If there was any question about how the Cleveland Cavaliers feel about the selections available with the no. 1 pick in Thursdays NBA Draft, they seem to have answered those. Yesterday Andy Katz reported that the Cavaliers made an offer to ship that pick to the Minnesota Timberwolves in an attempt to bring in All-Star power forward Kevin Love.
Cleveland was reported to be looking to package the young combination of Tristan Thompson and Dion Waiters to go along with the top pick in order to secure Love's services. New Timberwolves president Flip Saunders turned down the deal, as he is keen on keeping Love in Minnesota.
The 6'10" forward is in his fifth year in the league, all of which have been with the Timberwolves. He was drafted by the Memphis Grizzlies but traded to Minnesota after the conclusion of the draft. In turning down this trade and making the statement that he will not be trading Love, Saunders is hoping to keep the big man past the 2015 season when he can opt out of his contract and become a free agent. It is likely that he will need to put assets around Love by that time or have to suffer the same fate as the Cavaliers did with LeBron James.
While Cleveland would be giving up two of their bright young stars, along with the draft pick, in order to acquire the 24-year-old, it would be well worth it. Love is a double-double machine averaging 17.3 points and 12.2 rebounds per game in his career. Last year, his numbers were above that with 18.3 points and 14 rebounds per game.
He would create matchup issues in the pick-and-roll with Kyrie Irving, as a 45% shooter and 35% from three-point range, he can roll to the basket or knock down the open jumper. While Thompson has improved in each of his two years in the league, no one expects him to reach Love's level. Adding Waiters to the mix was an attempt to sweeten the deal for the Timberwolves, as he is a young guard with potential, but they likely do not value him as much as Cleveland does.
There has been a lot of speculation about what the Cavaliers will do with the number-one pick, as there is no clear answer at the top of the draft. It was once thought that Kentucky's Nerlens Noel would be the number-one pick, but the ACL tear he suffered during his one year in college in combination with his smaller stature – listed at approximately 6'10", 210 pounds – have put doubts in many evaluators.
The only thing that is certain about this pick is that Cleveland is not sure what they want to do with it. They would have loved to get Love in this deal, but it seems that will not happen. It is possible that they could come back with another offer that appeals more to Saunders and Minnesota, but that seems unlikely considering their stance regarding Love.
A trade of some sort is still possible, but it is likely the Cavaliers will use the pick and select a player coming out of college. While this may not be the best draft in recent years, there is talent and Cleveland can get something to continue the development of their young team. It is apparent though that those evaluating for the Cavaliers believe that they could get something better if they are able to make a trade.
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