LeBron James helped the Cavaliers land Kevin Love in the most obvious ways.
By signing in Cleveland, LeBron turned the franchise into a desirable destination for star players. He even personally coaxed Love into coming. (Yes, the Timberwolves could trade Love wherever he wanted, but for the most part, teams weren’t going to make quality offers without knowing Love wanted to join them.)
But LeBron also helped the Cavaliers’ Love bid in more subtle ways.
When he left in 2010, LeBron set up the Cavaliers to be bad enough to win the lottery three times in four years. Two of those No. 1 picks – Andrew Wiggins and Anthony Bennett – will go to Minnesota in the trade, and the other – Kyrie Irving – helps make Cleveland appealing to Love.
LeBron also went to the Heat via a sign-and-trade. It got him more money, something not possible under the current Collective Bargaining Agreement. It also netted the Cavaliers two first rounders and two second rounders.
One of those first rounders – top-10 protected in 2015 and 2016, unprotected in 2017 – is still pending. It just won’t be going to Cleveland anymore.
Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo Sports:
That has to rub salt in the wound of already-salty Heat fans.
Cleveland also has the Grizzlies’ first-round pick (top-five and 15-30 protected in 2015 and 2016, top-five protected in 2017 and 2018 and unprotected in 2019) and the lesser of its own and the Bulls’ 2015 first rounder (if the Cavaliers make the playoffs; otherwise they keep their own pick).
The Cavaliers/Bulls pick clearly has the lowest value, and depending how you evaluate Memphis, the other two are close. Based on how these negotiations went, I bet Flip Saunders got his choice.
With Dwyane Wade, Chris Bosh and Luol Deng, the Heat should avoid one of the NBA’s 10 worst records, meaning they’d send their pick to Minnesota this season. But Miami also shouldn’t be too good to avoid that pick falling into the late 20s.
LeBron leaving the Heat made that pick more valuable – just valuable enough to land him a star teammate in Cleveland.