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NBA AM: Who Wins The Kevin Love Deal?

Cleveland, Minnesota and Philadelphia each benefit from this summer’s blockbuster move. But which team will ultimately win it?

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Blockbuster deal seems to benefit all teams involved, but who will ultimately win it?

Four-time MVP LeBron James’ decision to bolt from Miami and rejoin the Cleveland Cavaliers shifted the balance of power, not only in the Eastern Conference, but the entire league. Since James’ decision, the Cavaliers have also been able to lure established veterans Shawn Marion, James Jones and Mike Miller to Cleveland via free agency. But the biggest move the franchise has been able to negotiate this summer, outside of James’ autograph on a new deal, is potentially acquiring All-Star forward Kevin Love from the Minnesota Timberwolves. With Love in the fold the Cavaliers have a top five trio along with James and emerging guard Kyrie Irving.

However, Love didn’t come cheap.

The Cavaliers will have to part ways with this year’s No. 1 overall pick, Andrew Wiggins, to complete the deal. Cleveland will also deal 2013 No. 1 overall pick Anthony Bennett in the package.  According to NBA rules, the deal cannot become official until August 23, which represents the 30-day waiting period since Wiggins signed his rookie deal.

The Minneapolis Star Tribune confirmed the entire trade package on Thursday night, which included the Philadelphia 76ers in the mix. It isn’t immediately known whether the package will be one three-way deal or separate transactions, but here is the breakdown when the smoke clears:

Cleveland Cavaliers add: Kevin Love
Cleveland Cavaliers lose: Andrew Wiggins, Anthony Bennett and 2015 first round pick (Miami)

Minnesota Timberwolves add: Andrew Wiggins, Anthony Bennett, Thaddeus Young and trade exception
Minnesota Timberwolves lose: Kevin Love, Alexey Shved and Luc Mbah a Moute

Philadelphia 76ers add: 2015 first round pick (from CLE via MIA), Alexey Shved and Luc Mbah a Moute
Philadelphia 76ers lose: Thaddeus Young

What the deal ultimately means for Minnesota

On paper, the T’Wolves were able to secure a solid package for the disgruntled Love, who previously made it clear he wanted out of Minnesota. The franchise was able to secure a package containing an established asset in Young, who is ready to contribute from day one, along with the last two No. 1 overall picks (Wiggins and Bennett) and a valuable trade exception believed to be worth $4 million.

Young, a seven-year veteran, averaged 17.9 points and six rebounds in 79 games for Philadelphia last season and should immediately be able to step into the starting lineup in Minnesota. Young has been the target of trade rumors since the beginning of last season with the 76ers embracing a rebuilding projected heavily focused on youth. The former Georgia Tech standout has two years and $19.5 million remaining on his current deal. Young holds an early termination option for next season and could choose to become an unrestricted free agent next summer.

The T’Wolves have not reached the playoffs since 2004, when the franchise was eliminated in the Western Conference Finals.

What the deal ultimately means for Philadelphia

With the departure of Thaddeus Young and the arrival of expiring contracts held by Alexey Shved and Luc Mbah a Moute the team will net an additional $9.1 million in cap space next summer. The team also acquires Miami’s 2015 first round pick, which could prove to be more valuable than in years past with LeBron James leaving the HEAT and headed to Cleveland.

Mbah a Moute is also a native of Cameroon much like the Sixers’ 2014 lottery pick Joel Embiid. Mbah a Moute has mentored Embiid for years. This move is good for the young big man, and the veteran is expected to help ease the professional transition for the talented prospected who may miss a chunk of his rookie season rehabbing from foot surgery.

What the deal ultimately means for Cleveland

Without question, the addition of LeBron James and Kevin Love immediately puts the Cleveland Cavaliers in title contention discussions headed into training camp. The presence of All-Star guard Kyrie Irving already on the roster solidifies the trio.

However, chemistry is often one of the most underrated dynamics of team building in the NBA.

Irving has spent the last three seasons being groomed to be the face of the franchise in Cleveland. Now he shifts to second (or arguably third) in the hierarchy. Likewise Love shifts from being the man in Minnesota for years to having to adjust his role. Lastly, James goes from playing with a core group who understood what it took to win in Miami to playing with two sidekicks who have yet to taste the playoffs in their respective careers.

The trade(s) appears to help all three teams involved. Minnesota adds talented players with huge upsides, a solid veteran and a trade exception. Cleveland pushes itself into the title picture immediately. Philadelphia clears more cap space and acquires a first round pick for another asset in their rebuild.

 

Lang Greene is a senior NBA writer for Basketball Insiders and has covered the NBA for the last 10 seasons

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