As soon as the Cavaliers offered Andrew Wiggins in a Kevin Love trade, they should have become instant favorites to land the disgruntled Minnesota star.
It took longer than it should have, but eventually the Timberwolves came around.
Now, every sign points toward Cleveland.
The Cavaliers seem OK with acquiring Love even if he doesn’t opt in, and they’ve also added non-guaranteed contracts to grease a larger deal. Anthony Bennett, who shares an agent with Love, has even stopped playing potentially in anticipation of a trade.
Every tea leaf points to Cleveland over other potential trade partners. The Celtics have moved on, and the Bulls’ offer wasn’t that strong. Neither was the Warriors’, and without Klay Thompson, their weaker package won’t even tempt Minnesota.
As a result, the Timberwolves and Cavaliers are exactly in a place that makes sense – moving directly toward a deal.
Marc Stein and Brian Windhorst of ESPN:
sources this week have described the Cavs as the only team currently in contention for Love. Sources say the Chicago Bulls are increasingly pessimistic about their chances of trumping Cleveland’s offer, while the Golden State Warriors remain unwilling to bend on their longstanding refusal to surrender Klay Thompson in a deal for Love.
numerous league insiders — some of whom are gathered in Las Vegas for this week’s Team USA training camp — have begun to describe a Love-to-Cleveland trade as a “when” transaction as opposed to an “if.”
one source said Wednesday that James himself already is “looking forward” to the prospect of welcoming the All-Star power forward as his newest teammate.
Yet league officials are adamant that there can be no acknowledgement of a trade, from either the Wolves or the Cavaliers, until the 30 days pass from Wiggins’ signing.
There are still details to work out.
Will it become a three-team trade (maybe with Thaddeus Young headed to Minnesota)? Will Love opt in as a condition of the trade? Will Kevin Martin and J.J. Barea, two players the Timberwolves want to dump, also be included in the trade?
But that’s all window dressing, and there’s time for the teams to negotiate those questions. Wiggins can’t be traded until Aug. 23.
The crux of the trade – Wiggins, Bennett and a first-round pick for Love – already seems established.
At this point, it seems more likely than not LeBron James will get his wish and team up with Love next season.