Love will join LeBron
Published on -8/8/2014, 10:20 AM
By Broderick Turner
LeBron James got his man.
Minnesota and Cleveland on Thursday reached an agreement in principle on a deal that will send Timberwolves All-Star power forward Kevin Love to the Cavaliers to join James and All-Star point guard Kyrie Irving in what Cleveland fans hope will become the next Big Three.
The Cavaliers will send the Timberwolves No. 1 overall pick Andrew Wiggins, plus 2013 No.1 overall pick Anthony Bennett and a protected 2015 first-round draft pick, according to an NBA executive who was not authorized to speak publicly on the matter.
The deal can't become official until Aug. 23 because draft picks aren't allowed to be traded until 30 days after signing a contract. Wiggins, a forward out of Kansas, signed his rookie deal with Cleveland on July 24.
According to Yahoo Sports, Love plans to opt out of his 2015-16 contract that would pay him $16.744 million and will re-sign with the Cavaliers next summer for five years and $120 million after becoming a free agent.
Love, 25, a three-time All-Star, made it known to the Timberwolves that he would not re-sign with them and he wanted to play for a contender after never making the playoffs in his six seasons with Minnesota.
The former UCLA star averaged a career-high 26.1 points, 12.5 rebounds and 4.4 assists last season in Minnesota. He also shot 37.6% from three-point range, making him one of the top inside-outside threats in the NBA.
James was given credit for making the deal happen by NBA Hall of Famer Isiah Thomas. "Lebron James best executive in the NBA!!!" Thomas tweeted.
James returned to Cleveland last month as a free agent after spending the last four seasons with the Miami Heat.
He formed a Big Three with All-Stars Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh in Miami, helping the team reach the NBA Finals four consecutive years and win two championships.
James played his first seven seasons in Cleveland, and when he returned he carried a lot of influence, one Eastern Conference executive said.
"They are putting all these pieces around LeBron, saying, 'We're trying to win it now,' " the executive said. "And I'm sure that was part of LeBron's wish for when he went back there. LeBron has juice in Cleveland."
James, who signed a two-year deal with the Cavaliers that allows him to opt out next summer, is a four-time most valuable player and is widely considered the best basketball player in the world. And Love is considered one of the top power forwards in the NBA.
James and Love were teammates on the gold-medal-winning U.S. Olympic team in 2012.
Having James, Love and Irving to go along with new additions Mike Miller and James Jones, plus returning center Anderson Varejao, puts the Cavaliers in a position to reach the NBA Finals next season.
"Cleveland is legit. It's a good start for them," the Eastern Conference executive said. "I think it'll come down to Cleveland and Chicago in the East. It'll be a two-team race."