The summer of Love.
The Minnesota Timberwolves have reportedly come to terms with the Cleveland Cavaliers on a trade that will send Kevin Love out East for former No. 1 picks Andrew Wiggins and Anthony Bennett, as well as a future Cavs first-rounder.
The deal was reported by Yahoo! Sports’ Adrian Wojnarowski on Aug. 7, and while no deal can be completed until Aug. 23 because of Wiggins’ rookie contract, the agreement is final, and the two teams are switching franchise players.
How does this impact the Portland Trail Blazers, you ask? Subtly, but importantly.
For starters, let’s look at the immediate impact on the Timberwolves.
This is a group that has been inching closer and closer to making the postseason the past few years, and while the Blazers no longer consider fringe-playoff squads to be direct threats to their immediate success, removing Love from Minnesota helps a Portland team that will face its divisional foe four times in 2014-15.
Conversely, this deal could actually benefit Minnesota when looking at the team’s long-term outlook. If Wiggins ends up being as good as he projects to be, he’ll be much better than anyone the Wolves eventually would have gotten to replace Love after he bolted in 2015.
Minnesota got the best deal it could have possibly gotten, improving its chances of being a threat out West sooner than if Love had left in free agency.
How else does this deal impact the Trail Blazers? Look no further than the Bay Area.
Once upon a time, it was the Golden State Warriors who were in the lead to land Love’s services. That, however, appears to be an impossibility barring an unexpected curve ball.
If the Warriors has landed Love, it would have made them an instant contender in an already brutal Western Conference.
The trade likely would have sent both David Lee and Klay Thompson to Minnesota as a result, but what Love brings to the table would have made up for any loss in the process.
To summarize: Love heading East is a good thing for Portland right away. In fact, the only way it’s counter-productive for the Blazers’ hopes is if the team from Rip City makes the finals and lands a matchup against the new Big Three out East (Love, Kyrie Irving and LeBron James).
Although a trip to the Finals is Portland’s ultimate goal, it’s safe to say we’re a few steps away from seeing that happen.
In all likelihood, the Blazers and Cavs will face off twice next season, and while Cleveland will be the odds-on favorites in both contests, Portland can prove its worth on a national level by taking down the new powerhouse in its first season together.