After weeks of speculation, the Cleveland Cavaliers have reached an agreement with the Minnesota Timberwolves to acquire Kevin Love for Andrew Wiggins, Anthony Bennett and a 2015 first-round pick. The trade will not be made official until Aug. 23 – Wiggins cannot be traded within 30 days of signing a rookie contract – but this is more or less a done deal.
That means that the Cavs, in one offseason, have gone from virtual anonymity to landing two of the best and most efficient players in the NBA. The Cavs will likely enter the 2014-15 season as the favorites to win the title, but they have to get to the NBA Finals first.
Who’s their biggest competition in the Eastern Conference?
“It’s Chicago,” Yahoo! Sports NBA insider Adrian Wojnarowski said on The Morning Show. “Listen, if Derrick Rose can stay healthy and get back to being that player he was – an MVP-level player at 21 years old – (then the Bulls have a chance). He hasn’t been able to do that for two years, but that Bulls team – with Rose, with Joakim Noah, who was a first-team All-NBA player last year, (and with) the addition of Pau Gasol – (could be very formidable).”
If nothing else, the worst offense in basketball should be a whole lot better. Aside from Gasol, the Bulls added Nikola Mirotic, who last year was one of the top players in Europe, and drafted Doug McDermott, who last year was one of the top players (read: shooters) in college basketball.
“They need shooting around Derrick Rose, and they brought that in,” Wojnarowski said.
Still, Chicago, which had the best scoring defense in the league last season, will remain a shut-you-down team. Cleveland, meanwhile, plans on scoring points – a lot of them.
“Cleveland will be a very offensive-minded team,” Wojnarowski said. “They will score the ball; there’s no question when you bring Love in. But defensively, they’re going to have holes, their bench is going to have some holes, and they don’t have playoff experience. And the one thing we know about the Bulls, that is a playoff-hardened, very well-coached team that has been through the postseason grind. And two of your three best players in Cleveland – Kyrie Irving, Kevin Love – they haven’t played a playoff game yet in their career.”
The Bulls also have an NBA Coach of the Year winner in Tom Thibodeau, while the Cavaliers have David Blatt, who has never coached a day in the NBA.
Major advantage Chicago, right? Maybe, maybe not.
“No, I think they’ll be fine,” Wojnarowski said of the Cavs. “David Blatt is really, really good.”
But how do you know that?
“I’ve spent a lot of time around him,” Wojnarowski said. “I’ve spent a lot of time in Europe with him. I’ve watched his teams in Europe – undermanned teams in the Euroleague, undermanned teams internationally playing against Olympic teams. He is an elite coach. Listen, he’s going to be great. I really believe that. He’s great with players.”
According to Wojnarowski, Blatt has an incredible ability to maximize his players’ talents and get them to coalesce as a unit. That’s how he’s been able to remain competitive despite having lesser talent at his various coaching stops.
And now he’s going to have some of the best players in the world? Watch out.
“I think he’s going to be really, really good for Cleveland,” Wojnarowski said. “He’s going to help that group put this thing together.”