The deal can’t be official until Aug. 23, or one month after the Cleveland Cavaliers signed No. 1 draft pick Andrew Wiggins as a matter of procedure. Yet, Yahoo! Sports has reported on Thursday that the Cleveland Cavaliers will indeed trade Wiggins and other pieces to the Minnesota Timberwolves for Kevin Love, dramatically rearranging the NBA and especially the Eastern Conference.
What This Means For The Cavaliers
By any reasonable measurement, this event makes Cleveland the clear favorite in the Eastern Conference for the coming season. This is not speculation or wishful thinking or mere hope. It is definite that the Cavs are now the team to beat in the East. The only event that could make the issue a little more cloudy is if Derrick Rose plays at full strength for an entire regular season and playoff run. If that’s the case, the Chicago Bulls could legitimately contend with Cleveland for the Eastern Conference title. A Cleveland-Chicago matchup, with Paul George of the Indiana Pacers going down, is now the definite top choice in terms of a matchup in the Eastern Conference Finals next May. Brooklyn, Miami, Toronto, Washington, and Atlanta would be the next group of contenders. It’s hard to determine the order of those teams, but Cleveland is first and Chicago is second. That group of five is next.
What This Means For The Timberwolves
In the big picture, this is not a bad thing for the T-Wolves, since Love wanted out and was not going to stay beyond this season. Minnesota needed to get a lot of value in exchange for Love, and it certainly got that, with Wiggins being a player who could become a superstar over the long run and has a very high ceiling as a prospect. It’s true that the other parts of the trade, 2013 No. 1 pick Anthony Bennett and a 2015 first-round pick, might not pan out, but Minnesota can certainly develop those players. Maybe Bennett was under too much pressure and was too young last season. If he grows into his role in Minnesota, the T-Wolves will have Wiggins and Bennett, two number one picks, on the floor, creating a very effective combination. Minnesota has collected a number of assets here, in exchange for a player it already knew was going to leave. That’s pretty good.
What This Means For The Rest Of The NBA
In the Eastern Conference, this is terrible news. Kevin Love had been the Western Conference’s problem, but now that Love is with LeBron James, Cleveland is going to be very hard to defend against. East teams will have to find ways to score against the Cavaliers. They will also need to focus on stopping point guard Kyrie Irving. If Irving can’t pass or score as well as he normally does, LeBron will have to handle the ball more and tire himself out. Teams that can stop Irving can slow down Cleveland’s offense a little bit, but probably not completely.
In terms of the Western Conference, the San Antonio Spurs and Oklahoma City Thunder should beat Cleveland in the NBA Finals if those matchups happen. If someone other than the Spurs or Thunder makes the Finals, Cleveland will have a chance to win.
How To Bet The News
This makes Cleveland the favorite to win the NBA Championship at 5/2. If you had a hunch that this was going to happen before the Cavs got James, then you could have got them at 40/1.
In any case, the Cavs are easily the favorite to win the title simply because of their path. While the West is clogged with teams like the San Antonio Spurs, Los Angeles Clippers, Oklahoma City Thunder, Portland Trail Blazers, Houston Rockets and many more, the Cavs should have a cakewalk in the East. With the Indiana Pacers down and the Miami Heat dismantled, the Cavs only have to compete with the Chicago Bulls.
The Heat went to four consecutive finals without a point guard, a deteriorating Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh, who would disappear during playoff runs. With James, Love, Irving and a much better supporting case, this team is going to be hard to beat, making them a tempting NBA betting pick this season.