Would you give up Andrew Wiggins for Kevin Love? This question may linger with the Cleveland Cavaliers until next season's trade deadline; it's up to the Minnesota Timberwolves to decide when to pull the trigger on a proposed deal. But if the Cavs value LeBron James' long-term health as much as winning immediately, they would be better off holding onto Wiggins.
According to Brian Windhorst of ESPN (h/t Matt Moore of CBS Sports), the Cavs are on the verge of signing their No. 1 overall pick, meaning they wouldn't be able to trade him for the next 30 days after he signs. However, as Moore explains, "Having to wait 30 days wouldn't mean that the deal is precluded from happening. They can work throughout the period to reach a deal, or just agree to one and wait 30 days."
Holding on to Wiggins would also allow the Cavs to be more flexible in their free-agent signings. As Moore described, the reported Wiggins deal would be for about $5.5 million per year. According to HoopsHype, Kevin Love is set to make a little over $15 million next season.
Speaking of Love's contract, he has a player option after next season. If Love chooses so, he can become a free agent and sign with Cleveland. In that case, Wiggins and Love would both be Cavaliers.
Before Cleveland and Minnesota ever agree to terms on dealing Andrew Wiggins for Kevin Love, the Cavs should take a few other things into consideration.
In regards to LeBron James' long-term health, having Wiggins as a "Pippen to his Jordan" would vastly extend James' career. Here's what DraftExpress had to say about Wiggins' defensive potential:
Defensively, Wiggins is already extremely effective. His combination of size, length, lateral quickness and solid intensity gives him the potential to develop into a multi-positional lockdown perimeter defender in the NBA, particularly as he matures and gets stronger.
James has played roughly 40,000 NBA minutes throughout his 11 year career. If Wiggins is traded, who will guard the best player on the other team? James will, just as he did in Miami.
A large reason James made his return home has a lot to do with the prospect of carrying an aging Miami roster versus playing with fresh legs in Cleveland. With the youthful legs of Wiggins, Kyrie Irving, Anthony Bennett, Dion Waiters and Tristan Thompson, James can rest more during the regular season.
As Kurt Helin of ProBasketballTalk reported:
Report: Cavaliers, Timberwolves still talking Kevin Love for Andrew Wiggins trade, with Bennett also in now http://t.co/koOE4H9S8t— Kurt Helin (@basketballtalk) July 18, 2014
If the Cavaliers trade three No. 1 picks (Wiggins, Bennett and next year's first-rounder) for Kevin Love, they're breaking the bank. On top of Love's missed games, Irving has also had injury issues in the past. At least with Wiggins and Bennett, James has two promising prospects to mold and lean upon in case injuries hit.
At 25 years old, Kevin Love is by no means old. He is, however, a liability to play an entire season. For argument's sake, let's say Love plays another eight years at a high level. How many of those will he stay healthy for? History says somewhere around four or five.
At 19 years old, Wiggins is just a baby in NBA years. Given Love's durability issues, the Cavs may want to think twice before giving up a young blue-chip prospect. The three-time All-Star has played more than 60 games in a season just three of the six years he's played in the league.
The Cavs have no need to make a quick decision. They should wait until the trade deadline and see what kind of offers they are competing with. If Wiggins doesn't live up to their expectations, then they can trade him and feel confident in their decision.
Signing Kevin Love will help the Cavs win immediately. Holding onto Wiggins allows the team to compete now and still prolong the career of James. Also, playing in the Eastern Conference cannot be overstated. Even without Love, the Cavaliers will have a great shot at making the Finals next season. With Wiggins, they could be contenders for the next decade.