Kevin Love to the Cavaliers may finally be happening.
ESPN's Brian Windhorst spoke Monday with ESPN New York Radio and reported that the Minnesota Timberwolves and Cleveland Cavaliers have come to a "handshake agreement" on a deal that would send Love to team up with LeBron James and Kyrie Irving. The reason the two sides can not make the agreement, which Windhorst described as "done but not done," official is due to the 30-day moratorium period after Andrew Wiggins signed with Cleveland. The Kansas rookie is eligible to be traded August 23, perhaps not-so-coincidentally the same date Timberwolves owner Glen Taylor said he expects a deal for Love to get done.
The Love-to-Cleveland speculation has been persistent ever since James signed with the Cavaliers last month. With a bevy of young assets at their disposal and a sudden win-now approach, the Cleveland brass has worked toward appeasing James' reported desire to play with Love and getting a deal done. Windhorst states that the Timberwolves could still be swayed by another team's offer and go in a different direction, but a report last week indicated that all other teams have waived the white flag, seemingly realizing the Timberwolves power forward is destined for Cleveland (and that said teams can't match the Cavaliers' potential trade package).
In the interview Windhorst also notes that the Philadelphia 76ers could enter the mix as a third team, sending veteran forward Thaddeus Young to the Timberwolves in exchange for Cleveland's Anthony Bennett, the No. 1 overall pick in 2013.
While players, draft picks and cash considerations all could be part of the final deal, the obvious implication is that the Cavaliers would become the unquestioned favorites in the Eastern Conference. Though they won just 33 games a season ago, adding the world's best player in James and a 25-year-old All-Star with career averages of 19.2 points and 12.2 rebounds in Love to go with Kyrie Irving is a three-headed monster near the level of Miami's Big Three the past four seasons, if not just as good.
The Cavaliers would lose depth in the deal, sending away the past two No. 1 overall picks, but with a supporting cast of Dion Waiters, Tristan Thompson, Anderson Varejao and potentially free agents Ray Allen and Shawn Marion, Cleveland would have a slight edge over their toughest test in the East, the Bulls -- it's tough to see the Pacers contending after losing Lance Stephenson to free agency and following Paul George's gruesome leg injury in last weekend's Team USA showcase, while Washington and Charlotte are still a year or two and a player away from contending.
The Timberwolves would get both a young, potential superstar in Wiggins (he won't turn 20 until February) and an underrated versatile forward in Young, who quietly averaged 17.9 points, 6.0 rebounds and 2.1 steals on last year's historically bad 76ers team. Trading away a talent of Love's caliber certainly sets the team back, but if Wiggins returns value in his first season and Young, who would fill the void left by Love, meshes with Ricky Rubio and athletic rookie Zach LaVine, the Timberwolves could surprise.
As for Philadelphia, it's yet another tanking move by a franchise that seems intent on getting as bad as it can before building back up. Bennett struggled mightily in his rookie season but has shed weight and averaged 13.3 points and 7.8 rebounds at the Las Vegas Summer League last month; he's a low-risk, high-reward addition (he's still just 20 years old) that would add to a young core that includes Joel Embiid, Nerlens Noel and Michael Carter-Williams, all of whom are 22 or younger. They'd also almost certainly add another top-3 pick in next year's draft after what appears to be another season in the East cellar.
See you again on Aug. 23.