Cleveland has three of the last four No. 1 draft picks on its roster. The best player in the NBA is putting on a Cavs uniform this fall. The Cavaliers are the most buzzworthy team in the NBA. So what’s my problem?
First, let me just get this out there. The “plan” to trade Kevin Love for Andrew Wiggins is the biggest example of groupthink since the invasion of Iraq. My thoughts on the matter are on record. But let me just reiterate the key points.
We’re getting into the dog days of summer here. You know, when you’re dripping sweat and gasping for breath during that pickup game at the park with nine other crazy souls. With David Griffin and Co. in an apparent holding pattern until August 23rd, you and your fellow Cavs fans will have just a few subjects to discuss between games. So here’s five questions for you, answered by five CtB bloggers. Enjoy the run.
1.) A Kevin Love for Andrew Wiggins+Anthony Bennett trade adds (subtracts?) how many wins to next season’s team? How about the playoff picture?
Tom: Love’s SWAgR was about 12, meaning he produced about 12 wins himself. Anthony Bennett’s SWAgR was negative. I’ll assume that Bennett would produce about a win this season and Wiggins about two (grabbing Kawhi Lenoard’s rookie season as my comp). The Cavs go +9 regular season wins with this trade. Putting them from mid 50s to mid 60s. Usually I would never assume that things would work out seamlessly for the Cavs, but Love and LeBron are outlandishly better passers than the Cavs have had during the rebuild trade-asset-accumulation-process (or TAAP). The playoffs are murkier because, as we’ve seen in the past, PEDs match-ups can be game-changers. But the talent alone will take them to the Conference Finals. And if they’re healthy and firing on all cylinders, the Finals. I wouldn’t predict that without Love.
Forget sausage legs on the beach. My bald head in Sicily.
I rounded the southern tip of Ortigia, the island city center of Siracusa, Sicily. Drinking in the sinking Ionian sun, I glanced to my left at a small sicilian boy rocking a Miami Heat hat. For a split second, my vacation euphoria was replaced by the dull ache of disgust. Then a beautiful thing happened. Almost immediately, the feeling gave way to an open-mouthed giggle that brought the boy’s eyes to mine. “Go Cavs!” I cheered. I don’t think he understood what I said. I didn’t care. What was more important to me in that moment was the realization that this time next year, another little boy’s hat would be displaying a Cavalier’s sword. Or even better, the word: Cleveland.
The Kevin Love trade has seemed inevitable for the past two weeks now. ESPN has reported that it is now even more inevitable, as no other teams are involved in talks about obtaining Love. The Bulls don’t have a young cheap possible superstar to offer, and the Warriors still don’t want to give up Klay Thompson in a trade for Love.
Last week, ESPN.com reported that the Bulls had re-emerged as a serious suitor for Love, despite the fact they had a few more trade assets to offer Minnesota before last month’s NBA draft. But sources said this week that Chicago essentially has conceded to the Cavs, knowing it can’t furnish a player with both Wiggins’ superstar potential and his favorable rookie-scale contract.
The Cavaliers organization is preparing to fold up the paint-splatted tarps, take down the scaffolding and scrub everyone from finger nails to elbows with Lava soap, signaling an end to one of the wildest rebuilds in league history. But, this October will not the first time LeBron James has tightened the draw-string on a pair of wine and gold shorts. So, it seems fitting to take this mid-summer’s time when the NBA news cycle has finally (finally!) receded to its yearly low tide to take a look back on some of the other Cavs teams LeBron James has led and where the starters on those clubs, those not-quite-ready-for-championship players, are now.
Let’s start at the very beginning… with your 2003-04 Cleveland Cavaliers.
The Cavs inked their number one draft pick, Andrew Wiggins, on Friday. He can no longer be traded for thirty days. So the team has until August 23rd to figure out a trade for Love not involving Wiggins. While this is my hope, it seems unlikely that the Wolves will make any deal with the Cavs that doesn’t involve their talented wing prospect.
The Cavs amazing off-season continues. To celebrate, we all pitched in and bought a big ole variety pack of Brews and Bruises. We just threw them all in the iced down cooler and the labels fell off, so no one could be quite sure what what beer or player they were going to get. Reach in, pop the top, sit back, and enjoy the 2014 Cavaliers Off-Season Beer Guide, and remember, drink responsibly…
Four points I’m thinking about the Cleveland Cavaliers…
1.) There’s a reason that the two sides of the Kevin Love/Andrew Wiggins debate are so equally passionate about the other side being horribly misguided. This is not necessarily an argument about the personnel moves made by a basketball team so much as it is a larger struggle between Reason and Imagination. Love, supporters of the trade that would send Minnesota a package headlined by the Cavs’ recent number one pick say, immediately makes this Cavs team a contender (at least in the East) and, still only 25, would keep the Cavs championship window open well through LeBron’s prime, the new extension on Kyrie Irving’s contract, as well as whatever new contract the Cavs cadre (Lake Erie’s new answer to the Miami mafia) convinces him is worth the signature either prior to or just after the 2014-15 season.
They are, of course, entirely right. If the only thing we can be sure of in professional sports is what we already know, then Love is a no-brainer. Whenever you have the assets to nab a top-12 player who has yet to enter his prime (which is really the scariest thought here) while still keeping the middle of your batting order together, you do it. You do not think about Anthony Bennett, reason says. You do not think about the type of player Andrew Wiggins might develop into.
Summer league is over and the Cavs have added some additional players to round out the roster, so it is officially time to start speculating about what the starting lineup may look like. Mike Mayer of Fear the Swordhas kicked off the discussion. His predicted lineup looks like it would be Kyrie Irving, Dion Waiters, LeBron James, Tristan Thompson, and Andy Varejao. He argues for Waiters over Wiggins from the standpoint that Wiggins is a rookie.
Defensively, Wiggins projects to be very good, but as a rookie, it’s unlikely that he would actually be any better than Waiters. At least not from day one.
So while Wiggins may be a better fit for this spot in theory, I would actually be pretty surprised if he starts over Waiters on opening night.
Tom and I attempted to keep this podcast svelt, like a slimmed down Anthony Bennett. Sadly, we failed. This pod was trip to a Las Vegas buffet — we just couldn’t help ourselves: discussing the Summer League, LeBron, Aaron Craft, the melancholy of the the new Cavs era, what’s driving us nuts about Kevin Love trade talk, and so much more. You can listen in on SoundCloud at https://soundcloud.com/ctb-5/summer-league-review-lebron … enjoy.
Nate Smith is an Associate Editor. He grew up in Anchorage, Alaska, and moved to NE Ohio in 2000. He adopted the Cavs in 2003 and graduated from Kent State in 2009 with a BA in English. He can be contacted at email@example.com or @oldseaminer on Twitter.
Tom Pestak is an Associate Editor. He's from the west side of Cleveland and lives and (mostly) dies by the success and (mostly) failures of his beloved teams. You can watch his fanaticism during Cavs games @tompestak.
Robert Attenweiler is a Staff Writer. Originally from OH, he's long made his home in NYC where he writes plays and screenplays (www.disgracedproductions.com) some of which end up being about Ohio, basketball or both. He has also written for The Classical and the blog Raising the Cadavalier. You can contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org or @cadavalier.
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