It's official. After what felt like ages, the Cleveland Cavaliers have finally been able to announce a trade with the Minnesota Timberwolves that will put Kevin Love on a team with LeBron James and Kyrie Irving.
Obviously, it's a pretty exciting time to be blogging about the Cavs. Writing about LeBron and Love is going to be a lot more fun than trying to write about Alonzo Gee and Tyler Zeller. I think that I speak for everyone here at Fear the Sword when I say that we recognize what a privilege it is to be able to write about a good team for a community like this.
And of course, Fear the Sword is not the only place on the internet where you can find great Cavs coverage. Here are some articles from everywhere else that caught my eye.
Brian Windhorst began chronicling the sudden change in the narrative surrounding the team's front office, from "incompetent" to "masters of strategic, long-term planning":
Saying it was just luck is a disservice to the Cavs' ability to close some big deals, but there was no chance of it happening without several huge swings of fortune. Essentially, five factors came together in a unique way that made it possible. Some of them were on the Cavs' dry-erase boards when they came to grips with their reality last spring. Some of them were unpredictable. But the sequence and timing ended up giving the Cavs one of the most dramatic and effective offseasons in league history.
So where does that leave Cleveland? Well, they're definitely the best team in the East on paper, though they're a clear step down from the Spurs and Thunder, and probably the Clippers. My guess is that they'll finish second in the East during the regular season - Tom Thibodeau lives for winning the regular season and he'll probably do so as long as Derrick Rose stays mostly healthy - but will be in good shape come the playoffs and make the Finals.
ESPN's Kevin Pelton gave the Cavs an 'A' for the trade (you'll need an ESPN Insider account for this one):
The Cavaliers' window to win is now, while James is the league's best player, and Love's versatility makes him one of the best possible offensive complements for the four-time MVP. Further, it's hardly like Cleveland is sacrificing its future by dealing for a 25-year-old player. Health aside, Love is a sure thing, which is something that can't be said of Wiggins. That's why I estimated earlier this offseason that Love's trade value -- the value of his performance minus his likely salary -- was far greater than the value of the typical No. 1 pick.
James Herbert of CBS Sports went even higher and gave the Cavs an 'A+':
Love is that good. He's really, really, ridiculously good. I'd say he's top-five, maybe even top-four in the league, and his value will be even more obvious on a team like the Cavs. No one rebounds and shoots 3s like him, no one throws outlet passes like him. Most important, almost no one as talented has his basketball IQ, which is what LeBron James mentioned as the main reason he'd be excited about this. David Blatt's offense is going to be a thing of beauty with Love in the fold.
ESPN's David Thorpe looked at how Love will fit (Insider is also required for this article):
There are many variables to consider, and the reality is that teams can and do adjust their styles as the season evolves, something Blatt proved to be a master of in Europe. In theory, though, unless the Cavs can suddenly add a lot more size to this roster (size that can play), there really is a pretty basic formula if they want to have a great chance at a ring: Run (fast), shoot (often), and pass, pass, pass.
Matt Moore defended Love from criticism about his lack of playoff experience:
How can we, as a society, push the idea of teamwork, and how basketball is about five guys on the floor and how they interact, and about how it takes all 12-15 guys to win, and still hold up Love as if he's supposed to be primarily responsible for the results? The impact of other players is why plus-minus data is so noisy on the surface. It's why chemistry is such a delicate and indecipherable concept. It's why teams are constantly having to tinker to find the right combination. It's what makes the Spurs so good.
He also looked at one of the main concerns the Cavs still have, which of course will be their defense:
The Cavaliers under Mike Brown last season finished 19th in the league in points allowed per possession, which was actually a substantial improvement year over year from the Byron Scott era (get excited, Lakers fans!) But they still struggled mightily. And on top of that, the biggest question about Kevin Love, beyond the inane playoff appearance questions, is his defense. And there's good reason to criticize.
Kurt Helin of NBC Sports touched on defense as well, and he also brought up the experience issue:
LeBron has led a team to four straight finals, Marion and Mike Miller both have rings, however neither Love nor Irving have ever even played in a playoff game. To ask these guys to go from their first playoff experience to being key cogs in a team going for a title. Plus guys like Tristan Thompson and Matthew Dellavedova are going to be asked to step up into bigger roles, then do that deep into the playoffs.
And finally, some of Love's new teammates took to Twitter to share their reactions:
Welcome to the Land @kevinlove!— LeBron James (@KingJames) August 23, 2014
Welcome to Cleveland Wes @kevinlove— Kyrie Irving (@KyrieIrving) August 23, 2014