At last, the long-rumored trade between the Cleveland Cavaliers and the Minnesota Timberwolves is complete, and as usual, Yahoo! Sports' Adrian Wojnarowski (whose name I can totally spell without double-checking by now because I'm a PROFESSIONAL BASKET-BLOGGER WITH IMPORTANT OPINIONS) is the one who broke it. There were a couple of last-minute added wrinkles with Brett Brown's Philadelphia 76ers getting involved that made the deal a bit more interesting.
The Cavs get Kevin Love, the Wolves get Andrew Wiggins and Anthony Bennett (the overall No. 1 picks of the past two drafts) plus Thaddeus Young from Philly, and the Sixers "get" Alexey Shved, Luc Mbah a Moute, Miami's first-round pick, which figures to be around the 18-24 range, and the most ping-pong balls for the 2015 draft.
I've already written at length, as is my wont, about what Love means to the Cavs here and here. A different, wronger, view of it can be found here. Also, Brian Windhorst of ESPN.com wrote a cool story with some juicy, succulent nuggets detailing the inner workings of how the Cavs landed both LeBron James and Love.
For the time being, I'm more interested in the Sixers component of the trades, because it really doesn't make a whole lot of sense.
Let me state, again, for the record that I loved what the Sixers did in the draft. I'd have picked Joel Embiid first overall even with his ominous injury history, and trading for Dario Saric and getting picks in the future (well, yes and no) was a coup as well. Sure, Embiid won't be available until 2015 and Saric until 2016, but the Sixers have a long-term plan here.
I don't really understand the point of the deal from the Sixers perspective. I get that Young will be 28 by the time Saric comes over, but he'd be a free agent by then anyway, so essentially he was shipped out for a low first-round pick, which seems below value for your only quality starter. And it's not like Philly "did right by him" by removing him from a bad situation because he's just going from one crummy team to another.
I suppose shipping Young out ensures that GM Sam Hinkie's vision is to play Nerlens Noel and Embiid together in a "twin towers" lineup a year from now (and presumably beyond) but both of those guys seem pretty similar to me. Embiid is the one who's more offensively skilled and fluid, so I'm thinking it would be a good idea for him to spend most of his rehab practicing jumpers from the elbow and the high-post. Saric would either be a big three or a stretch four, so it's entirely possible that in a couple of years the Sixers will have the same kind of big-man dilemmas that teams like Detroit and New Orleans have dealt with, and heck even the Spurs to some degree. Though there is no such thing as too many good bigs, the Pistons showed us the folly of trying to play a power forward at the three just for the sake of giving all three guys quality minutes. For their sake, I hope Saric turns into a better shooter than Josh Smith.
Mbah a Moute was acquired presumably to be a good mentor and locker-room presence for Noel and Embiid, while Shved was just a straight salary dump. Even with his $4M salary though (that's right, we live in a world where Alexey Shved makes $4 million a year), the Sixers cap figure is an embarrassing $28.7 million and change. Kobe Bryant's cap figure next year is $23.5 million. The highest-paid guy on the Sixers roster is Jason Richardson, at $6.6 million, and I'm not even positive he's still alive. The league has a "salary floor" rule where every team must spend up to 90% of the cap and if they don't, they have to make up the difference to the guys on the roster. The cap is going to be $63 million this year, so it's going to be awesome if you're some random who winds up playing for the Sixers at any point next season. You're literally gonna have D-League caliber guys making $3 million just because of league bylaws.
I know the Sixers are taking the long view here and have their sights on another top-three pick next season, but this is just pathetic and a real disservice to their fans. They already made the Embiid and Saric picks. Those guys are in the fold and aren't going anywhere. The team had plenty of cap space to acquire some good players to be competitive this season. By going the ultra-cheap route what they're doing is assuming that Embiid, Saric, Noel and Michael Carter-Williams will all develop into superstars a la Oklahoma City's guys and want to have the room to give them all boffo contracts if need be. Sounds like a stretch, right? People get as lucky as Thunder GM Sam Presti got once every 25 years or so. The odds are those four guys will turn into one star, two good players and one JAG. In the meantime, you're the laughingstock of the league, you're taking years off poor Brown's life and your fans hate you. Way to go, Sixers!
The T-Pups, meanwhile, have acquired two power forwards and a small forward for Love. How are Bennett and Young supposed to play together? (Spoiler alert: They can't.) Are they trying to turn Bennett into a three and Wiggins into a two? The former has issues keeping his weight down and isn't much of a shooter, to be kind. The latter has an iffy dribble for a three, let alone a two, and also needs to work on his jumper.
Getting rid of Shved and Mbah a Moute's salaries is a win for Minny, don't get me wrong, and I guess getting a quality player like Young is better than nothing. One can look at him as insurance in case Bennett never improves. The Wolves supposedly got a $6.3 million trade exception as part of the deal too. I wouldn't expect Young or Bennett to be with Minnesota for too long. One or the other will win that job and the loser will be dealt for peanuts. Or Young will just leave as a free agent or be traded once he makes clear his intentions to leave and Bennett will win the job by default.
In conclusion, I still think the Cavs will come to regret dealing away Wiggins for Love and that no team will really "win" this trade, in terms of getting what they wanted out of it.
Well, then again you can say the Sixers will win it because all they want is to be unspeakably terrible.