irving as ballhandler would be among basketball’s most deadly, too.
But it’s Cleveland’s timeline that makes swapping Wiggins, Anthony Bennett, and anything else for Love most defensible. James isn’t getting any younger, and Wiggins is several years away from approaching his prime – at 25 years-old, Love is right in the thick of his own.
“You look at LeBron and you have the best player in the world,” Krzyzewski said. “He’s 29. I’m not saying he’s at the end of his career, but he’s in the second half of his career, let’s put it that way. And in the first half of his career, he was becoming a great player. He was a great talent becoming a great player. That takes time – just like if Wiggins or Bennett are going to be great, it’s not going to happen right now. They’re great talents. LeBron is a great player right now. You do not want to waste any year of a great player’s career.”
Wiggins is expected to sign his rookie contract with the Cavaliers this week, which would preclude him from being traded for 30 days. That turn of events doesn’t necessarily speak to Cleveland’s final decision with regard to Love, though. Unless the Golden State Warriors trump the Cavs’ potential offer of Wiggins and flotsam by including Klay Thompson in theirs, the market for Love will likely remain stagnant. The Minnesota Timberwolves should be content holding out for the best possible trade package before mid-February’s deadline, and have even said they’re comfortable hanging onto Love all season long.
It’s been suggested by some in league circles that Cleveland coach David Blatt prefers players with Wiggins’ elite athleticism and defensive potential to offensive-minded ones like Love. There’s nothing on the record to confirm that sentiment, but Krzyzewski feels differently with respect to this specific situation.
It’s easy to see both sides of the Love-Wiggins debate; there might not be a wrong answer here. Coach K, however, clearly disagrees.
Would you trade for Love if it meant giving up Wiggins?
Follow Jack on Twitter at @ArmstrongWinter.
Follow Dime on Twitter at @DimeMag.
Become a fan of Dime Magazine on Facebook HERE.