COLUMNS

All you need is Love

Kyle Riviere
kriviere@weeklycitizen.com
Weekly Citizen Sports Editor Kyle Riviere.

Things happen pretty fast in the NBA.

One day, you're a lightweight with hopes just to get to .500 and the next, you're the prohibitive favorite in the east and on a short-list of possible world champions.

That was the exact path taken by the Cavaliers this summer. After drafting Andrew Wiggins No. 1 overall, they were hoping to just make some improvements this year and possibly even up their record after a 33-49 campaign.

Those aspirations were injected with an instant shot of adrenalin last month when LeBron James decided that there was no place like home and signed with his former team.

And now, as more time has passed, the Cavaliers have upped the ante by making a deal with the Timberwolves to bring in All-Star forward Kevin Love.

The move instantly makes them the favorites in the east and a legitimate threat to the champion Spurs for the world title but at what cost?

Nothing is official just yet. The two teams cannot complete the deal until Aug. 23 but for now, they are said to have a "handshake agreement."

The move will send the face of the Timberwolve franchise to the Cavaliers for three first-round picks--two of those picks will be the No. 1 overall selections from the last two NBA Drafts.

This year's top pick in Wiggins will be shipped away before ever playing one minute in Cleveland. Along with him, last year's top pick Anthony Bennett will be off to Minnesota and so will a first-round pick in next year's draft.

It looks like in addition to being a four-time MVP on the court, LeBron is also trying to become one of the top GMs in the league as well. It's hard to believe that he wasn't the driving force in getting the deal done.

And why not? I'm sure he doesn't want things to be like his first stint in Cleveland when it was LeBron or bust. He was forced to put the team on his back every night and be a one-man show.

After all, Magic Johnson had Kareem Abdul-Jabbar. Larry Bird had Robert Parish and Kevin McHale, Kobe and Shaq had each other and even Michael Jordan needed the help of Scottie Pippen to win six titles.

Now, LeBron will have the help of Love and arguably the best young point guard in the league in Kyrie Irving.

The formation of this new "big three" makes it a great move in the short term. Being an instant title contender was certainly out of the question with Wiggins in Cleveland and Love still unhappy in Minnesota.

There is no doubt that it's going to take some time for Wiggins to mature as a player and reach his full potential. He's just 19 years old and fresh off of a freshman campaign at Kansas.

On the other hand, Love is a six-year veteran hungry for some success after so many losing seasons with the Timberwolves.

He's a guy that will get you an automatic 20 and 10 every night. Just last year, he averaged 26 points and 13 rebounds per game.

Along with his tenacious rebounding ability, he can score from anywhere on the court. He can mix it up inside like any other near seven-footer, but he can also rain down 3-pointers.

Just Love, LeBron and Irving combined for 74 points a game last year. When you add Anderson Varejao, Mike Miller, Tristan Thompson and Dion Waiters to the mix, it's almost impossible to see anyone else coming out of the east next year--barring any unfortunate injuries.

However, that's the short term. When talking about the future, things get iffy for the Cavaliers.

Though Love is only 25 year old, he does have six years of wear on the tires. For a big man that carries a lot of weight and is not known for his athleticism, his upside won't be as bright as Wiggins--if the rookie lives up to expectations.

Wiggins is ultra-talented and ultra-athletic with a high ceiling. Before being the top pick in this year's draft, he was the No. 1 high school recruit in the country.

It may take two or three years for everything to click but when it does, he has the potential to be one of the best players in the league.

Bennett had a disastrous rookie year in Cleveland--only averaging four points a game, but just one year isn't a big enough sample size to brand him a bust.

He had enough talent to be regarded as the top pick in the draft. Maybe he'll be a late-bloomer and one day prove the naysayers wrong. We'll just have to wait and see.

And of course, we won't know until a year from now who Minnesota will pick up in the first round courtesy of the Cleveland trade. Who knows? That player might end up being a hidden gem.

So many unknowns make the trade a risky proposition in regards to the future.

If these three players take off and become elite, the Cavaliers might be forced to look back and ask, "What were we thinking? Why did we give away three young studs for one guy that has never been to the playoffs?"

But then again, if Love helps bring Cleveland a title within the next few years, I'm sure they'll act like Wiggins and Bennett never existed.