November 22, 2014

Medina
Cloudy
44°F

Rick Noland: Cavs need to take next step, get Kevin Love

Minnesota Timberwolves forward Kevin Love works the ball as Miami Heat center Chris Bosh defends.  (AP Photo/Alan Diaz, File)

Minnesota Timberwolves forward Kevin Love works the ball as Miami Heat center Chris Bosh defends. (AP Photo/Alan Diaz, File)

If I were Cavaliers general manager David Griffin, I’d do everything in my power to acquire Minnesota power forward Kevin Love — without trading 2014 No. 1 overall draft pick Andrew Wiggins. But if I absolutely had to trade Wiggins, I would — at a later date.

How’s that for straddling the fence?

It may seem wishy-washy, but that’s the absolute right approach. It’s also the exact approach I believe Griffin and the Cavs are taking at the moment.

Kudos to them.

At this time, there is no reason for Cleveland to outbid itself. Love has made it clear he will not re-sign with Minnesota following the 2014-15 season. He’s also made it clear — at least to national reporters — that he’d be perfectly willing to re-up with the Cavs now that LeBron James is in town.

So offer the Timberwolves a package of Dion Waiters, who’s not exactly thrilled about the possibility of coming off the bench in Cleveland; Tristan Thompson, who is serviceable but not nearly as good as some people think; and Anthony Bennett, who is in much better shape than he was a year ago but is not exactly tearing up the Las Vegas Summer League. Heck, throw in a first-round pick if it has to be done.

Do not, however, include Wiggins. Not now, anyway.

At the moment, this is a game of chicken, but the Timberwolves are in a Volkswagen. The Cavs have, at the very least, a Ford F-150. In a couple of months, they may have a Mack Truck.

If Golden State, Love’s other primary pursuer at the moment, sweetens the pot, as it was rumored to be doing Tuesday, then the Cavs might have to reconsider.

That could be today, tomorrow or a week or month from now, but until it occurs, Cleveland should stick to its guns.

Just 19, the 6-foot-8 Wiggins has the potential to be a very, very good NBA player. Maybe even a great one.

I’m in no way eager to give him up if I’m the Cavs, but if it has to be done, it has to be done.

That’s because the 6-10, 260-pound Love, who doesn’t turn 26 until Sept. 7, is already a great player and will continue to be so for at least six more years.

Now entering his seventh NBA season, Love averaged 26.1 points, 12.5 rebounds and 4.4 assists while playing 77 games last season. For his career, he has averaged 19.2 points, 8.5 rebounds and 2.5 assists.

Love is a three-time All-Star who knows how to play the game, a phenomenal rebounder and owns one of the best outlet passes since the days of Wes Unseld. He’s shot .451 from the field, .362 on 3-pointers and .815 from the line for his career.

For those who worry Love is injury prone, look at the facts: He missed one game as a rookie, 22 in his second season, nine in his third and 11 in his fourth. Only in 2012-13, when he fractured his right hand on two occasions and played in just 18 games, did he miss significant time.

That’s why, if the Cavs’ hand is forced, they should trade a potentially great player in Wiggins for a proven one in Love. If it gets to that point, not doing so would be akin to the Indians failing to trade Jaret Wright for Pedro Martinez.

With James and Kyrie Irving on the roster, adding Love would give Cleveland a better Big Three than Miami had in James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh. The latter group won two titles and reached the NBA Finals four straight seasons.

James, Irving and Love would also form a better Big Three than Boston had in Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce and Ray Allen. That group led the Celtics to a title in 2008 and to the NBA finals in 2010.

That’s why, if the Cavs have to trade Wiggins in order to get Love, they should do it. But they shouldn’t do it unless there is no other option.

Contact Rick Noland at (330) 721-4061 or rnoland@medina-gazette.com. Fan him on Facebook and follow him on Twitter @RickNoland.