It seemed like so much longer than just 30 days, but August 23, 2014 did eventually come and, with it, the deal that delivers Kevin Love to the Cleveland Cavaliers became official.
Now, even though everyone has been talking about this trade for weeks like it had already occurred, this trade has now occurred. The Cavaliers get the 6-10, 260 pound, three-time all star, sending the Minnesota Timberwolves the spoils of their last two years of lottery luck in Andrew Wiggins and Anthony Bennett. The Philadelphia 76ers steps in to facilitate the trade/the continued gutting of their roster sending Thaddeus Young to the Wolves and getting back guard Alexey Shved and forward Luc Mbah a Moute from Minnesota and the Miami Heat’s 2015 first round pick from Cleveland.
Wiggins is only the second number one pick in NBA history to be traded before playing his first professional game. He joins Chris Webber who was traded from the Magic to Golden State on a draft day trade in 1993. Wiggins’s post-draft summer was a little less comfortable than Webber’s, though, as he had to deal with trade rumors basically from the moment LeBron James re-signed with the team in mid-July.
Love is coming off a season where he averaged 26.1 points and 12.5 rebounds a game and his ability to stretch the floor (37.6% shooting from three) makes him the perfect compliment to James.
Because the trade has been a veritable lock for several weeks now, you know what most everyone here at Cavs: The Blog thinks, hopes, eats, prays and loves about Love. But now, at least, we can talk about an Irving-Love-James core (even thinking “Big Three” makes me throw up a little in my mouth) as a real, actual thing and look forward to watching arguably the most talented team in Cavaliers history.
Four points I’m thinking about the Cleveland Cavaliers…
1.) The Cavaliers recent signing of Shawn Marion continues an off-season theme for the team. No, it’s not “sign guys nearly as old as Robert,” though I do appreciate David Griffin’s signings allowing me to talk knowledgeably about the late-90s with some degree of relevance for a change. It’s this: from LeBron James to Kevin Love to Mike Miller and rookies Joe Harris and Dwight Powell, Griffin has been limbering up his roster to give head coach David Blatt lineup flexibility that could, Griffin hopes, put your bikram yoga instructor to shame.
While Blatt may tinker a little in training camp, the bulk of the regular season will probably feature some pretty conventional lineups and there’s no telling at this point what this team’s most successful version of itself will be. Still, it’s difficult to look up and down this roster of players who can play multiple positions and not see some fun potential five-man units. Here are some of my favorite combos:
This is the Cavs’ presumptive “best” lineup should you happen to fall on the positive side of the Waiters conversation. This is the line-up that, if it does not start games, will likely finish them. What it lacks in paint-bullying rim protecting it more than makes up for with a.) well-documented chronicling of how this team lacks a rim protector and b.) an offensive unit that features five outstanding passers, enough shooting (probably), four guys who can create their own shot and pick-and-roll pairings galore.
Last night, Team USA put on their most dominating performance of the summer so far. The American team led by 22 points after the first half and 35 points after three quarters. They were an unstoppable machine. The Dominican Republic only has one NBA player on their squad, Francisco Garcia (Al Horford is still injured), but that doesn’t explain all of this rout. Team USA is just starting to mesh perfectly, and the effects are awesome. When you check out the highlights from last night, full court passes are being flung behind the Republic’s defense, and alley-oops are prevalent enough you could actually get sick of them. It’ll take a while, but this team may wear out the alley-oop.
Over this last weekend, “The Matrix” committed to the Cavs. Shawn Dwayne Marion has been an all-star, an NBA champion, and an offensive and defensive Swiss Army knife throughout his career in the NBA. But Marion is also 36 years old, has played 15 seasons, and has just under 39,000 regular season minutes under his belt (eighth among active players). There’s no doubt that as a veteran minimum signing, Marion is worth having on the team. He’s a bargain at that price, if just for his experience and professionalism alone. But coming off a mediocre season, it’s worth exploring whether the Cavs should commit significant minutes to Marion. Is he still a solid performer, or has the game mostly passed him by?
Kyrie Irving had a candid chat with RealGM. He admitted that he has not been a leader for this Cavs team. This isn’t a surprise for Cavs fans who have witnessed Irving pout, freeze out Dion Waiters, and mentally check out. LeBron James and fellow veterans, Mike Miller and Shawn Marion, will fix Irving’s leadership issues this season, and having Irving already cognizant of them will make the process that much easier. Here’s what Irving told RealGM:
“Everybody asks me if this is my year to be a leader … I haven’t been so far though, not at all. I’ve just been a kid trying to figure it out. There’s no perfect way to be a leader, and coming in as a 19-year-old kid and having everything bearing on your shoulders, there are a lot of ups and downs. Now it’s about being the best every single day and not being afraid.
“I’m more than excited with our new veterans. I’m really excited just from the standpoint of how the locker room is going to go and how to really be a professional. I’m not saying that the veterans that we had weren’t professionals themselves, but we didn’t have enough. Given the right and wrong things to do in the league, I’ve had to learn on my own and that’s what some of us been doing.
“Now, we have guys who’ve been in the league for years, guys who’ve won championships and have had to give a piece of their game for the greater good of the team. It’s something I admire and something I’m going to learn from.”
Shawn Marion is coming to the Cavs. It’s old news now. However, people are still weighing in on what he will bring to the team. Jimmy Cook of King James Gospel kept his take on Marion very short. The Matrix brings durability, playoff experience, and great shooting. Cook also mentions that Marion played 31.7 minutes per game last season. That number will go down and his effectiveness will go up. The Cavs have hit title run Miami Heat status in that regard.
The team keeps getting guys like Mike Miller and Shawn Marion that could still be starters and big contributors for a less talented team. On the Cavs though, these guys will be role players looking to post the most efficient seasons of their entire careers.
Shawn Marion is going to sign with the Cavs. The Pacers seemed to be in the running for his services because they could offer more money than the Cavs, but they have lost out. Marion wants to play for a contender.
Sources told ESPN.com that Marion informed the Cavaliers this weekend that he intends to sign with them this month despite the fact that Cleveland can only offer him a minimum deal.
Marion is known for his goofy shooting stroke and for his ability to defend a variety of positions. He was a critical piece on the Mavericks team that won the 2011 finals and caused LeBron James to retool his game the following season.
He averaged 10.4 points a game and 6.5 rebounds a game last season. Marion will be a welcome addition to the Cavaliers offense too; he doesn’t need the ball to make an impact and always seems to get his own points without being the focal point of the offense. He has just what the Cavs need: defense and the ability to move without the ball effectively.
We have finally reached the point in the NBA dead season that the venerable Zach Lowe is breaking down Space Jam. I love cartoon Muggsy Bogues as much as the next guy, but I would much rather watch our very own Sideshow Bob take on Uncle Drew, albeit in a game with much smaller ramifications. The friendly scrimmage between Team USA and Brazil provided some real basketball relief and a delightful peak into 2014-2015 Cavalier ball.
Four points I’m thinking about the Cleveland Cavaliers…
1.) Still finding yourself on the fence about whether or not to embrace Kevin Love? Well, sipping from a frosty, ice-brewed, beachwood-aged mug of Kevin Love highlights should put some flash back in your step, mister. I’d been resisting spending too much time aboard the Love Boat this summer, but since we’re in that dangerous stretch between Summer League and Team USA games (where madness truly does lie), I thought I’d spend a minute or twenty with the Cavs presumptive 2014-15 starting power forward. And you know what? Kevin Love does all those Kevin Love things that everyone says he does. But the thing that really stuck out was how much of his 10-minutes plus of highlight footage spanning an 82-game season came on the two occasions where Love was matched up against Tristan Thompson.
Kevin Love is coming to Cleveland, LeBron James wants to stay in Cleveland, Kyrie Irving is locked up for five years, and vets are flocking to the Cavs. It’s a whole new era now after being one of the craziest off seasons for the Cavs since the King left. As an exercise in meditation and reflection, The Cavs: The Blog bloggers have crafted some heartfelt basketball related Haikus. Do you have some basketball Haikus that have been brewing in your brain during this off season? Let us hear them.
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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