Implications for Western Conference With Love Trade Imminent


Feb 7, 2014; New Orleans, LA, USA; Minnesota Timberwolves power forward Kevin Love (42) drives toward the basket in front of New Orleans Pelicans power forward Anthony Davis (behind) in the first half at the Smoothie King Center. Mandatory Credit: Crystal LoGiudice-USA TODAY Sports

Kevin Love is expected to be traded to the Cleveland Cavaliers later this month, as soon as Andrew Wiggins is available for trade.

It’s unclear what the Cavs will be offering the Minnesota Timberwolves other than the No. 1 pick in the 2014 draft, but it’s been rumoured that the No. 1 pick from 2013, Anthony Bennett, could be involved too.

Immediately, for the Houston Rockets, it will be one more major 4-man moved out of the Conference. While the Minnesota Timberwolves were fringe contenders to land the 8th spot in the playoffs, the news that Love is headed to the Eastern Conference is still a positive one.

The Rockets dealt poorly with LaMarcus Aldridge, and with Omer Asik departed, the Rockets lack big men that can defend.

Wiggins may be a star eventually, but it stands to reason he’ll depart from Minnesota after his rookie contract expires. While that sounds negative to Timberwolves fans, the team hasn’t been able to keep a star in town in over a decade, when Kevin Garnett was the franchise player. If Wiggins stayed, the Wolves would be a team to be reckoned with.

The Chicago Bulls and Golden State Warriors have also postured for Kevin Love, but it has been rumored that the Cavs offer is the preference for Minnesota. It seems as though the Love trade could have potentially weakened Golden State by splitting up “The Splash Brothers” and trading a two-time All-Star David Lee. The Wolves would be able to remain competitive, whereas going with Wiggins does indeed indicate a rebuild.

Moreover, there is the issue of Ricky Rubio wanting a max-contract, and maybe after he sees the market doesn’t dictate such a contract, he may re-sign with the Wolves. It’s really anyone’s guess though, because it stands to reason that Rubio is sick of not making the playoffs, too.

Mar 18, 2014; Cleveland, OH, USA; Miami Heat forward LeBron James (6) talks to Cleveland Cavaliers forward Tristan Thompson (13) after a 100-96 Heat win at Quicken Loans Arena. Mandatory Credit: David Richard-USA TODAY Sports

While all this only superficially affects Houston’s standing in the West, it is interesting to see power shifts occur in the NBA. In Cleveland, Love will have both LeBron James and a host of big men (Tristan Thompson and Anderson Varejao) to protect the rim if Love rotates slowly. Love is also one of the best outlet passers in the NBA, and feeding the ball to a cherry picking James will generate a lot of easy buckets.

Mar 23, 2014; St. Louis, MO, USA; Kansas Jayhawks guard Andrew Wiggins (22) lays the ball up past Stanford Cardinal forward/center John Gage (40) during the second half in the third round of the 2014 NCAA Men

It’s easy to understand why the Cavs are seeking Love, and also why the Wolves want Wiggins in return. Klay Thompson is unlikely to be a franchise talent, and Lee is not. Wiggins offers the best chance to land a top-5 player in the league, if he develops as many expect him to. Even if it doesn’t work out, it was the best chance to attract other stars to play in Minnesota.