Timberwolves need to get the Cavaliers’ Wiggins in trade scenario for Love

Published 11:57 pm Thursday, July 24, 2014

Column: Notes from Nashville, by Andrew Dyrdal

When LeBron James announced to the world on Friday he was “going home” and returning to the Cleveland Cavaliers, I began expecting that Kevin Love would soon be dealt to the Cavs in exchange for No. 1 pick Andrew Wiggins and some change.

It seemed like a no-brainer. Love had confirmed he was willing to sign a long-term contract in Cleveland, and the All-Star power forward would instantly make the Cavs the hands-down favorite to win the NBA Finals next season and beyond.

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James, Love and point guard Kyrie Irving would form a better Big 3 than Miami had, and that threesome won two championships and reached the Finals in four consecutive years.

As Friday went on, trade rumors predictably began to swirl, but it wasn’t Wiggins name that was mentioned in connection to a trade. Instead, the Cavs were reportedly offering Dion Waiters, Anthony Bennett and a draft pick in a deal that even David Kahn would have laughed at.

The Cavs were smart to start the bidding low and work their way up to their best offer, but that night, Wiggins played for Cleveland in their summer league game and new head coach David Blatt said the team wasn’t trading Wiggins, not even for Love.

Is that the truth, or are the Wolves and Cavs in the midst of a game of chicken?

Wiggins may very well turn into an All-Star and he’s entering his career in a best-case scenario for development being paired with LeBron. But Wiggins is only 19 years old, and there’s no guarantee he’ll ever be as good as Love is now. In fact, Wiggins would have to become Kevin Durant for it to become a lopsided trade over the long term.

James is 29 and in his prime. If he wants to win multiple championships in Cleveland, he may have to wait a few years for the team’s younger players to develop without Love.

Wiggins is a dazzling athlete and a more exciting player than Love who would be hard to part with, but when it comes to wins and losses, the Cavs’ smartest decision would be trade him to the Wolves.

According to ESPN statistician Nate Silver, the Cavs current roster is projected to win 52 games next season, which would have been the eighth most wins during the 2013-14 season. If the team traded Wiggins and center Anderson Varejao for Love, the Cavs would project to win 60 or more games, which would likely gain them home court advantage throughout the playoffs.

When LeBron announced his return in an essay on Sports Illustrated’s website, he said he was excited to develop the team’s young players, including Irving, Waiters and Tristan Thompson. Wiggins’ name was glaringly left on the list. That wasn’t a mistake.

LeBron would rather play with a proven veteran and one of the top seven players in the NBA than a rookie. We’ll just have to wait and see who blinks first.

Andrew Dyrdal’s column appears in the Tribune each Tuesday.