That explosion has already begun.
Reports are trickling in that Cavs management is open to the possibility of trading the number one overall pick. To make that trade palatable though there would need to be significant return value.
With the question of sufficient return value, think: Love, Kevin.
Love's name is going to be bandied about a lot, and a number of teams will make a play for the frustrated power forward. Cleveland's package (with the number one overall pick) is now likely the most attractive, particularly if Minnesota becomes enamored with one of the top prospects.
But is that deal worth it?
I know Love is a great player. I know that he ranked third in PER this season (behind only LeBron James and Kevin Durant) but there are still red flags here.
First and foremost, his contract. For that deal to be worth it, considering the talent the Cavs would be giving up, Love would have to sign an extension. Anything short of three guaranteed years of an Irving-Love pair makes this untenable.
Second, his defense is lacking. Most people know that Love is not going to guard traditional centers but his quickness isn't great and he sometimes struggles to stay with more athletic power forwards. He's not going to offer great rim protection against slashing guards and he sometimes fouls carelessly.
Third, Love's teammates have not spoken fondly of him of late. Ricky Rubio all but said that Love was out for his, gave a crap about the team, and made winning secondary to his own stats. The Cavs have battled enough locker room turmoil in the past year to make Stanley Kubrick balk. Would Love be able to gel with Irving? One of the two would have to accept second-fiddle status (and that would most likely be Love).
Fourth, giving up that amount of talent leaves an already scarce pantry almost entirely bare. Behind Irving and Love, there would not be much talent. Adding the number one overall pick, and dealing Thompson/Varejao for a slight upgrade, would give the Cavs a very solid starting five and the potential for exponential growth. Which leaves us with the question: would we be leveraging our future for a shaky player?
Now. For the good.
Love's offense is fantastic and could fit this Cavs team wonderfully. He offers a unique inside-out game (hitting a tidy .376 from behind the arc) and rebounds at a fantastic clip (pulling down 12.6 boards per game this past season). He's decent on the blocks and could space the floor for Irving.
His rebounding is what first pushed Love into the national spotlight (he averaged more than 15 boards per game during the 2010-2011 season, per basketball-reference. The T-Wolves ranked 6th in team rebounding this season and the Cavs came in at 11th.
Love also became a pretty underrated passer this year. As teams swarmed the T-Wolves primary scoring option he excelled at finding open teammates, pushing his assist total per game to 4.4 (the highest it has ever been). That said, perhaps Love's most famous passing technique is this one:
A sobering thought though: without Waiters, the Cavs would lose one of their primary slash to the rim guards. Something to chew on.
Here's what's being said publicly. Milt Newton, the T-Wolves GM, and team owner Glen Taylor have both made very public statements saying they expect Love to be around for the 2014-2015 season and that there is no intention of trading the star forward.
That said, smokescreens are smokescreens and if they admit Love is going to be traded they lose any leverage they might have in negotiating with other teams. If you know Love is leaving anyways, why throw the whole farm at Minny? Wait a few months, sign him in free agency.
And we've already outlined Cleveland's stance. They're willing to deal. Does that mean Griffin would move the number one in conjunction with all of the aforementioned players (Waiters, Thompson, Varejao)....that's hard to say. Players of Love talent level, warts and all, are difficult to come by. In the East, Love could swing the balance of power---pushing the Cavs into Eastern Conference contender status. But theoretically, a solid number one pick, a key free agent signing, and continued growth from Irving and Waiters could do the exact same thing, on a slightly different time table.
Without Love signing an extension, there's no way I would pull the trigger on that deal though. If he signs the extension and expresses interest in joining another small-market club, albeit one with an established star player and battling in the weaker Eastern Conference, then it's a whole different conversation.
It's going to be an interesting off-season.