Assessing Andrew Wiggins for Kevin Love Trade Scenarios

Andrew Wiggins, future Timberwolf?

Andrew Wiggins, future Timberwolf?


Bill Simmons posted a doozy on Grantland today right before lunch on the merits of a trade involving Kevin Love to Cleveland for a package centered around this year’s #1 overall pick, Andrew Wiggins.

All of Grantland’s NBA hitters weighed in on Love-Wiggins: Simmons. Sharp. Trillion. netw3rk, Klosterman (does he still work there?).

I was pretty stoked, at least by what-I-read-over-lunch standards. But after I read it, I left the cafeteria pissed off.

Andy G:So I left lunch angry. Simmons — the featured author of the piece (and most popular NBA writer by a factor of about 100) made the case for why the Cavs should NOT trade Wiggins for Love. Not yet at least.  And it was total bullshit reasoning, bending reality to fit theories that don’t make any real sense.

He compared Wiggins to Scottie Pippen. Like, the one who played with MJ and won titles. (Eds note: that Pip once finished 3rd in MVP voting.) He said that the Cavs could hold out and the Bennett-Waiters Poo Poo Platter will remain the best deal the Wolves can get for Love.  He said the Cavs should let Wiggins audition as LeBron’s teammate for a while… as if the Wolves would — or should — let that happen.  It implies or just outright states that the Wolves can only have Andrew Wiggins The Rookie for Kevin Love The Superstar if Wiggins goes out and proves himself a disappointment.

I get why he was doing it. He, as a basketball fan, would like to see the LeBron-Wiggins combo. I think that’s reasonable. But the notion that it is in any way the responsible choice over the Kyrie-LeBron-Love Asskicker 3000 is crazy talk on every level.

I haven’t let a Simmons-disagreement get me going like this in a long time — probably since his Kobe-hating days of the mid-aughts.

But all was well with one tweet out of Cleveland that went viral.

And I could breathe easy again.

Later, ESPN’s Chris Broussard verified the report with his #sources:

And, finally, the Woj Bomb we all needed to be absolutely sure:

It all came together because LeBron said so. And he’s the King.

So after seeing the news that both

  1. LeBron reached out to Love and wants to be his teammate; and
  2. The Cavs are making Wiggins available for Love. Because LeBron.

has me very excited. Excited and relieved… well, sort of relieved.

I think this deal is going to get done.

It’s going to get done, right?

Patrick J: Yes. You put it well. It’s the only deal that makes perfect sense for both teams.

Love to GSW seems to fulfill that criterion – for GSW. BUT…the Dubs don’t seem to see it that way: The Warriors are reportedly *still* unwilling to part with a Very Nice Shooting Guard, Klay Thompson, to reel in Love, who would complement Warriors star Stephen Curry better than perhaps any other NBA player, and vice-versa.

We shouldn’t see it that way either. Lee/Thompson/Barnes just isn’t that great of a return on Love. Lee is inferior on offense to Love, and he’s a leaky sieve on defense. Harrison Barnes has potential, but it’s mostly limited to his defense. He’ll never be a scorer in this League, and his ceiling is as an athletic “three and D” guy, which is another phrase for “solid role player.” Klay Thompson is a Very Nice Shooting Guard. But, like Lee, he has none of the upside or ability that could result in the Wolves looking back in five years on the trade they ultimately make, and saying, “We really got equal value back when we gave up a great player in Kevin Love.”

Andrew Wiggins’ upside – however uncertain it is that he’ll reach it – justifies such a trade. And it isn’t only the Wolves that need to make this deal to justify a controversial personnel decision.

The Cavaliers have a lot of LeBron Maintenance to do, even though they just signed him. That’s where Kevin Love comes in.

The Cavaliers signed LeBron with the tacit or explicit understanding that the Cavaliers were going to be aggressively pursuing titles if LeBron would sign with Cleveland. LeBron wouldn’t have signed with them otherwise.

Do you think Kyrie-Wiggins-James-Thompson-Varejao (for 58 games) is enough for Cleveland to do that, THIS YEAR? No? Me neither. They’ll win 52 – maybe 53 – games in a weak Eastern Conference and exit after the second round of the playoffs. In a bad Eastern Conference.

The reason is because they would lack a true “Big 3” without Love. Anthony Bennett and Andrew Wiggins are “one year from being one-year away.” So you have Kyrie, LeBron, and a bunch of fill-ins who, while valuable in their own ways, do not have the ability to singlehandedly influence a team’s championship prospects.

Kevin Love has that.

He’s a top-10 player in the NBA. Dude gets sick NUMB#RS. He’s a perfect fit with LeBron and Irving. David Blatt will be their coach. Is that not championship stuff? LeBron seems to think so – and he’s reportedly reached out to Kevin Love to help make Love-to-Cleveland happen.

Love-to-Cleveland isn’t happening without Wiggins-to-’Sota. That means Wiggins-to-’Sota is happening. Perhaps soon.

That’s my read of the situation. What’s your take? Agree or disagree? And how soon could a trade actually happen?

Andy G:  I agree. It’s what’s being reported and – as importantly – it’s what makes sense.

I imagine the deal gets done over the weekend. The Cavs don’t want their recently drafted Number 1 [Overall] Pick[s] out there dangling on the trade block for too long. And, perhaps more importantly, they don’t want the agents of recently drafted Number 1 Overall Picks getting pissed off that their big clients are getting dangled on the trade block for weeks on end.

Both teams have the incentive to get this deal completed. Cavs because LeBron and #RINGZ. Wolves because it’s the best deal they will ever get. (And better than any deal that any team ever gets, in this type of scenario.)

That leaves the details. In this case, the details require the Cavs to add substantially more salary to their outgoing package to offset Love’s incoming $15 Million/year.

The names we’ve heard tossed around are Anthony Bennett (PDWolves fave, assuming he ever gets in basketball shape) and Dion Waiters (Patrick J fave).

What will — or what *should* — the final deal look like?

Patrick J: I’d really, *REALLY*, like to get rid of Kevin Martin, his uncool game, his no defense-playing habit, and his stanky-leg kahntract at the same time Love is traded. Two birds with one stone, albeit for different reasons. Nevertheless, you do it, and you’re #winning.

About 90 minutes after the LeBron-to-Cleveland news broke, friend of the blog @UStreetTDG was on the story. It started with this tweet:

Then he concocted a Love-to-Cleveland trade proposal I kind of liked. It looked something like this:

Cavs get:

  • Kevin Love
  • Kevin Martin

Wolves get:

  • Andrew Wiggins
  • Dion Waiters
  • Anthony Bennett or Tristan Thompson (or both)

Money considerations

Cavs (Wolves obviously the inverse)

Total Salary incoming:  22.5

Total Salary leaving: 19.2m

To my knowledge neither the Wolves nor the Cavs paid the tax last year. Consequently, I believe that either team can swap players individually such that they can take on value + 5m. Even if this is not true, both teams can send salary such that the maximum incoming salary is 125% + 100k. I’m basing this reading off . The sticking point salary wise is whether the Wolves could offload Barea/Shved. I’m inclined to think they can’t based on salary, to say nothing of Cleveland’s willingness.

Cavaliers cap hits over the next two years

Kevin Love (15.7m)

  • This is a duh, but to reiterate a smattering of the many reasons: Top 8 player in the league. Pairs very nicely with Varejao. Is presumably no longer put off by the idea of playing in a city whose rivers catch on fire.
  • Wolves get assets for a player who is leaving anyway. Wolves’ fans who dislike Love have the pleasure of seeing him go to a city whose rivers catch on fire.
  • Note, this could potentially turn into some kind of sign and trade. I’m not sure on the exact implementation, but Love stands to get the most money from a 3 year sign and trade extension. That may change the math, though it’s unlikely to alter it in such a way that the trade can’t be completed.

Kevin Martin (6.8m, 7.1m)

  • This is the hard selling point but…I guess the Cavs need more shooting. In a world where K-Love is the stretch 4, Lebron is orchestrating from the post, and Kyrie is driving everywhere, bringing in a player whose sole redeeming quality is 3pt shooting is a benefit. Plus they need a 2 guard if they get rid of Waiters.
  • For the Wolves, dumping Kevin Martin seems to have been the hold up for the Warriors trade. The contract is awful, and he’s terrible on defense. My understanding so far has been that Kevin Martin has to be included in the trade.

In the event i’m misreading the rules and this is actually allowable

(Eds. Note: We’re pretty sure it isn’t.)

JJ Barea (4.5m)

  • It’s probably not actually going to happen because this is dependent on 1. The Cavs’ feelings on Della Della DellaMayPlayPointGuardForUs and 2. How the Wolves see Zach Levine and 3. Contract math which may be just outside of the range. Nonetheless the Cavs get a player who occasionally looks like PG to back up Kyrie.
  • This could also be Shved, especially if Dave Blatt is still high on him. I would be totally fine with that as well.

Wolves Get

Andrew Wiggins (4.5, 4.7, Team Options)

  • Duh, but to reiterate this deal does not happen without the Wolves getting a potential all-star asset. Wiggins is a great prospect, and the Cavs were going to part with the #1 pick for Love before Lebron showed up. There is zero reason that line of reasoning has changed. Wiggins and Bron also play the same position, though Wiggins may potentially become a very big 2 in the League.

DION WAITERS! (4.1, 5.1 [ETO])

T. Thompson (5.1, 6.7m [Qualifying offer )

A. Bennett (5.5, 5.8 [ETO])

Either player is a replacement for the 4. For the Wolves to send the above sheet to work salary wise, both of the following players need to be included from Cleveland. I suspect the Cavs would balk at both leaving, and potentially either one, in which case Kevin Martin has to stay. I prefer Bennett on potential, and in the off chance he terminates and resigns elsewhere after next season, the Wolves get more cap room.

Patrick J:

/Wipes sweat from brow

I’d be all in favor of this deal, though I don’t think Waiters would be a part of it. Given the paucity of Wolves bigs–in particularly if they would end up having to include Gorgui in a Wiggins + change kind of deal–Anderson Varejao’s skills and contract might make it palatable to complete. I think Varejao, who was once overrated, is now underrated. He’s really huge. Huger than he looks on television. And he’s really good at basketball. Sign up here.

So, let’s call that a “dream scenario” for the Wolves. What do you think is realistic?

Andy G: (Barry Egan voice) Yeeaah nooo.

As much as I’d love to see Martin leave (and who knows, maybe Flip’ll find a way in a separate move — he is on a roll, it seems) this deal is going to amount to:

Love + Cheap Contracts


Wiggins + Medium-size Contracts (aka Kahntracts)


The first question is who else comes with Wiggins. I assume Anthony Bennett for the salary unload, and because he plays the exact same position as K-Love. Swapping power forwards makes sense for both teams, here. From there, I suppose the Cavs would almost have to include Waiters and Thompson; again, for their salaries. (The rest of Cleveland’s roster is made up of Irving and Varejao (guys they want to keep for win-now mode) and salaries so negligible they wouldn’t help faciliate the trade.)

Here’s one that would be great for the Wolves:

Cleveland takes back Ronny for a little bit of cheap frontcourt depth, and Glenn Robinson III for a very-cheap salary for the next few seasons, when making cap room around three max guys is difficult.

But the Million Dollar Question that I have is this:

What if Cleveland demands that Gorgui Dieng be included in a Love-Wiggins swap? (Eds note: His small salary would easily fit in, much like Ronny’s does in the above hypothetical.)

I’ve beaten this dead horse, but I think they should do everything they possibly can to make that happen.

If, at the 11th hour, the take-it-or-leave it offer is Wiggins-Waiters-Bennett-Thompson-picks for Love & Gorgui…

Do you say yes or no?

Patrick J: I guess it boils down to whether you believe Gorgui will be the kind of player who can elevate a playoff team. Because if he isn’t – if he’d be a “nice to have” kind of player and not a “this guy can swing any game” kind of player – you still need to gamble on the best possible talent available.

That talent is Andrew Wiggins. So you say yes.

Wiggins might well end up falling short of the hyperbolic Kobe, T-Mac, young Vince Carter, et al., projections that he was shackled with in his senior season of high school and his freshman year of college.

What matters, however, is that he has that rare potential that appears maybe once a year, on a good year.

The Wolves won’t go anywhere with Rubio-Lee or Rubio-Thompson as their best one-two punch. Slouching toward permanent mediocrity is not my preferred plan of action. They could go somewhere with Rubio-Wiggins. To do that, you give up a bit more, if you have to, in order to get Wiggins.

Andy G: Yeah, I would too, begrudgingly. Here’s my reasoning:

  • Gorgui’s super-cheap salary is more valuable to an expensive-star-studded squad like the one Cleveland will have than it is to Minnesota, who (post-trade) will be rebuilding and purposefully avoiding big salaries that, in turn, require bargain shopping to fill out the roster.
  • The cheapness of that salary doesn’t really do anything for the Post-Love Wolves. They won’t be hunting expensive free agents because they’ll be trying to rebuild through the draft (for at least one year; maybe two or three.)
  • By the time the Wolves (hopefully) are trying to move deep into the playoffs, Gorgui will have re-upped for an eight-figure sum of money. And that’s if he continues to develop.

So, if the question becomes “Gorgui or Wiggins?” (since we’re losing Love either way) then the Wolves have to view it in the lens of searching for a superstar. And I personally believe Wiggins has a better chance of making it there than Gorgui does.

But, obviously, the Wolves should do all they can to execute a Love-for-Wiggins swap while keeping Dieng and the rest of the team’s best remaining assets.



While you wait for a trade to happen, here’s some Wiggins mixtape to pregame to:


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