Report: Cavs Still Have Best Chance To Land Kevin Love

The Kevin Love sweepstakes rumbles on with just a scant 200-plus days until the 2015 NBA trade deadline means the ‘Wolves likely lose him in free agency next summer. While the Cavs have officially signed Andrew Wiggins, necessitating a 30-day waiting period before Cleveland can move him as part of their offering for Love, they’re still the front-runners for the 25-year-old forward’s services — especially in lieu of the recent revelations from Chicago.

According to Marc Stein and Brian Windhorst of ESPN, the Cavs are still the favorites to acquire the discontented Love this summer:

The Cleveland Cavaliers cannot officially trade Andrew Wiggins before Aug. 23, but they remain the front-runner in the trade sweepstakes for the Minnesota Timberwolves’ Kevin Love, according to sources close to the process.

Sources told that the Wolves, at present, are higher on a Cleveland trade package centered around Wiggins than any other offer on the table for Love. reported Tuesday that the Cavaliers, meanwhile, are increasingly confident about their chances of landing Love and firmly believe they are progressing toward a trade framework that the Timberwolves will accept in exchange for the All-Star power forward, which would enable Cleveland to pair him with Olympic teammate LeBron James.

Since rookie Doug McDermott signed with Chicago on Tuesday and Mirotic signed on July 18, Chicago’s purported offering of McBuckets, Mirotic and Taj Gibson would likely have to wait almost as long as the Cavs will with Wiggins. That’s discounting today’s report that the Bulls are hesitant to deal the European Mirotic since they promised him he’d stay with Chicago if he agreed to come over from his Spanish League team, Real Madrid.

Keep in mind, both Chicago and Cleveland can hash out a deal with Minnesota despite the 30-day window after rookies sign with a team. They simply can’t make it official until that grace period ends, but a verbal commitment works, similar to the one’s players and teams agree on during the July moratorium.

There’s more, too, from ESPN about how the Cavs have separated themselves from Chicago and Golden State offerings (David Lee, Harrison Barnes and Klay Thompson, the latter of whom the Dubs won’t include in a deal at present). A source claims Cleveland’s package headlined by Wiggins — plus Anthony Bennett, a first-rounder and possibly more — is more enticing to ‘Wolves owner Glen Taylor:

One source insisted this week, however, that the Wolves — especially owner Glen Taylor — actually now prefer a package headlined by Wiggins to a [Klay] Thompson-led haul for Love because Wiggins is widely seen as possessing superstar potential while also just starting out on a rookie contract. Thompson is eligible for a lucrative contract extension from the Warriors or any team he’s traded to between now and Halloween.

Windhorst and Stein add that LeBron James is intrigued by Andrew Wiggins’ potential, and tracked him in summer league play, he is on board with Cleveland’s win-now pursuit of Love.

Love’s ability to knock down three-pointers, plus his rebounding and passing (specifically his deadeye accuracy on outlet passes) would mesh well with James, Kyrie Irving and whomever is left over at the trade in Cleveland. His addition — even with the loss of Wiggins – would immediately catapault the Cavs to the favorites in the Eastern Conference.

The debate between Wiggins’ potential and Love’s current all-around ability continues to rage on the blogosphre and Twitter. Here are a pair of examples that best represent the gulf separating smart analysts — at least in regards to Love’s defense. ESPN’s Kevin Pelton writes that the Love trade, even with Wiggins, is a “no-brainer” (insider only) and the numbers don’t support his defensive liabilities. Then there are the league sources and NBA scouts who tell Sean Deveney of the Sporting News, Love’s “turnstile defense leaves the door open for criticism.”

Quantifying defensive impact is a difficult undertaking, especially considering Love’s teammates in Minnesota. We do know he’s a good defensive rebounder, and he was rated as “pretty good” on defense by Synergy; Love only allowed .712 points per possession when he was defending in the low-post, which is “excellent” on Synergy’s scale (both per Deveney).

Still, there are going to be those who feel dealing Wiggins isn’t a smart long-term move for Cleveland especially in light of LeBron’s two-year deal with a player option for the second year that could make him a free agent again next summer. LeBron isn’t ever leaving Cleveland again, so this fear is a little short-sighted; James signed the deal to take advantage of a possible supercharged hike in the salary cap after a lucrative new television rights deal. Then there’s the possibility the players union opts out of the current collective bargaining agreement after the 2015-16 season, something that’s pretty much a forgone conclusion after the owners stuck it to the players during the 2011 lockout. That will also affect contracts, hence the short-term nature of James’ deal.

Locking Love in long-term will definitely happen for either Golden State, Chicago and now Cleveland — after James joined the fray in Ohio. Now Cavs have to a decision and so do the Timberwolves. All signs point towards a big swap between Cleveland and Minnesota in late August, but anything’s possible during this topsy-turvy NBA off-season.

Deal or Love or keep Wiggins?

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