David Griffin has to feel like one of the luckiest men in the world. He was named to the position of General Manager of the Cleveland Cavaliers in a permanent capacity on May 12. One week later, he cashed in 1.7% odds to win the NBA Draft Lottery. And then, on July 11, he won a different sort of lottery when LeBron James decided to play for his team.
Now all of his good fortune presents a legitimately difficult choice: Should the Cavs trade their number one overall pick, Andrew Wiggins, to the Minnesota Timberwolves for Kevin Love? When Griffin was hired, he would have been thrilled by the idea that he would end up facing such a choice. But now the future of the franchise no longer relies on good fortune, it must rely on Griffin making a sound decision.
The Wolves have been adamant about needing Wiggins in the deal if they are going to surrender Love.
It's understandable that Minnesota would want to get a prospect like Wiggins back in exchange for trading a player like Love, who is a true superstar. However, getting a top prospect for a player who can become a free agent next summer would be unprecedented.
In retrospect, this seems like a remarkably low price for the Rockets to pay. Especially considering that Harden made it known that he would sign an extension to stay in Houston.
August 2012: Orlando Magic trade Dwight Howard to Los Angeles Lakers. Magic receive Nikola Vucevic, Aaron Afflalo, Al Harrington, Christian Eyenga, Josh McRoberts, Moe Harkless, three first-round picks, one second-round pick.
Earlier in the summer, Orlando had hoped to get Brook Lopez from the Nets in exchange for Howard. Instead, they ended up with this fairly impressive Pu Pu platter. They got three first round picks and a couple of nice young players. This is a better package than what the Cavs could offer for Love, unless they can add a third team to the deal that will offer the Wolves some better prospects. The Howard trade actually included four teams: Orlando, Los Angeles, the Nuggets, and the 76ers.
December 2011: New Orleans traded Chris Paul to Los Angeles Clippers. New Orleans received Eric Gordon, Chris Kaman, Al-Farouq Aminu, three first-round picks.
This was the deal that went through after the NBA nixed a trade in which New Orleans would have received Goran Dragic, Kevin Marin, Luis Scola, Lamar Odom, and a first-round pick.
February 2011: Denver Nuggets trade Carmelo Anthony to New York Knicks. Nuggets receive Danilo Gallinari, Wilson Chandler, Raymond Felton, Timofey Mozgov, one first-round pick, two second-round picks.
This was a situation in which the Nuggets couldn't create much leverage, because Anthony was clear about wanting to play in New York. No other teams were willing to outbid the Knicks without an indication that Anthony would be willing to re-sign with them.
Love could put the Wolves in a similar position by insisting that he only wants to play with the Cavs. That would take away all of the leverage that Minnesota has. However, as long as Love is also open to playing for the Warriors (or even the Celtics), the Wolves can be patient. If Griffin is set on acquiring Love, it will only be a matter of time before he relents and gives up Wiggins to make it happen.
Giving up the number one overall pick would be unprecedented, but that doesn't necessarily mean that I don't think the Cavs should do it. The fact is, they probably don't have the assets to make the deal happen any other way. Minnesota apparently doesn't value Dion Waiters, Anthony Bennett, or Tristan Thompson all that highly. The Cavs have plenty of future draft picks to offer, but they don't have the contingent of young players to put together a package like what these other teams received.
So as things stand right now, my prediction remains that Love will end up in Cleveland, and Wiggins will end up in Minnesota. It makes the most sense for both teams.