It’s all but certain that Kevin Love will be traded to the Cavaliers just as soon as the rookie contract signed by Andrew Wiggins allows the deal to go through, but some recently reported details could possibly place the entire thing in jeopardy if it can be proven that an illegal agreement (in terms of the league’s collective bargaining agreement) is already in place.
Both teams have been careful not to say too much, lest the league come down on them with severe consequences for working outside of the rules. But if Love has in fact implicitly agreed to re-sign in Cleveland as has been reported, that may be an issue that the league office has no choice but to address.
But sources say that the Cavs and Wolves, knowing that league officials are monitoring this transaction closely, have been careful not to make any public acknowledgments that trade details have already been agreed to. That’s because Wiggins remains ineligible to move moved until 30 days pass from the signing his rookie contract.
The Cavs were granted permission last month by Minnesota to speak to Love and his representatives in an introductory fashion, sources say, while James and Love have also been in direct contact about their long-term intentions of playing together in recent weeks. But sources insist that no agreement for Love to sign an extension in Cleveland next summer when he can become a free agent is in place.
Under NBA rules, such an agreement would be illegal and, if proven, potentially could be grounds for the league to block this trade and dole out punishment to both teams. The Wolves were infamously sanctioned heavily in 2000 after it was discovered that the club had promised a lucrative future contract — in writing — to Joe Smith, incurring a fine of $3.5 million and the loss of four first-round picks as well as suspensions for owner Glen Taylor and then-GM Kevin McHale.
Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo Sports initially reported that “Cleveland is making the deal with Minnesota with a firm agreement Love will opt out of his contract in 2015 and re-sign with the Cavaliers on a five-year, $120 million-plus contract extension.” That’s the point of contention that could potentially allow the league to step in, but good luck proving it in any capacity.
No one’s stupid enough to put something like that in writing this time, and barring a ridiculous out-of-place statement from one of the deal’s principles, no matter what Love’s intentions might be, there will be no way to prove that something was already in place before the trade was executed.