Trade Grades: Cavs get all the love

Kevin Love and Andrew Wiggins

The deal

Cleveland Cavaliers get: Forward Kevin Love

Minnesota Timberwolves get: Guard/forward Andrew Wiggins, forward Anthony Bennett, forward Thaddeus Young and a $6.3 million trade exception.

Philadelphia 76ers get: Luc Richard Mbah A Moute, Alexey Shved, a future first-round pick (Miami's 2015 protected first-round pick)


Cleveland: A

The history of trades involving superstars is clear: The team getting the star almost always wins. This particular trade is somewhat unique because of the quality of the player heading the other direction. In Wiggins, the Cavaliers are giving up the No. 1 pick in what was considered a loaded draft, a player our Chad Ford called one of the 10 best draft prospects of the past 15 years. And this deal should still be a steal for Cleveland.

It was easy to fall in love with the idea of Wiggins growing into the role of LeBron James' sidekick on the wing, taking the tougher defensive assignment and burning teams that put their best defender on James. But the timing wasn't quite right. Based on his translated college stats, Wiggins doesn't figure to be an immediate help on offense. If Wiggins ever does become a Scottie Pippen-type player -- and his performance at Kansas raised serious doubts about his potential to create his own offense at a star level -- it won't be until James is well into his 30s.

The Cavaliers' window to win is now, while James is the league's best player, and Love's versatility makes him one of the best possible offensive complements for the four-time MVP. Further, it's hardly like Cleveland is sacrificing its future by dealing for a 25-year-old player. Health aside, Love is a sure thing, which is something that can't be said of Wiggins. That's why I estimated earlier this offseason that Love's trade value -- the value of his performance minus his likely salary -- was far greater than the value of the typical No. 1 pick.

There is an important caveat to that analysis: It assumes that Love re-signs with the Cavaliers, which isn't yet a sure thing. The risk Cleveland is taking here is that things unexpectedly go south and this becomes a repeat of one of the few trades for a superstar gone bust in recent years:  Dwight Howard to the L.A. Lakers. In that scenario, giving up Wiggins would be a disaster for the Cavaliers.

Love must hit free agency rather than signing a contract extension to maximize his salary, and it doesn't appear he'll opt in to the final season of his contract (2015-16) as part of the trade, which would have given Cleveland some more comfort and certainty about keeping him. Still, the odds of Love leaving a team that has James appear long, and this is a small risk the Cavaliers absolutely should have taken.

Beyond Wiggins, Cleveland sacrificed relatively little. The Cavaliers still have their 2015 first-round pick, as well as one on the way from the Memphis Grizzlies at some point in the future.

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