James, Love, Irving make a formidable Cleveland Big 3

Lay days, lay days go away, come again another day when the waiting periods have expired and Chopes isn’t in contest mode and a six-star women’s event isn’t in its final rounds.

OK, I know that doesn’t rhyme. Shakespeare, I am not.

Both the Billabong Pro Tahiti and the Swatch Girls Pro France had lay days on Friday and Saturday with hopes for action to resume today. Sebastian Zietz will be taking on John John Florence in the third round at Teahupoo when the men’s World Championship Tour event resumes, while Tatiana Weston-Webb has her Round of 12 matchup against Laura Enever and Nikki Van Dijk with the top two moving into the quarterfinals.

And since I haven’t quite mastered the art of bending the space-time continuum (though I am working on it), I don’t know if the Kauai Red Raiders picked up their first win of the season in Saturday night’s tilt with Damien High School.

So today we’re widening the spectrum a bit. The long-anticipated trade sending Kevin Love to the Cleveland Cavaliers became official on Saturday. The Minnesota Timberwolves sent their franchise power forward to LeBron James’ new/old team in exchange for this year’s No. 1 overall draft pick, Andrew Wiggins, as well as last year’s No. 1 overall pick, Anthony Bennett. The T’Wolves also added forward Thaddeus Young from the Philadelphia 76ers, who got a first-round pick, along with Alexey Shved and Luc Richard Mbah a Moute from Minnesota.

Now with James, Love and Kyrie Irving in tow, the Cavs are the team to beat in the Eastern Conference. When James opted not to re-sign to the Miami Heat and instead returned home to Cleveland, he regained some goodwill and public relations points. This deal doesn’t negate all that, but it does change the way I view Cleveland, and not in a positive way.

As discussion of this trade surfaced almost immediately after the NBA Draft, I hoped against my better judgement that Cleveland wouldn’t make the deal. Part of the allure of watching James head back to the Cavs was to see how he and Wiggins could work together. Wiggins might be a great player. He might also be just an average NBA rotation player. We won’t know for some time, but his ceiling seemed to be sky high with James as a running mate.

So not only does this deal send him to a Minnesota team where no young player has excelled since Kevin Garnett, it removes the best player in the game from being able to help his transition to the pros. Wiggins could become great in Minnesota, but who’s going to be paying attention?

Had he been able to stay with Cleveland and try to help a young team with championship aspirations, all NBA fans would be able to “witness” his progression, just as we had with James more than 10 years ago.

But that rationale is a completely selfish one. I can’t really make a sound argument for why the Cavs should not have made this deal. Trading potential for a proven commodity is almost always correct. Trading potential for a proven superstar is never incorrect. Love has established himself to many as a top-10 player in the league. Adding that type of player is extremely rare, especially in Cleveland, where premiere players don’t flock unless they happened to grow up in Akron.

There aren’t many situations where teams regret adding an all-star – perhaps MVP – caliber player. On the flip side, there aren’t many situations where a team knows it has to trade its superstar and comes away with as great a package as Minnesota received. Usually a team gets about 60 cents on the dollar for a top talent. This time, the T’Wolves may have gotten a transcendent player, along with Bennett and future flexibility. These deals are rarely that lucrative, so kudos to them.

Cleveland will be the favorites in the East, especially with the horrific injury to Indiana’s Paul George, but the Cavs are anything but a sure thing. The only player in Cleveland who really knows what it takes to win it all is James. He certainly thinks the team has a better chance with Love than Wiggins, but it sure would have been fun to watch just how high he could carry the (once) young Cavs.


David Simon can be reached at dsimon@thegardenisland.com.


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