…and why the Cavs should trade Wiggins for Love
NBA free agency season is almost over. LeBron James has landed in Cleveland. Carmelo Anthony has re-upped with the New York Knicks. The two remaining components of Superfriends (D-Wade and DinoBosh) have stayed to steady the ship in Miami.
Apart from a few other small moving pieces, the only big news that we may yet wake to this off-season centres around the whereabouts of Kevin Love.
Rumours surrounding Love have abounded for months now. Will he end up with the storied Boston Celtics? Will the Golden State Warriors put together a package to bring him to the Bay? Will he somehow fill out the rotting corpse that is the Los Angeles Lakers roster?
Or, will Love end up with his most prominent suitor, King James and his newly incarnated Cleveland Cavaliers?
The prevailing opinion, at least early on, was that the Minnesota Timberwolves would not trade Love to Cleveland unless phenom lottery pick Andrew Wiggins was to be part of the package. That proviso was apparently the big factor that would gazump the trade ever happening, as it seems crazy for the Cavs to give up a player with such ridiculous upside as Wiggins, right?
Well, contrary to that which our friend Haggard has opined elsewhere at AndRise, I’m here to tell you that the Cavs HAVE to make this deal happen. They simply can not afford not to.
Let me tell you why.
What is the key objective of any NBA franchise? Let me make it simple for those of you struggling at home: Win.
Don’t forget that for a second. Winning is all that matters.
We’ve entered an era in NBA hoops where the emphasis has shifted far too heavily in favour of potential. The future. Ridiculous upside potential.
The future is what losing teams focus on. Teams in a position to win right now, they need to do everything in their control to win. Right now.
If you have LeBron James on your roster — the fairly unanimously accepted best player in the world — then that automatically means that your team needs to be in Win Now Mode. In its current state, the Cavs roster surrounding LBJ is insufficient to take out Western Conference heavyweights the likes of the San Antonio Spurs. Just take a look at how LeBron’s star-studded cast failed in the Finals a month back.
Even with young stars the calibre of Kyrie Irving and Wiggins, the Cavs are not a team that can do better than the top four in the East. Even James himself admitted as much in his “homecoming essay” in Sports Illustrated recently. Pointedly, he failed to mention Wiggins’ name in that same essay.
On the other hand, both he and Love have made well… love, publicly around each others’ talents, and are clearly excited by the potential (there’s that word again) of pairing. Sure, Love lacks in the defensive department in many pundits’ estimations, but the man knows how to score in bunches, rebound like a behemoth, and he throws a mean fast-break-igniting-outlet-pass.
Bringing Love into a core of James and Irving could make for some very interesting basketball. It certainly makes for a much better chance at winning in the next few years. Let’s not forget: James is 29 years old — he’s in his peak. But that peak will only last a couple more years. Meanwhile, Love is only 25, Irving is 22.
These guys are going to be good for quite a few more years. Love has made it clear that he would happily re-sign in Cleveland. Other free agents would presumably be keen to come too.
Conversely, if you hang onto Wiggins with the promise of the future, you have LeBron playing Professor, teaching the young guys lessons, waiting for the day when they can contribute. Meanwhile, the best player in the league is getting frustrated about not winning (remember his last stay in Cleveland?) and is getting closer to the decline of his career.
If Wiggins turns out to be the next LeBron, well, you have a great team for another decade. But what if he isn’t? Talk about a hostile, impatient environment.
Not only will LeBron be anxious to win again, but the city of Cleveland will continue to hunger for the success that they have not seen.
The time is now. Winning is everything. Love is (almost) all you need.
(Credit (almost) to the Beatles)