The Minnesota Timberwolves have agreed in principle to a trade that would send star power forward Kevin Love to the Cleveland Cavaliers in exchange for 2014 first-overall draft pick Andrew Wiggins, 2013 first-overall pick Anthony Bennett and a protected first round pick in 2015, Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo Sports reports. In addition, Love, who can opt out of his current contract after the 2014-15 NBA season, has reportedly agreed to a long-term extension with the Cavaliers.
Love will reportedly sign a five-year, $120 million contract with Cleveland after next season. The agreement contradicts previous reports that suggested that Love would not make a long-term commitment to any team that traded for him this offseason.
Despite the agreement in principle, the Love trade cannot be finalized until Aug. 23. Wiggins signed a rookie contract with the Cavaliers on July 24 and cannot be traded within a month of that transaction. Furthermore, because the trade has yet to be formally completed, either the Timberwolves or the Cavaliers can pull out of the deal without repercussion, Wojnarowski notes. Furthermore, neither franchise plans to publicly acknowledge the trade until it is finalized.
Love made it clear to Timberwolves management this offseason that he would like to be traded. Minnesota had helped to free additional cap space by including the contracts of J.J. Barea, Alexey Shved or Luc Mbah a Moute in a potential trade, but ultimately agreed to Cleveland’s offer, league sources said.
The Wiggins-for-Love trade will likely be the final major move in an offseason that restructured the NBA’s landscape. Even before the addition of Love, the Cavaliers were the odds-on favorite to win the 2015 NBA title. Love will team up with four-time NBA MVP LeBron James -- who left the Miami Heat to sign with Cleveland in July – as well as All-Star point guard Kyrie Irving to form one of the most dynamic trios in the league.
Unlike James, fellow superstar free agents Carmelo Anthony and Chris Bosh chose to re-sign with their teams – the New York Knicks and the Miami Heat, respectively. Faced with the unenviable task of replacing James’ production, the Heat opted to re-sign aging guard Dwyane Wade and add free agents Luol Deng, Josh McRoberts and Danny Granger.
The biggest challenge to Cleveland’s Eastern Conference supremacy could come from a Chicago Bulls team that added several talented players to an already-solid roster. The team signed former NBA champion Pau Gasol to play alongside stalwart defender Joakim Noah in the frontcourt, and added forwards Doug McDermott and Nikola Mirotic to provide support from the bench. Meanwhile, former league MVP Derrick Rose appears to finally be close to full strength after a slew of knee injuries over the last few years.