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Wiggins signs contract

Published on -7/25/2014, 10:04 AM

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By Jason Lloyd

McClatchy-Tribune

Andrew Wiggins has an NBA contract, but he might have to wait another month before he knows for which team he'll begin his career. Wiggins signed his deal with the Cavaliers on Thursday, but that in no way ensures he'll be in their lineup on opening night.

Wiggins is the centerpiece in a proposed deal for Minnesota Timberwolves star Kevin Love, creating a unique scenario rarely witnessed in the NBA. Under league rules, Wiggins now cannot be traded for 30 days.

Rights to the No. 1 overall pick have been traded on a few occasions -- Chris Webber getting dealt from the Orlando Magic to the Golden State Warriors on draft night in 1993 is the most recent example-- but never since the NBA/ABA merger has a No. 1 pick been signed by the team that drafted him, then traded before ever playing a single game.

The closest example is Steve Francis, who was drafted second overall by the Vancouver Grizzlies in 1999. Francis, though, wanted no part of Vancouver and forced his way to the Houston Rockets in a late August trade before ever signing his first contract.

The rule that restricts rookie trades dates to at least the 1999 collective-bargaining agreement. Rookies then were held to the same standard as free agents -- they couldn't be traded until Dec. 15. But the rule was loosened in the 2005 CBA to allow rookies to be traded just 30 days after signing.

The rule may seem frivolous, but its initial intent was to prevent teams from treating draft picks like free agents, one league executive with knowledge of past CBA negotiations said. Drafting, signing and immediately trading a player is essentially the same as a sign-and-trade, which is what teams were trying to avoid with the original rule.

While initially designed to give rookies at least a shred of stability in knowing where their careers would begin, one league executive not involved in these trade discussions argued it's actually hurting a player like Wiggins. After all, he could spend the next 30 days twisting in limbo, unsure of where he'll play this season.

The rule has never really been an issue until now, when it's affecting both the Cavaliers and Chicago Bulls, who are also pursuing Love. The Bulls are restricted, however, because rookie Doug McDermott signed his contract this week and also cannot be traded for a month.

Wiggins will earn $5.5 million next season wherever he plays. It's the standard amount for the No. 1 overall pick and the most he could receive under the rookie scale. Prior to signing, he added no monetary value to a Love trade and made it impossible for the Cavs to include him unless they gutted their roster to make the money match. Love will earn more than $15 million this season.

The Cavs delayed signing Wiggins this long to maximize use of their cap space, which they exhausted with this week's trade with the Utah Jazz and then the signing of second-round pick Joe Harris, which the team also announced Thursday. Harris signed a three-year deal, according to a league source, but only the first two years are guaranteed.

The trade with the Jazz to acquire Erik Murphy, John Lucas III and Malcolm Thomas pushed the Cavs slightly over the salary cap. Under league rules, that means the final player accepted in the deal cannot be aggregated in another trade for 60 days.

Put simply, Thomas cannot be combined with other players in a trade for at least two months. The trade with the Jazz was widely assumed to be a step toward a bigger deal for Love, because all three players are on nonguaranteed contracts and can be cut immediately to save cap space.

The fact Thomas cannot be used in a Love deal has little bearing on the Cavs, who have plenty of other avenues now to get a deal done without him.

Ray Allen update

The agency representing Ray Allen called a Boston Globe report that Allen was leaning toward playing this season with the Cavs "unfounded." The Globe reported that Allen, who has spent time recently in China with LeBron James, was leaning toward returning for a 19th season and was likely following James to Cleveland.

Jim Tanner is Allen's agent and president of Tandem Sports & Entertainment. Tandem wrote on its official Twitter account Thursday that Allen has not yet decided if he will continue playing or for which team.

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