New Timberwolves Basketball

New Minnesota Timberwolves NBA basketball players, from left, Andrew Wiggins, Anthony Bennett, Thaddeus Young, Zach LaVine attend a news conference at the Minnesota State Fair on Tuesday, Aug. 26, 2014, in Falcon Heights, Minn.

LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers got their trade, and their man, in Kevin Love, prying him away from the Minnesota Timberwolves with the allure of a pair of flashy former No. 1 picks.

New Timberwolves Basketball

The Minnesota Timberwolves introduce the new players for the NBA basketball team–Andrew Wiggins, Anthony Bennett, Thaddeus Young and Zach LaVine, from left–during a news conference at the Minnesota State Fair on Tuesday, Aug. 26, 2014, in Falcon Heights, Minn.

But while Cleveland wound up with an NBA All-Star and Olympian, Minnesota acquired a potential franchise-changer in Andrew Wiggins and a great development piece in Anthony Bennett, as well as combo forward Thaddeus Young from the Philadelphia 76ers. It might take a few seasons to deliver a final grade, but early reviews are already in. Perry Green and Stephen Riley of the AFRO Sports Desk debate who will benefit the most from this monumental trade when it’s all said and done.

Riley: Love is the perfect complement to James. Love’s unique range and rebounding go a long way in helping James’ unique game, allowing the king to play everywhere on the court without having to worry about spacing. Love’s ability to go inside and out and still offer monster help on the boards gives James and Kyrie Irving a moveable chess piece, similar to how the Miami Heat used James for much of the last few seasons. Wiggins and Bennett’s athleticism would’ve been assets during the regular season, but teams need precision and half-court play during the playoffs and Love offers both. Wiggins and Bennett could emerge as superstars but their development would have been hindered with James and Irving dominating the ball.

Green: I may be alone when I say this, but I’m not backing off of it one bit when I tell you that I wouldn’t have traded A. Wiggins straight up for Kevin Love, let alone thrown Bennett into the deal, too. I’m a firm believer in young talent and how valuable it is. The fact that Cleveland could have waited a season and tried to secure Love through free agency while surrendering neither player just leaves a terrible taste in my mouth. To hand off two No. 1 picks in a trade for a guy with one year left on his contract screams desperate to me. If Wiggins and/or Bennett turn out to be great, then this is a trade Cleveland will regret. Bennett was already cut from the same Kevin Love cloth as a power forward capable of stretching the floor and banging down low. And Wiggins is penciled in as the next big thing. I’m a fan of depth and considering Love’s injury history, the Cavs just obliterated their front court depth.

Riley: Depth and elite-level players win titles. Cleveland can always find athletic wingmen and forwards with range, but Love is one of the top 10 players in the NBA right now. The Cavs have to win now. They don’t have time to sit and wait for talent to develop. They did that already during James’s first stint in Cleveland, and they can’t afford to do it again. James isn’t going to give Cleveland much time to figure out a roster around him, so they struck while the iron was hot. You can’t surround a player of James’ caliber with rookies and unproven players. Based on what Love has already done in this league, whatever Wiggins and Bennett will eventually be won’t matter when we’re looking at this trade years from now. James is already into a decade-long NBA career. There is no three to five-year waiting period for the team to wait on players to develop.

Green: I would have been curious to see how Cleveland would have fared with their pre-Love trade roster. I don’t see any team in the Eastern Conference that would’ve stopped them from making a Finals run and I think the team could have developed Bennett and Wiggins along the way to be exactly what the team needed. I acknowledge James’ window being a key concern, but talent wise, Cleveland would have been one of the best, and deepest, teams to grace the court in their conference next year. The Cavs made the move that they felt they needed to make. But that doesn’t mean it was necessarily the right move for the franchise. Young talent is always the base of any organization and should any of the Cavs’ new Big Three go down, the absence of any promising fresh bodies coming off the bench could cripple Cleveland.


Perry Green and Stephen D. Riley

AFRO Sports Desk