The Minnesota Timberwolves have traded their superstar, Kevin Love, to Cleveland, and that’s supposed to be a dark day for a franchise. But not this time.
This looks to be the kind of trade that makes both teams better. The Cavs have a third star to pair with LeBron and Kyrie Irving. The T-Wolves get three promising pieces, in solid power forward Thaddeus Young plus Andrew Wiggins and Anthony Bennett, the last two overall No. 1 picks.
Cleveland sacrifices potential long-term greatness for immediate gratification. The rookie Wiggins paired with LeBron could have been a fearsome duo for years to come. But Love almost surely will be more impactful in 2014-15, and when your city hasn’t won a sports championship in 50 years, that’s a sacrifice you can make.
Meanwhile, Minnesota wasn’t making any ground in the Western Conference with Love. And it didn’t have any great prospects for future success even if Love hadn’t threatened to bolt when his contract was up, which he had.
To escape that quagmire with a decent roster loaded with young talent signals a banner job by president/coach Flip Saunders and general manager Milt Newton (yep, the Kansas Milt Newton, starter on Danny Manning’s 1988 NCAA title team).
Wiggins, Bennett and Young join a team of point guard Ricky Rubio, big center Nikola Pekovic, sharpshooter Kevin Martin, veteran Mo Williams, defender supreme Corey Brewer, athletic rookie Zach Levine and promising shot blocker Gorgui Dieng. That’s not a roster that will contend for the Western Conference title, but that’s a better roster than the 40-win Timberwolves of last season.
Which means the West just keeps getting tougher. Ten Western Conference teams had at least 40 wins last year. Two more had at least 34 wins, and one of those was the Pelicans, who have added Omer Asik to team inside with Anthony Davis and will get better fast.
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