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Since LeBron James announced his return to Cleveland, rumors stating that Andrew Wiggins will be dealt to the Minnesota Timberwolves as part of a package for Kevin Love have gone rampant.
As of today, Wiggins has yet to officially sign his rookie contract with the Cavaliers. Some have interpreted this as an indicator that Wiggins will be dealt, but the delay really just affords the Cavaliers additional time to make small roster moves before adding Wiggins’ $5.5 million deal to their books.
Once Wiggins officially signs later this week, his $5.5 million will count against the Cavaliers’ salary-cap space and will be factored if he is traded for Love. In addition, the Cavaliers will need to wait 30 days from the day Wiggins signs to officially make any trade involving Wiggins, per league rules. However, the Cavaliers will still be able to negotiate with Minnesota, or any other team, in the meantime and agree in principle to a deal.
The Cavaliers remain in discussions for Love, but they aren’t the only team pursuing the All-Star forward. The Golden State Warriors have expressed serious interest as well, but have been reluctant throughout the talks to include shooting guard Klay Thompson. However, Basketball Insiders’ Yannis Koutroupis reports that the Warriors may have had a change of heart and are now willing to part with Thompson. It seems that Minnesota is remaining patient while the Cavaliers and Warriors bid against one another.
With three shooting guards in New York, the Knicks are reportedly looking to make a move involving J.R. Smith, Iman Shumpert or Shane Larkin, who was recently acquired from the Dallas Mavericks. However, the Knicks are not making Tim Hardaway, Jr. available in trade discussions.
Smith won the Sixth Man of the Year award in the 2012-13 season, but struggled all of last season after returning from offseason knee surgery. Smith’s numbers were down across the board in almost every major category, and he even said recently that he wouldn’t blame Knicks president Phil Jackson for trading him after what he calls the “worst year” in his NBA career. In addition to his sputtering on-court production, Smith was at times a distraction, missing the first five games of last season for violating the NBA’s drug policy, making a threatening comment to point guard Brandon Jennings on Twitter and untying opponents’ shoelaces on two occasions.
Shumpert is another guard reportedly on the table. Shumpert struggled all season to find his offensive game, averaging just 6.7 points per game and shooting just 37.8 percent from the field and 33.3 percent from three-point range. At age 23, Shumpert still has a lot of room to grow and improve his game. He is very athletic, even after tearing his ACL in 2012, and is a strong perimeter defender. Considering his age, affordable contract, defense and potential, Shumpert may be the easiest guard for the Knicks to move in a deal.
Larkin has yet to play a single NBA game for the Knicks, but is already being put on the table. Larkin was drafted 18th overall in the 2013 NBA Draft by the Atlanta Hawks, and subsequently traded to the Mavericks. He broke his ankle during a summer league game last year, and missed the start of his rookie season. He played in 48 games for the Mavericks, averaging 10.2 minutes per game.
The Detroit Pistons have yet to resolve the situation revolving restricted free agent Greg Monroe. Monroe is one of the best young big men in the league, but he plays alongside Josh Smith and Andre Drummond in a loaded frontcourt.
Similarly, the Phoenix Suns have yet to come to terms with restricted free agent point guard Eric Bledsoe. The Suns have a crowded backcourt with point guard Goran Dragic and Isaiah Thomas already locked into deals, and are reportedly unwilling to offer Bledsoe the five-year, $80 million he is seeking.
With the Suns and Bledsoe so far apart, it seems the Suns may look to Monroe as an option to shore up their frontcourt. Monroe averaged 15.2 points, 9.3 rebounds, 2.1 assists and shot 49.7 percent from the field last season. At just 23 years old, Monroe has a fluid offensive game, is a solid passer and has plenty of room to improve, which makes him a very attractive player. There have been conflicting reports as to whether the Pistons will bring Monroe back considering the amount of money invested in Smith and the fact that Drummond will demand a large contract extension in the near future.
Bledsoe and Monroe are two of the most talented free agents available, but are suffering from teams not wanting to take a risk on bidding for a restricted free agent. The market for Bledsoe has dried up, and Monroe currently remains in limbo with the Pistons.